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Anthropology & Sociology

Career Pathways

Contact Anthropology & Sociology  

Anthropology & Sociology

Mrs. Patti Hite, Department Secretary
102 Old Library Building
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2556

Anthropology Career Pathways at WCU

Pathways in Anthropology are not intended as rigid course requirements, but rather as road maps to support student interests and goals.

Archaeology and Preservation

Most archaeologists work in some applied area of the field involving the preservation, management, and interpretation of archaeological materials and cultural resources.

  • The Cultural Resources Management industry is the number one employer of archaeologists in the nation and across the world. CRM archaeology is the business and policy oriented branch of archaeology. It involves the preservation, protection, and management of archaeological and historical sites. CRM archaeologists work for private archaeological consulting firms, environmental consulting companies, and engineering corporations.
  • Historic Preservation archaeologists are employed by federal, State, and municipal governments to help preserve historic sites, buildings, objects, and antiquities of national significance.
  • Many Government Agencies maintain a staff of archaeologists. With an estimated six to seven million archaeological sites known to exist on federal and public land in the United States, the federal government, especially within the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, is the second largest employer of archaeologists in the U.S.
  • Heritage Tourism relies on archaeology to survey, excavate, and curate archaeological resources, and to educate the public on how their studies have shaped our knowledge of these places. Archaeologists are on staff at heritage sites across the nation and abroad, like George Washington's Mount Vernon, Historic Jamestown, Mesa Verde National Park, and UNESCO word heritage sites, such as Tenochtitlan and Palenque in Mexico.

Suggested specialization courses:

  • ANT 213 Archaeological Field Techniques
  • ANT 260 Artifacts and Culture
  • ANT 310 Human Paleontology
  • ANT 320 North American Indian Cultures
  • ANT 321 American Indian Today
  • ANT 352 Cultural Heritage
  • ANT 360 Historical Archaeology
  • ANT 362 Archaeology of Central America
  • ANT 364 Archaeology of Ancient North America
  • ANT 366 Archaeological Lab Methods
  • ANT 367 Archaeology & the Environment
  • ANT 368 Archaeological Field School
  • ANT 568 Advanced Archaeological Field School

Conservation and Sustainability Sectors

Environmental anthropologists work in conservation and sustainability jobs that are concerned with protecting the environment and promoting a balance between social responsibility and innovation in ways that won't compromise future resources. They are concerned with the relationships between people and their physical environment, and may work on issues such as natural disasters, pollution. and global climate change. Environmental anthropologists find careers in education, research, consulting and government.

  • Disaster response and recovery consultants gauge the impact of natural disasters disaster studies and emergency management.  following the life-cycle of a disaster event, from pre-disaster vulnerability, conceptions of risk, individual and social responses and coping strategies, and relief management and may work organizations such as FEMA and humanitarian organizations.
  • Anthropologists may work as land use analysts for government agencies like the USDA Forest Service to integrate human and natural systems in the development of recreational opportunities, management of open space, and the promotion of ecosystem resources as public good.
  • Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industryIt is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel, and is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves inclusive interpretation and education.  Anthropologists play a critical role in building cultural awareness, raising sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climates, and assisting with the development of community empowerment.
  • Anthropologists may work for international NGOs like the Nature Conservancy to help protect indigenous land rights and promote sustainability initiatives.

Suggested specialization courses:

  • ANT 227   Sustainable Food Systems
  • ANT 230   Introduction to Primatology
  • ANT 260   Artifacts and Culture
  • ANT 340   Folklore in Society
  • ANT 367   Archaeology & the Environment
  • ANT 368   Archaeological Field School
  • ANT 375    Ethnographic Field School
  • ANT 568   Advanced Archaeological Field School

*other courses in archaeology or cultural anthropology

Consulting and Market Research

Increasingly, anthropologists are being recruited by local and international corporations for their specific skills in cross-cultural communication and their ability to analyze human behavior, organizational structures, and corporate cultures. Large corporations have started investing in anthropologists and anthropological research for consumer research and product design, either through consulting firms or by hiring their own teams.

  • Google hired anthropologists to observe people using mobile devices to understand how to create better mobile interactionsby looking at why people use their phones, not just what they do on them.
  • Procter & Gamble worked with anthropologists in the development of the Swiffer, which has remained one of the company's most popular products.
  • Coca cola commissioned ethnographic research in their development of bottled tea products for the Chinese market. The research resulted in removing sugar and added flavorings from the tea beverages.
  • Adidas has in-house anthropologists to understand how their products are used and valued, leading them to pioneer “urban sport” products for those who wish to jog, practice yoga, or informally work out in style.
  • Microsoft is the second largest employer of anthropologists.

