How much do anthropologists make?

Aside from, “What college/university has the best anthropology program?” I get asked, “How much do anthropologists make?” I will never be able honestly and thoroughly answer either question, but thanks to John Hawks, I think we’ve all have a better idea what the national average salary is for an anthropologist in the United States.

According to data collected from three major sites that specialize in job finding and salaries, the average salary of someone employed in anthropology is $66,861. You can expect a growth rate of 4.9% in the salary a year, based on the data. Unfortunately they only classify ‘anthropologists’ as people who,

“study the origin, cultural development and behavior of humans, [and] recover artifacts to gather information about humans.”

I really don’t know how much of a salary difference there is for anthropologists who work in other fields such as population genetics, medical anthropology, etc. Nevertheless, I think you can now understand that for the most part anthropologists aren’t making the mega bucks…. well at least not in the Bay Area.

25 thoughts on “How much do anthropologists make?

  1. hi. im fifteen. and i would love to be a anthropologist. i want to travel, and study human beings and there culture. i love history. i love learning something new in and ancient from the past. I wanted to know what i would have to do in college. how many years i will be in there? Thank you for reading!

    By Kayley Marks

    1. Kayley,

      I’m a first year anthropology student; as far as what classes you might take in college pertaining to an anthropology major, they are in the Social Sciences field. A freshman would take any combination of the following classes: introduction to cultural anthropology, cultural geography, sociology, geology (science with lab), world history (i was more interested in American history, but my guidance counselor said world would be better for anthropology), and of course English composition and college level math (statistics or pre calc, but I recommend taking that in high school if you’re up to it). As far as how long – that’s up to you. I think you can get an applied 2 year certificate, but I don’t know why one would. 4 year Bachelors degree is minimally sufficient followed by another two years for a Masters. If you’re more of an academic person you can continue education through a PhD program and ultimately become a professor yourself. Of course, all of this depends on what you want to do. There are individuals that receive bachelors of anthropology degrees and go on to become police detectives or economic aides to politicians. Others continue beyond 4 years and become archeologists or biological anthropologists (like the folks who do research on Ardi and Lucy). There are four subdivisions of anthropology: physical, cultural, archeological, and linguistic – and professionals usually specialize in a specific geographical are as well ( i.e. linguistic anthropology of Latin America, not just Spanish). From your question, it sounds like you would be more interested in cultural anthropology (as am I), so if you received a bachelors it generally wouldn’t qualify you as a “professional” in anthropology, however you could teach up to secondary school, be a research assistant, administrative aide, or a management and sales trainee. Masters degree (6 years typically) would open up more professional anthropological doors where you might publish an article here and there and have some impact on the field, but if you are interested in leading anthropology projects and writing books and publishing many articles on your research whilst making discoveries and expanding the field, then a PhD would be required. I think around half of the people who obtain a bachelors in anthropology go on to get a higher degree (I know I plan on it!), so if you really have a passion for it (which at 15 is wonderful) then you should definitely pursue it. Heaven knows, I might be a professor one day and you could be in my class… lol. Anyway, I hope this has been helpful and I wish you good luck with anything you pursue!

      1. hello,(:
        I want to be a cultural anthropologist when i get older but i’m most concerned with jobs. Most articles say that they work at museums and i would love to do that but do you have any idea what you would do while working there? and how long it will take me to get my masters in anthropology? thank you so much(:

  2. Hey, I’m graduating with my associates in anthropology and love it. Getting ready to go for my BA at OU and was wondering how much I could make with my BA. And then how much I’ll make after grad. with my Ph.D? Thanks.

      1. That’s funny Kambiz, but close to the point. Brandon, I am an Anthro major as well, and I am seriously considering changing my major after seeing for myself the avg. pay for the area I live in. It really depends on what sub-catagory you choose, and where you work. In my area, they say some of the the anthropologists (6yrs) here have to get part time jobs just to make ends meet. I would guess for your Phd, the Income would broadly vary depending on the school you teach at. Of course, I live in a not-so-well developed area (Southern Illinois), so don’t just take my word for it, lets get an answer to this post from someone in the city.

        1. One of the reasons why I’ve stopped studying anthropology is the pay and prospective jobs. I know lots of people with PhD’s who cannot find jobs at universities and colleges. Although I love anthropology, I am very happy with studying medicine!

  3. Im an eithgrade student studing this career. what are the benifits (likee health care or insurance) for a job in anthropology?

  4. h im thirteen and i want to be an anthropologst but i live in tasmania if you dont know where that is its in australia so i have no hope of getting a job. but how long will i have to go to scool for? what subjects do i need to specilise in? do i need to go to university in america? how nuch will i get paid if i do get a job? and is anthropoligy a good science to go into? is anthropology a hands on science? thankyou for listening to a thirteen year olds questions.

