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What Do Anthropologists Do?

Anthropology is the scientific and humanistic study of humankind. It looks at the human experience from a holistic, cross-cultural perspective that considers culture as well as biology, the past as well as the present, and both small and large societies.


Anthropologists may study such diverse topics as the language of Brazilian tribes, the evolution of bipedalism, the ancient frankincense trading routes that led to Ubar, or the sign language of chimpanzees, with the ultimate goal of understanding from a cross-cultural and evolutionary perspective who and what humans are, how we came to be this way, and what is our probable future.


Training in anthropology helps students gain a fuller understanding of both other cultures and our own. Anthropological research contributes to the scientific and humanistic understanding of humankind, as well as providing knowledge that can be used to solve human problems. The study of anthropology also prepares students to apply for grants in the sciences and the humanities. The following is just a partial list of the types of careers made possible by a degree in Anthropology from CSUF.


Archaeologists work for national and state historic agencies monitoring historic and prehistoric site information, conduct archaeological surveys for Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firms as part of development, consult for museums and Native American populations, and do research on the reconstruction of past cultures.


Business Anthropologists are employed by corporations as consultants in management and employee relations, as human resources personnel, and as cultural trainers for international business. They may work in advertising, in market research, or in design.


Coroner's Investigators work in crime labs analyzing human remains.


Economic Anthropologists contribute to the study of how goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed within a given cultural context.


Educational Anthropologists may use methods, data, and perspectives of anthropology to study the practices, programs, and problems in educational settings.


Environmental Consultants may work for agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or for business in the private sector. Awareness of how human communities adapt to their environments provides an excellent background for research in environmental studies.


International Development agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the Peace Corps hire anthropologists to travel and work throughout the world while participating in a wide variety of development and research programs.


Linguists do research on language (its evolution, distribution, and function), serve as translators, and work for schools, local government, and international government on matters pertaining to language and culture.


Medical Researchers in hospitals, community organizations, and international agencies such as the World Health Organization can benefit from a background in Anthropology. Medical Anthropology provides students with a solid foundation in biocultural systems and cross-cultural comparisons of medical systems.


Museum Curators research, preserve, and present ideas and artifacts in museum displays.


Non-Profit Foundation workers raise funds or administer funds for non-profit foundations concerned with social welfare and community needs.


Nutritional Anthropologists study the role of food and nutrition in the human experience, including nutrition and health, culture-based dietary restrictions, food and technology, and the historical diffusion of various food types between societies.


Primatologists work in zoos, and do research on and promote conservation issues concerning non-human primates that are headed toward extinction.


Social Workers and Counselors work in a variety of local community, national, and international contexts.


Teachers with a background in anthropology teach at the K-12, community college, or university level. Educational Anthropologists are trained to compare cultural systems by which societies perpetuate knowledge. Anthropologists make good teachers in particular because of their sensitivity to ethnocentrism.


Urban Anthropologists may study such diverse topics as migration patterns, unemployment, crime, health, race relations, homelessness, ethnic neighborhoods, heath care, and land use and city-planning.


Various professions such as police work, nursing, legal fields, teaching, social services, management, psychology, and many others are enhanced by a background in anthropology.


Visual Anthropologists make films, take photographs, or analyze visual material as cultural products. An anthropological background is useful for capturing meaningful images of the human condition, and for analyzing the cultural meanings embedded in visual representations.


Writers. Anthropology provides a good academic background for many types of writing. Be a freelance writer, journalist, or professional consultant with a solid foundation in writing skills and rich cross-cultural experience.


To Find Out More:

The Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton is located in McCarthy Hall, Room 426 (MH-426).

Contact us at (657)278-3626, or visit our website at