4 Careers for Cultural Anthropology Graduates

By bcummings

cultural anthropology career paths graphic

Cultural anthropology may seemingly attract a very specific type of person (read: the Ross Gellers of the world), but the applications of this discipline are broader than you might think. If you’ve graduated with a degree in cultural anthropology, you may have many career options in your future. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016) found that employment for those in the fields of anthropology and archaeology is expected to grow 19 percent in 2012-2022, which is faster than the average of all occupations.

What is Cultural Anthropology?

The American Anthropological Association (2016) defines cultural anthropology as the study of human behavior related to cultural and social developments. Educated in a field that thrives on the heterogeneity of ideas, people, methods, and beliefs, you likely completed courses and field work that made you well rounded and ready to join the workforce. From classes in biology to linguistics to archaeology, you’ve developed an array of skills: record-keeping, attention to detail, analytical reading, critical thinking, verbal and interpersonal communication, research, and decision-making, among others.

These skills demonstrate your potential as an employee, and according to the Harvard Business Review (2014), that potential is what companies should look for in hiring new employees. Former recruiter Claudio Fernández-Aráoz explains, “Having spent 30 years evaluating and tracking executives and studying the factors in their performance, I now consider potential to be the most important predictor of success at all levels, from junior management to the C-suite and the board (para. 4).”

Moreover, the recruiter defines potential as “the ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments (para. 3.).” Cultural anthropology provides the right combination of education and experiences to help you launch into a great career. The skills you’ve gleaned from your degree set you up for success in a number of career paths.

Four Career Paths

1. Academia

A common path for cultural anthropologists, you may choose to go the scholarly route—in the lab or classroom, spreading education, giving lectures, and continuing to share your love for cultural anthropology. University departments such as linguistics, ecology, public health, community, cultural, and ethnic studies often hire cultural anthropologists.

2. Non-government Organization

A non-government position is another possible path. Organizations such as museums, health facilities, and other institutions employ cultural anthropologists to aid in planning, research, and managerial capacities.

3.) Research Work for Social Welfare

Research and community-based entities employ cultural anthropologists to build and execute various programs. From international health organizations to development banks and environmental organizations, welfare- and research-based settings are ideal for cultural anthropologists.

4. Consulting

A deep understanding of human behavior paired with research skills makes a cultural anthropologist ideally suited for a career path in consulting. Examining market trends and understanding consumer preferences, for instance, is par for the course with your background in understanding and synthesizing diverse organizational ideas.

Your passion for and degree in cultural anthropology does not mean you’ve limited your career options. On the contrary, the skills and experiences you’ve gained prepares you for a great many career paths.



Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.


American Anthropological Association. (2016). Careers in anthropology. Worcester, MA:

Fernández-Aráoz, C. (2014, June). 21st-century talent spotting. Harvard Business
. Retrieved from hbr.org

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Occupational outlook handbook.
          Washington, DC: N.A.

For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, please visit: www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/program-disclosures/?p=obaca.


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