Becoming an Anthropologist

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So, you have decided that you would like to become an anthropologist. There are many different facets of anthropology and before you decide on a specific field, you must get the basics of the educational requirements completed. At most universities anthropology and archeology are studied simultaneously. They are often referred to as "anth" and "arch" and the courses are non-exclusive. You will probably become an archeologist with a specialty in anthropology.

For the purposes of this article we will narrow the fields down to cultural anthropologists and physical anthropologists. Cultural anthropology is the study of the social customs of human beings throughout history. Physical anthropology specializes in the study of skeletal remains, both of humans and of primates, some of which are millions of years old.

By the time you are ready to venture either into cultural anthropology or physical anthropology, you should already have your Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree. You will have studied history, biology, languages, arts and many other varied subjects which should, indeed, help you decide upon which aspect of anthropology is right for you.

Getting started in your studies involves selecting and applying to Graduate School, purchasing books pursuant to anthropology, accessing the Internet to study articles on the subject, and deciding upon a career choice once you have the necessary education.

You will first want to attain a PhD degree as this is an absolute necessity to do any sort of work in the anthropology field. Learning to do research is a vital part of this process, and you will have many opportunities to demonstrate research skills as you work towards this goal.

Another vital part of your studies will be to have someone either already working as an anthropologist or a Professor from your Graduate School agree to be your Mentor. Your Mentor will guide you, teach you, and critique your research presentations and papers. It is very important that you work to the best of your ability in order for your Mentor to help you to achieve the level of work needed in order to obtain research funds.

Applying for and getting research funds are extremely difficult these days. Applications may be very complicated and you must learn and demonstrate excellent grant writing abilities. Research funds come from a number of sources and there is always a vast amount of competition. Your grant applications must stand out from others as unique, and compelling as to why you deserve the funding. Second best need not apply is the general rule, but you will learn by trial and error. Your Mentor can help to prevent mistakes and failures by prompting you to live up to standards that are above and beyond the norm.

Writing of articles for magazines and journals will be integral to your success. You need to get name recognition to go along with your Graduate School education so that when people read your grant writings they will be familiar with your world views, your scientific outlook and your previous work.

As you progress in your studies, you will want to ask to be included in field work. Your Mentor may help with this also, but you may find opportunities in professional journals as well. Volunteer work could be your initial foot in the door to excavations and field work. Working at a Historical Society, or at a Museum are both options.

Although much of your work during your early years will be local, and seasonal, once you meet the criteria to be a professional in the field, and have earned the respect of your colleagues and peers, you may be on your way to overseas adventures with the sky as your limit.

More about this author: Laura Hinds

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