Physical Anthropology

How to get Started in an Anthropology Career

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"How to get Started in an Anthropology Career"
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Anthropology covers a vast field of interest in both hobbies and careers. There is no area of the world where the anthropologist can't find work to do and a large number of businesses large and small can and do call upon anthropology to better fulfill their objectives. For those specialising in research, there are a plethora of government grants both within the U.S. and around the world for sponsored projects.

If you have a particular area of interest you would like to pursue, the best way to fund it is to write a grant proposal to a foundation like the American Anthropological Association which funds a broad range of projects. If a directed, steady career is more your speed, you might begin by interning at a museum or institute. Long established institutions usually have endowments or are federally funded, making a job with them more secure in the long term than grant funded research. Large institutes, like the Smithsonian not only fund new projects, but have a wealth of archaeological artifacts in warehouses still needing to be studied and analyzed. This means that if your passion is the actual archaeological dig, cataloguing and analyzing artifacts and context, or publishing finished studies, you can be pretty sure a large museum, historical site or institution will have work to interest you for years to come.

However, archaeology is not the limit of anthropological careers by any means. With the major surge in international business, contemporary anthropology is more necessary than ever. Giving business cultural context is priceless to its longterm survival. Massive corporations like Coca Cola or Macdonald's are known around the world because they have successfully integrated themselves in every culture in which they open their doors. If you spent time living in a society foreign to a corporation's home base, you could be hired as a consultant or community liaison when that company moves in. Your anthropological expertise gives you a leg up on a competitor who only studied generic marketing strategies. This is not only true across international borders, but can be just as crucial when moving into a unique subculture within a corporation's home country. A corporation that knows the needs, ethics and customs of any society it moves into will be much more profitable than one that does not take the time to understand its community and customers. As an anthropologist, you have a background and research process that is perfect for discovering that information.

Anthropology is also making inroads in technological societies as well. As entertainment becomes a more immersive experience, developers and writers need more and more to understand how human interaction works. Whether developing online communities, writing convincing scripts for movies or video games, or providing socially focused services such as dating services or support groups, modern providers have never had as much need for anthropological research and consultants. With the development of virtual societies there is also a whole new set of interaction norms and expectations, customs and taboos. Whether researching this new virtual world or making entertainment more realistic, anthropology is anything but outdated in the modern era.

Of course, there is still a great need for classical applications of anthropology. Linguists, especially are in demand, both in government agencies such as the State Department, CIA, or military branches and at international institutions such as the United Nations, Grameen Bank, or international courts. Anthropologists are in high demand in embassies both here in the U.S. and in their home countries. These careers are most easily accessed if you have interned or have been through a government volunteer program like Vista or Peace Corps. For those to whom passion is more important than wage, international non-profit organizations like Unicef or Doctors Without Borders are always desperate for assistance and love to have a range of folks from all walks of life, especially those with the theoretical background to provide assistance while remaining neutral, such as anthropologists.

Whatever your anthropological focus may be, there is a fulfilling and probably lucrative career out there for you. As the study of man, anthropology prepares you for a wide range of occupations, anything that requires human interaction! With modern travel and the search for new markets in all business, anthropology can only become more and more useful as time goes on. While any specific job may not be "recession proof" an anthropological background ensures that more jobs will always be available to you than to someone with a more narrow field of interest and expertise.

More about this author: Deirdre Gould

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