Careers in Social Anthropology

Jan 24, 2020

Career Options for Jobs in Social Anthropology

Social anthropology is the branch of anthropology that is particularly concerned with cultures, how groups of people behave and factors that affect cultural development. Group behavior is at the core of their focus and they can apply their investigative and analytical skills in a wide range of careers that have similarities to the work that social anthropologists do.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Sociologists $82,050 9%
Psychologists $79,010 14%
Market Research Analysts $63,120 20%
Historians $61,140 6%
Postsecondary Anthropology and Archeology Teachers $83,940 7%
Writers and Authors $62,170 0% (little to no change)
Anthropologists $62,410 (anthropologists and archeologists) 10% (anthropologists and archeologists)
Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers $48,400 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs in Social Anthropology


Sociologists work in a field that's closely related to social anthropology and typically concentrate on understanding how different groups in society can affect behavior. They spend their career conducting studies about how people behave and this is comparable to the interests of social anthropologists. They may also play a role in producing recommendations related to social issues; for example, they may advise elected officials about the likely impact of things such as educational policies. Sociologists with a bachelor's degree may be able to pursue opportunities in public policy but a master's or doctoral degree is necessary for most opportunities in this field.


Social anthropologists are interested in understanding how groups of people behave and for that reason they may be drawn to a career as a psychologist. Psychologists are also interested in researching factors that affect human behavior, such as interactions with others. Some entry-level positions in psychology can be pursued with a master's degree but a doctoral degree is required for many roles in this field. Psychologists can spend their careers conducting research projects and evaluating data or treating patients with behavioral issues.

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts help companies make business decisions by investigating consumer trends. Since social anthropologists are interested in cultural factors that may prompt people to make purchasing decisions they may find that this is a field that allows them to use their skills and continue research in subjects related to social anthropology. They assess information and make recommendations about which goods they think that different groups of people will buy and can help companies determine how much to charge for these products. A bachelor's degree is required to work in this field.


A master's or doctoral degree is required to become a historian. Social anthropologists may be interested in a career as a historian working for the government, because government historians investigate specific topics such as groups of people, government programs or historic events. Since social anthropologists are particularly interested in understanding group dynamics and issues that affect people they may find that a career as a historian gives them an opportunity to conduct research and produce reports about issues that relate to social anthropology.

Postsecondary Anthropology and Archeology Teachers

Postsecondary anthropology and archeology teachers typically need to have a Ph.D. in their field, although some may be able to secure entry-level positions at community colleges with a master's degree. Their role is to educate students who are pursuing postsecondary studies about their field of specialization. Social anthropologists may be drawn to the opportunity to instruct students preparing for a career in this field, and since it's common for postsecondary teachers to be involved with research they may be able to pursue studies in social anthropology in conjunction with teaching classes.

Writers and Authors

Social anthropologists may pursue employment as writers and authors because they can focus on research related to social anthropology and share their insights through printed materials such as books or reports. While writers and authors commonly prepare for their career by earning a degree in a subject such as journalism, with strong writing skills and training in a specialized field, such as social anthropology, they can carve out a career writing textbooks or other types of works related to their field of specialization.


Social anthropologists typically spend their career investigating how factors such as war affect cultures and society or providing marketing assessments for companies to help them make business decisions. They must have a master's or Ph.D. in their field to qualify for a career as an anthropologist. Their typical duties involve developing research plans, gathering relevant information, assessing the information and using it to support conclusions.

Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers

A master's degree is required for senior roles in museums, such as an archivist or curator. A bachelor's degree is sufficient to become a museum technician. Social anthropologists are ideally suited to a career as a museum curator because curators are responsible for gathering works that can be displayed. Since social anthropologists are familiar with social groups throughout history they can help determine the best way to group information effectively to relay information about different cultures, their behavior and their accomplishments.

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