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Anthropologists study all those things that make us human: material possessions, customs, migratory patterns and religion, to name a few. Anthropologists tend to specialize, because the human world is so diverse and complex. Physical anthropologists study genetics and anatomy to learn about human evolution, looking at things like heredity, environment and links among humans, apes and other primates. Linguistic anthropologists are concerned with the study of language. They want to see how languages develop, change and impact on human societies. Social and cultural anthropologists live amongst different cultural communities to study and compare the group with other groups. They observe, but do not influence, the study group's class structures, health practices, nutrition and population changes.

Their research can take them everywhere. From desert landscapes to upper class Japanese neighborhoods, from small native villages in Brazilian rainforests to inner-city slums in the United States, anthropologists can find information and research material where ever there are people, or where ever people have passed through.

Most anthropologists also work as applied anthropologists. That means they try to solve problems in our current societies by using information they got through their field of research. They can help governments as they work on health or immigrant-related issues, they can advise industries about the impact their products or pollution may have on future generations. They apply their knowledge to urban planning, social service initiatives and to anti-globalization studies.

Anthropologists don't only help the societies they come from. Many help the people they meet and learn from to develop irrigation and farming projects, secure medicine and drinking water, and build schools and energy stations. They use the knowledge the people have to help them create these things for themselves, in exchange for information about cultural life and traditions. By further encouraging traditional medicine by building a clinic, for example, the anthropologist has helped the people, as well as learned even more about traditional medical practices amongst those people.

Anthropologists are crucial to our society's development. They remind us about the impact we can have on not only ourselves, but those in other countries, and the future generations around the world.
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  Interests and Skills  
Anthropologists need excellent reading, writing and research skills, and should be naturally curious and respectful of other people and their cultures. They need an adventurous streak, and should be eager to travel and explore remote locations, foreign cities, and different communities. They should be interested in psychology, anatomy, linguistics and biology. Anthropologists must be able to work well on their own and with others. They should be thorough and analytical thinkers, as well as physically fit, as the job can entail lifting, hiking and sleeping on rough terrain.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Research in museums, libraries and on site, often in remote locations
  • Present papers to colleagues and students
  • Advise governments and corporations on policies and projects
  • Keep good notes and journals on findings
  • Write reports, books and academic articles
  • Stay up-to-date with all changes and discoveries in specialized field of study
  • The typical day for an anthropologist will depend on where they are working and the stage of research they have reached. Anthropologists who work for companies and universities have offices, where they will do a lot of reading, analyzing and writing. They will probably give a lecture or mark some papers, and attend meetings with colleagues. If they are on field studies, they will have to learn a new language, meet with many different kinds of people, including religious leaders, women, government officials and children. They must keep good notes and take photographs of their subjects. Anthropology is one career that guarantees at least some travel, and the chance to meet many kinds of people from many different cultures.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Anthropologists can be found working in a variety of settings, including government agencies; museums; universities, colleges, and high schools; and private organizations that carry out historical and cultural research on contract basis for different agencies and companies.
  • When they work in offices, they will have regular hours, with weekends and evenings free. But when they are on research tours, they can find themselves in any number of unpleasant and fascinating environments. They may live in tents, or homes of local residents, for long periods of time. They may have to work in remote areas, foreign countries, amongst strangers, far from their families. They may experience extreme heat, chilling cold and suffocating humidity. The hours on site may be long.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Anthropologists are highly trained, and the more education they have, the more job opportunities available to them. Along with researching and teaching at universities, there are always colleges and high schools looking for instructors, and museums in need of curators, technicians, and researchers.

People trained in anthropology, especially in applied anthropology, can get work in historical preservation, environmental management, as consultants for cultural initiatives, urban planning and development, health care, and as analysts and researchers for businesses who want to understand human behavior or some part of history, or who have found artifacts on site. They can be employed by these organizations, or they can be in business for themselves, and work in those capacities on contract.

  Educational Paths  
The educational path of an anthropologist depends on the sort of work they would like to do. First, a bachelor's degree from a university is required. It is important for prospective anthropologists to take some social science courses in preparation for their future working closely with other cultures. If individuals want to specialize in physical anthropology or linguistic anthropology, it is a good idea to take courses which reflect those areas. Specialization often occurs for anthropologists during their master's programs. Those who want to work as researchers or instructors with a university will also need to get their PhD in anthropology.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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