Career Planning for Anthropology Students
Dr. Cameron Smith in the field
According to a 1994 survey, nearly half of all professional anthropologists work outside of academia in a variety of public and private sector fields from business to medicine to development. The one piece of advice that practicing anthropologists give the most is to think in terms of skills rather than academic degree when planning for a career in anthropology. That means carefully planning a program of course work that matches your career interests and ambitions, as well as taking advantage of internship opportunities to build your experiences and skills outside of the classroom. Find out more about the value of an Anthropology degree.
The following is a list of resources designed to help students get started with the process of choosing and planning for a career with an anthropology degree.
Advice to Anthropology Majors
- Be Immodest. There are no jobs out there labeled 'anthropology,' but many entry level positions do not specify a college major and are thus open. Your training prepares you as well as any.
- Be Bold. You must tell prospective employers what anthropology can do for them. They don't know and won't ask.
- Be Prepared. Know what you have to offer and how it interpenetrates with the job skills required. Students who have developed a proficiency in a specific skill, such as statistics or a second language, will have an added advantage on the job market.
- Be Eclectic. Your marketability will be immeasurably enhanced if you combine vocationally-oriented course work (criminal justice, urban planning, business, environmental studies, etc.) with your anthropology major.
- Be Experienced. Most decent jobs relevant to anthropology BAs (especially in government) require experience. New BAs can beat this catch-22 by paying your dues while still in school. Search out volunteer and internship opportunities to integrate with your undergraduate coursework. [Adapted from: Robert Wulff, Career Models in Anthropology (1977)]
- PSU anthropology internships page.
- Links to Graduate School Programs
- Visit the PSU Career Center.
- See the PSU Career Center's "What can I do with a degree in Anthropology?"
- Visit the Northern Kentucky University anthropology website, which includes lists of federal and international jobs for anthropology majors.
- For information on working for a non-governmental organization (NGO), see the InterAction website, which includes information on job/volunteer opportunities. The organization is a coalition of over 160 non-profit groups.
- Join a professional organization, such as NAPA, NASA, SfAA and AAA, SAA.
- Read Practicing Anthropology and the SfAA Newsletter. These are the most career oriented publications in applied anthropology. The emphasis is on networking, resources and advice, rather than scholarship. It is also a great way to find out how others are using anthropology degrees in a variety of fields. Both are available by joining the Society for Applied Anthropology (see below). The special issue of Practicing Anthropology on "Mastering Anthropology: Anthropologists Practicing with a Master's Degree" (Vol. 19 No.2, Spring 1997) is particularly useful.
- Look for NAPA Bulletins on subjects of interest to you, such as business, public sector work, legal anthropology, bioanthropology, etc.
- Take advantage of the NAPA Mentor Program. Anyone who is an MA student finishing their degree can request a match with a professional anthropologist.
- See the NAPA Career Development page.
- Visit the Society for American Archaeology's jobs page. Also see the AAA's careers page.
- To create and post a resume, and search job listings in anthropology, visit http://www.anthrotech.com/career/.
- See the Anthropology Department's resume writing tips.