  5. As it has been noted, Anthropology as a whole isn’t a career in which one makes the major mualla. However, as Anthropology covers the wide spectrum of humanity, is it safe to assume that the salary will vary according to the area in which you choose to specialize in ? Right now at fifteen, I’m not overtly concerned about how much I’ll be making, I know what I’m interested in and where I’m thinking about directing my life. However, obviously in a few years this will be a concern as will actually finding a job, right? Where do most Cultural and Forensic Anthropologists find work? Or if I were to decide to go into archeology where then, and how often could I expect a job? (After all, it’s not as though mummies pop-up every where, all the time.)

  6. “Right now at fifteen, I’m not overtly concerned about how much I’ll be making, I know what I’m interested in and where I’m thinking about directing my life”.

    In my experience it’s important to concentrate on what you’re really interested in, and the job will find you. Eventually.

  7. I’m doing a research project on anthropology and I was wondering if you could give me some info on what types of degrees, certificates, diplomas or training (besides schooling) would I have to have to do something in this field.

    Thank you,
    Lilly Boles

  8. I’m so glad I found this site. Like many of the younger people on here, I knew at a young age I wanted to be an anthropologist. I am currently finishing my undergraduate work and my area of concentration is Cultural Anthropology. I plan completing my masters in Cultural Anthropology at University of Louisville. In addition to that, since I know this field is not a “hot” area, I will be pursuing another Master’s Degree in Adult Education emphasis Communication or just Communications. I figure having two irons in the oven will keep me employed and able to work in various fields. One areas I’ve noticed that cultural anthropologists are making a difference in is teacbing cultural compentencies at non-profit and for profit companies.

  9. Whenever I look up “what do anthropologists do?” I always get a “write articles… interviews… statistics… etc.”. But I want to know what they do in more detail. Do they only write articles? How many have to move to do their job? I want to be a cultural anthropolgist. But how can know what anthropology is all about when no one gives me detail??? Please define anthropology beyond, “the study of humans… ” !

    1. Mary,

      There’s so much information out there on what anthropologists exactly do that I find it confounding, even shameful, that you’re asking someone to tell you. We don’t owe you anything. It is your responsibility to seek out what interests you.

      But to answer your question since you seem to be too lazy to do for yourself, anthropologists do a lot of stuff, and often specialize in one of four subfields, focusing on either language, culture, prehistoric peoples, or how humans have evolved. They study many different things and use different tools to carry out their studies.

      Most people do write articles, and contribute their findings and research back to the field and general public. Some applied anthropologists work for corporations and help them make their products better or understand their clientèle. I think you need to understand that most anthropologists are foremost academics. They don’t necessarily make a product like dish soap or toy guns, so reporting on their observations is their primary output.

      What do you mean by do they have to move to their job? Uhh, Yes. Everyone that I know who has an anthropology degree and works as one has to move at some point in their life. What kind of question is that?


  10. Hello,
    My name is Jessica, and I am a junior in highschool interested in becoming a linguistic anthropologist. The Univerisity that I would like to attend does not offer a B.S. in Anthropology but they offer one in Biology. I am wondering, would having such a degree work if I plan to go to grad. school and eventually specialize?

  11. Hi, I am currently 15 years old. It may be a bit too early in finding out what career I want. I’ve always been interested about Anthropology. I would love to travel and learn about certain places. Although my parents have a different view. They rather have me pursue in being a optometrist. I want have a job that I would actually enjoy waking up to then to hate it for the rest of my life.Would anthropology be right for me?

  12. m glad 2 bump in here.. m a botany graduate wanting 2 pursue my masters in anthropology…
    can u ppl. plz guide me wat al jobs i cn go for after my M.Sc. n this field??

  13. Hi, I’m in the eighths grade and I am studying Anthropology, and I was wondering, how much money do Anthropologists make a year?

  14. I’m seriously considering a career change, and am exploring anthropology, but I want to get a sense of what the job satisfaction is like for those in academia in this field. My first career is not intellectually or emotionally satisfying to me, and most of the other people in my field seem to agree. Before embarking down the road to a new career, I want to make sure that the people who practice in the area I choose do, generally speaking, like what they’re doing. So, anthropologists, are you happy in your careers?

  15. Ok, who is this Kambiz Kamrani character??? Dude, if you’re annoyed by the questions on this site, then DON’T READ OR ANSWER THE QUESTIONS! No one cares about your smart a** comments. Knock the chip off of your shoulder and get a life!

  16. Today in class we are searching for a job that we want to have. I am an 8th grade AVID student and wanted to know, How much does an Anthropologist make a month?, A week?, And per day?

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