Careers in Physical Anthropology

Aug 02, 2021

Careers in Physical Anthropology

The field of physical anthropology focuses on the human body, its development, and its various physical characteristics and features. For individuals who have pursued an education in this field, there are a variety of career options for which they may be eligible depending on their interests, career goals, and whether they have any additional educational background. We will look at a few of these career options in greater detail below.

Job Title Median Salary (2020)* Job Growth (2019-2029)*
Anthropology Post-Secondary Teacher $89,220 (for all post-secondary anthropology and archeology teachers) 4% (for all post-secondary anthropology and archeology teachers)
Museum Curator $56,990 13%
Forensic Anthropologist $55,250 (2021)** 5% (for all anthropologists and archeologists)
Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist $66,350 4%
Zookeeper $26,370 (for all animal care and service workers) 22% (for all animal care and service workers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Information About Careers in Physical Anthropology

Anthropology Post-Secondary Teacher

If you are passionate about sharing your interest and enthusiasm for the field of physical anthropology with others, you may consider pursuing a career as a professor of anthropology at a college or university. In this role, you will be responsible for teaching courses in specific aspects of physical anthropology, leading classroom discussions, assigning homework, and evaluating students based on their performance. You may also work with students more closely as an advisor and help them conduct research. To become a post-secondary teacher, you will generally need at least a master's degree in the field of anthropology.

Museum Curator

Another option for physical anthropologists is a job as a museum curator, which would involve managing the collection at a museum. As physical anthropologists are particularly interested in the human body, you may seek a job at a museum of natural history that focuses heavily on human development and the role humans have played in the history of the world. Some curators are also responsible for organizing educational meetings and events for museum patrons, in which case your expertise in physical anthropology could be put to good use. Curators often have a master's degree in a relevant field, in which case a master's degree in anthropology would suffice.

Forensic Anthropologist

If you have an interest in criminal justice and crime, you may also consider pursuing a career as a forensic anthropologist. In this role, you may have a number of responsibilities, depending on your place of work, as some of these professionals may work with coroners or medical examiners to provide their expertise on the human body, while others may work within the legal system as an expert witness. In addition to training in physical anthropology, it is helpful for forensic anthropologists to pursue training and education in forensic science as well as legal proceedings.

Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist

Physical anthropologists may be interested in studying other types of animals, beyond humans, in order to gain a better understanding of human development as well as animal behavior. As a zoologist or wildlife biologist, you may focus on a specific type of species or group of animal, or you may focus on a more specific field of zoology, like animal behavior or physiology. Many zoologists and wildlife biologists spend much of their time in the field or in laboratories conducting research. To become a zoologist or wildlife biologist, you will usually need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, though an advanced degree may help you qualify for more research-oriented positions.


Another option for physical anthropologists who love animals would be a job as a zookeeper. Zookeepers are generally in charge of overseeing the well-being of the animals who are kept in the zoo, though some large zoos are also involved in research and in helping restore animal populations though breeding and reproduction efforts. Physical anthropologists may be particularly interested in this aspect of the job, as well as the ability to study the behavior of animals who are held in captivity. To become a zookeeper, you will generally need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field like animal science and students of physical anthropology will likely also qualify.

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