Suggested specialization courses:

  • ANT 220   Cultures of Ethnic Groups in America
  • ANT 244   Native People of South America
  • ANT 260   Artifacts and Culture
  • ANT 322   Ethnology of Central America
  • ANT 326   Cultures and Peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • ANT 326   Cultures and Peoples of India
  • ANT 329   Problems in Ethnology
  • ANT 344   Magic, Religion, and Witchcraft
  • ANT 347   The Culture of Cities
  • ANT 348   Dimensions of Ethnographic Film/Video
  • ANT 352   Cultural Heritage
  • ANT 375    Ethnographic Field School

Global Health and Nutrition

Medical anthropology is the study of how people in different cultural settings experience and think about health, illness, and health care from an anthropological perspective that is both biological and cultural. Medical anthropologists are engaged in health-related research, both domestically and internationally, in health policy analysis, and consulting, and are employed in health care, public health, and health education settings. They often act as cultural mediators, helping to communicate cross-cultural understandings of health and illness to make public health initiatives more effective for specific groups. Examples of projects and research that medical anthropologists have been involved with include the impact of AIDS on Central African societies, the consequences of the traumas of war on families in Sri Lanka and Guatemala, the role of malnutrition in Brazilian ideas of children's illness, the effects of migration on the mental health of ethnic minority groups, and the societal significance of illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder. Nutritional and food anthropologists focus on the ecology of food and nutrition, evolution of the human diet, the relationship of food to health, and cross-cultural foodways.

Suggested Specialization Courses

  • ANT 227         Sustainable Food Systems
  • ANT 310         Human Paleontology
  • ANT 312         Medical Anthropology
  • ANT 340         Folklore in Society
  • ANT 344         Magic, Religion, and Witchcraft

*other courses in medical and nutritional anthropology, archaeology or cultural anthropology

Museum Work and the Culture Industry

According to the American Alliance of Museums, there are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, nearly double the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined. Museums employ more than 400,000 Americans and directly contribute over $21 billion to the U.S. economy each year. Anthropologists work in museums as exhibit designers and curators and marketing and development officers. Anthropologists frequently consult for museums and other institutions that make up the “culture industry” (the performing and visual arts, galleries, and historic sites), by conducting audience research into who visits these institutions, how, and why.

  • Museum Archivists catalog and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents.
  • Museum Curators are content specialists who acquire and protect museum collections and develop programs to present these items to the public.
  • Museum Educators develop and strengthen the educational role of museums by engaging visitors in learning experiences and to enhance their curiosity and interest in their objects and collections.
  • Museum Development Officers coordinate fundraising, membership campaigns, annual funds and sponsorship events.  This is the financial end of museum operations.
  • Audience Research Consultants work inside and outside the museum to provide in-depth analyses of visitor motivations and behaviors, which aids the museum and others in culture industry to more effectively meet the needs and interests of their visitors. 

Suggested specialization courses:

  • ANT 260   Artifacts and Culture
  • ANT 280   Museum Techniques
  • ANT 352   Cultural Heritage
  • ANT 366   Archaeological Lab Methods

*other courses in archaeology or cultural anthropology

Tourism and Heritage Industry

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As more communities become dependent on income from tourism, and tourists become increasingly aware of the ethical, environmental and political dimensions of being a tourist, new demands are being placed on the industry. Anthropologists in the tourism industry work with governments, NGOs, and cultural agencies on sustainable cultural tourism initiatives.  Many work as policy analyst, consultants, preservationists and conservationists, or as educators to inform tour operators, tourists, study abroad offices, or media companies about cultural and ecological considerations. Through the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism program, anthropologists have helped local communities to benefit from tourism.

Suggested Specialization Courses:

  • ANT 227   Sustainable Food Systems
  • ANT 230   Introduction to Primatology
  • ANT 260   Artifacts and Culture
  • ANT 340   Folklore in Society
  • ANT 347   The Culture of Cities
  • ANT 348   Dimensions of Ethnographic Film/Video
  • ANT 352   Cultural Heritage     
  • ANT 368   Archaeological Field School
  • ANT 375    Ethnographic Field School

*other courses in archaeology or cultural anthropology

Transferrable Skills

Anthropology also provides students the opportunity to gain a broad range of transferrable, or 'soft' skills that are widely applicable and highly desireable by most employers. Soft Skills and Hard Problems

  • Project Development Skills
  • Research/Anlaysis Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Interpersonal and Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Communication Skills

Why Become an Anthropologist?

Anthropologists are highly versatile and broadly-trained, develop a critical array of transferable skills, and are thus able to succeed in an extensive range of fields and careers. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, anthropology and archaeology-related careers are projected to experience a 19% increase from 2012 to 2022, significantly higher than the 11% growth forecast for all occupations.

The following areas are current anthropology career pathways identified in a recent study conducted by the American Anthropological Association:

  • Education/Outreach
  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
  • Historic Preservation
  • Museum/Curation/Project Design
  • Community Development
  • Advocacy (human rights/social justice)
  • Human/Social Services
  • Computers/Software Development/Information Technology
  • Design (products and/or services)
  • International Development/Affairs
  • Forensics
  • Mass Communication
  • Administration/Management
  • Ethnography/Cultural Anthropology
  • Evaluation/Assessment
  • Health (international/public health)
  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Business
  • Tourism/Heritage
  • Healthcare Management/Services/Deliver
  • Management Consulting/Organizational Development/Training
  • Social Impact Assessment
  • Market Research
  • Law/Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement
  • Humanitarian Efforts