Anthropologists and Archaeologists

Last updated December 31, 2014

Why did new English words start popping up among the British colonists in North America? How were class distinctions in the New World different from those in the Old World? What can we learn about our ancestors from ancient skeletons and pottery fragments?

If you’re fascinated by questions like these, consider a career as an anthropologist or archaeologist. While some of these professionals are involved in research for its own sake, others use their skills in the world of business or government.

Anthropologists study people and primates (such as chimps), researching their cultural, physical, and social development over time. Archaeologists investigate history by finding and studying the remains and objects a society leaves behind.

Did You Know?

Archaeology is alive and well in Deadwood, South Dakota, where construction on a new parking lot was halted when workers found the remains of the old Chinatown.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Write reports under strict deadlines
  • Spend hours analyzing data and crunching numbers
  • Juggle teaching and research if you’re a professor
  • Travel to and live in unfamiliar cultures
  • Do tough physical work in harsh weather at a dig or building site
  • Work both independently and as part of a team
  • Learn more at the websites of the American Anthropological Association or the Archaeological Institute of America.

It Helps To Be...

Curious, creative, patient, analytical, and open-minded. You’ll need good writing and speaking skills to help people understand the results of your research.

Make High School Count

  • Work hard in all of your classes. You will need a lot of different skills and will use what you learn in English, social studies, math, science, and foreign languages.
  • Make the most of research assignments. Learn the best ways to find and organize information.
  • Look for a summer job or internship at a local museum, library, historic site, or historical society.

Did You Know?

Anthropologists can help businesses decide how best to sell their products. They can also help politicians decide how best to attract voters.