Anthropology and my Career

Anthropology and My Career: Doors opened by an education in Anthropology

Anthropologists have always been involved in teaching, museum work, forensic investigation, and archaeological excavation, and job opportunities in these areas continue to be available for individuals with graduate degrees. The past several years have seen great increases in the number of anthropologists working in non-academic posts, to the point where today's business, health care, public policy, and education leaders frequently see anthropological training as a strong attribute in potential employees. Contemporary anthropologists work in several different fields and business sectors. There are many examples, such as:

  • Using participant observation and interview technique to design effective customer service solutions for Xerox;
  • Developing an understanding of child behavior and desires to invent new food products such as Go-gurt;
  • Working for the U.S. Government to ensure effective expenditure of tax dollars spent on aid projects overseas;
  • Interacting with patients, medical staff, and architects to design human-friendly hospitals and clinics;
  • Working with local school systems to design means of improving the educational experiences of immigrant children;
  • Assisting a public health department in the development of a campaign to encourage local citizens to eat better and exercise more;
  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating development programs in impoverished areas; among many, many other jobs.

Individuals with anthropological training are successful in these positions because they've learned to understand and appreciate multiple cultural points of view, to understand complex issues, and to effectively listen and communicate to achieve optimal solutions. This skillset has also been increasingly seen as positive by admissions personnel at medical, law, and other professional schools.

Some of our students go on to do graduate work in anthropology with the intent of calling themselves "anthropologists" for the rest of their lives, but plenty of others simply use their training in anthropology to provide a marketable and useful added skillset in careers such as social services, education, public policy, medicine, law, and business. The anthropology program at Roanoke College is designed to provide this added skillset, while also preparing students for graduate work in anthropology should they so choose. If you'd like to discuss how training in anthropology at RC might fit into your career aspirations (whether you have a solid career plan or simply a notion of things you enjoy doing), check in with Dr. Leeson,, or Dr. Morris,

The American Anthropological Association's website on careers in anthropology provides additional insight into the many doors opened by anthropological training:

Interested in exploring graduate programs in anthropology? Click here to get started.