The first time you hear about medical anthropology, it may cause you to wonder what the heck it is. Medical anthropology is the area of the field that deals with the intersection of society, culture and medicine. Because this area includes so many fields, the career possibilities are numerous. If you have a degree in medical anthropology, you can find careers in many areas, including areas of teaching, research and social medicine.
Who knew you could be a professor of such a seemingly obscure area? A professor of medical anthropology works in a college or university and needs at least a master’s degree; those at the university level most often require a doctorate degree. Professors often get to both teach and do their research, which can vary widely from the study of tribal medicine to the reasons for disease outbreaks in specific areas. If you love to teach and do research, this may be a career path for you, and it is a well-compensated profession with a median salary of $76,020 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An epidemiologist brings to mind movies about horrible virus outbreaks, but they rarely get to see that kind of action. More likely, they collect samples, seek out public health problems and try to find solutions for them, and plan widespread public health programs to ensure a healthy population. They most often work for local, state and the federal government, insurance agencies, universities and drug companies. Being one requires at least a master’s degree and sometimes a doctorate, especially those researching at the university level -- but the advanced degree is worth it, as this occupation is expected to grow by 24 percent by 2020 with an average salary of $63,010.
A medical scientist with a background in medical anthropology can do all kinds of cool things; some conduct clinical trials or investigate the background and cause of disease, while others study specific tissue or bacterial samples to find out more information about a specific disease-causing agent. To be a medical scientist, you must have a doctoral degree. Most medical scientists work at universities or large private or government-funded research facilities. This field is in high demand; the BLS projects a 36 percent rise in expected vacancies and an average yearly salary of $76,700 per year.
If you love going out into the world and spreading your knowledge and learning more, then you may want to consider being a health educator. Health educators deal with communities, assessing what possible health problems exist and what the causes are and figuring out how education may prevent, treat or cure these problems. Health educators work for health-care companies, state or local governments and nonprofit agencies. If you want to pursue this career, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s may be required for some positions. This is another quickly growing occupation, with an anticipated growth rate of 37 percent by 2020 and an average salary of $45,830 annually.
- Society of Medical Anthropology: What is Medical Anthropology?
- University of Toronto: Medical Anthropology Career Options
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Epidemiologists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Health Educators
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