Applied Anthropologist

Study a group of people to solve real-world problems.

What does an Applied Anthropologist do?

The job of an Applied Anthropologist—or “Practicing Anthropologist”—is to apply the method and theory of anthropology to real-world social problems.

Like trigonometry, chemistry, and economics, anthropology — the study of human beings — is one of those subjects about which most students ask, “When will I use this in the real world?” Most of the time, the honest answer is, “Never.” For an Applied Anthropologist, however, the answer is, “Every day!”

While most Anthropologists spend their days teaching and researching, Applied Anthropologists are much more hands on. Employed by private businesses and government—in industries as diverse as defense, criminal justice, education, health care, and human services—you’re paid to analyze communities with the purpose of better serving them. For example, you might work for an American corporation that wants to learn how to sell more products in China, for a hospital that wants to find out how to raise cancer awareness among African-Americans, or for the military when it wants to prepare itself for enemy resistance in occupied nations.

The options, really, are infinite. The common thread among all of them, however, is your goal, which is to understand how humans think and behave — not so you can learn about them in museums, but so you can better solve their problems.