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How to Become an Anthropologist or Archeologist

Anthropologists and archeologists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. for most positions. Experience doing anthropological fieldwork is also important.


Anthropologists and archeologists may qualify for many positions with a master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs are 2 years in duration and include field research.

Although a master’s degree is enough for many positions, jobs that require leadership roles and more technical experience may require a Ph.D. A Ph.D. takes several years of study beyond a master’s degree and completion of a doctoral dissertation. Ph.D. students typically spend between 12 months and 30 months doing field research for their dissertation.

To direct projects outside the United States, anthropologists and archeologists typically need a Ph.D. to comply with the requirements of foreign governments.

Most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology find jobs in other fields, although a limited number find jobs as field, laboratory, or research assistants.

Those with a bachelor’s degree in archeology and work experience in an internship or field school can work as a field archeologist or do basic laboratory work. However, archeologists need a master’s degree to advance beyond entry-level positions.

Many people with a Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology become professors or museum curators. For more information on these occupations, see the profiles on postsecondary teachers and curators and museum technicians.

To become an anthropologist or archeologist, graduates need some work experience in these fields. Many candidates fulfill this requirement through field experience or internships with museums, historical societies, or nonprofit organizations.

Anthropologists and archeologists typically spend part of their graduate program conducting field research. Many students also attend archeological field schools, which teach students how to excavate, record, and interpret historical and archeological sites.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Anthropologists and archeologists often use scientific methods and data analysis in their research.

Critical-thinking skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must draw logical conclusions from observations, laboratory experiments, and other methods of research.

Investigative skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must seek and explore all facts relevant to their research. They must combine pieces of information to try to solve problems and to answer research questions.

Writing skills. Anthropologists and archeologists need strong writing skills, because they often write reports detailing their research findings.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition