Anthropology Professor Qualifications

Aspiring anthropology professors need teaching experience.
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If an academic whirl suits you as well as studying humankind, a career as an anthropology professor might be a good fit. In colleges and universities, professors' duties include preparing lectures, writing for scholarly publications based on their research and finding research grants. Bonus points for the fact that "Forbes" magazine named anthropologist as one of the 10 top jobs for women in 2012, based on women in the field reporting high satisfaction levels.


    An aspiring anthropology professor needs to study hard for a doctorate in the field. After getting an undergrad degree, you'll have to get a master's degree, typically focused on one of the fields four main subfields -- archeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington notes that it can frequently take five to eight years or more to earn a doctorate, depending on factors such as having children or tight finances, as well as the nature of your research project and necessary data collection. Ph.D. students typically spend between 12 and 30 months alone doing field research for their dissertation. Also, you'll need teaching experience, which you can accomplish by becoming a teaching assistant, or TA, in grad school, to conduct undergrad labs or discussion sections. Because anthropologists sometimes participate on digs relating to cultures, as a grad student, you might want to attend an archeological field school to learn how to excavate, record and interpret various sites.


    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that anthropologists need strong analytical skills and knowledge of scientific methods for their research, and critical-thinking skills to draw logical constitutions from their observations, laboratory experiments and other methods of research. They also need investigative skills to find factors relevant to their research and combine pieces of information to answer research questions. And they need strong writing skills to report their research findings. As a teacher, you'll also need good communication skills to give lectures, and instructional skills to present information in ways students will understand. You'll need to be adaptable to different learning styles and teaching students who have little or no experience in anthropology. And perhaps patience, too.

Working Conditions

    Competition for academic positions is keen. Beyond the anthropology department, you may be able to land a position in other university departments, such as schools of medicine, cultural studies, linguistics, education, ecology, cognitive psychology and neural science. The I Have a Plan Iowa website notes that greater demand for social sciences in high schools might also increase demand for anthropologists who can teach. In universities, most anthropology professors work regular weeks of approximately 40 hours. But when they are in the field, their hours can be long, irregular and performed in inclement weather.

Job Outlook

    Although the BLS predicts employment of post-secondary teachers to increase 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations, it also notes that positions in the humanities will probably not be as plentiful as for fields such as nursing and engineering.

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