What is Anthropology?

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humankind. Specifically, the study of what makes us human and how the diversity of our humanity helps us engage with the world differently.

Students at a Seed Table

WCU Anthropology students at a Seed Swap Event

Anthropology is a broad social science discipline that allows for the study of culture, biology, history, and language (just to name a few things) within the context of human diversity.

Majoring in anthropology means you will learn what it means to be human from both a scientific and cultural perspective. Anthropology majors understand that human societies are products of the interactions between their environment and their culture.

Anthropology majors acquire lifelong learning skills such as: critical thinking, problem solving, clarity in writing, analytical reading, interpersonal collaboration, time management, organization and prioritization, and oral communication; all of which enables success in numerous careers.

The short answer is ANYTHING! Anthropologists have the professional skills to succeed in modern business, research, education, advocacy, and public service.

As a social science, Anthropology prepares you to understand people; particularly people with different backgrounds or worldviews. Because Anthropologists have been trained to examine human diversity, they are very well suited to work with people, and/or study how people work.

As the automation of various jobs continues to expand, research by World Economic Forum indicates that social skills, such as those learned in anthropology will be one of the two major skills needed for careers in the modern workforce! (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/jobs-of-future-and-skills-you-need/)

Government and Non-profit agencies

Businesses and Consulting firms


Laboratories and Medical examiner’s offices

Museums, Libraries, and Zoos

Colleges and universities (as educators and administrators)

Advocacy groups and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

For more information about anthropology as a major, see:

Anthropology, the best major to change your life, and the world

The usefulness of anthropology

What can I do to prepare for a job as an anthropologist?

Employers will want you to have experience that shows application of your skillset. You should seek out experiences that will give you bullet points in a resume or talking points in an interview. Valuable experiences include field work or volunteering/interning with an organization you like. Character building in the form of travel or charity work shows that you seek out ways to interact with people from various cultures. In your coursework, choose your electives in ways that broaden your horizons. Statistics and writing are valuable courses for all sub-fields of anthropology and being able to analyze large datasets is attractive to employers in the business sector. Courses in any form of technology: computer programming, microscopy, radiology, drawing, photography, etc. are also applicable.

Where can I find a job?

There are multiple places to look. It is also worthwhile to contact employers at places you want to work and drop off a resume or CV. Prove to them that you are proactive and have a valuable skillset. The links listed below are pages dedicated to more formal anthropology jobs but anthropologists can work anywhere, so be creative in your job hunt. 

Places to look for jobs:

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