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Anthropologists study the biological and cultural makeup, adaptations and evolution of human beings and their primate kin, as well as the nature of human societies and languages.

  • Avg. Salary $87,546.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.18
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Applied Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Biological Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropologist, Forensic Anthropologist, Linguistic Anthropologist, Medical Anthropologist, Physical Anthropologist, Research Scientist, Social Anthropologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Anthropologists (4169.1);  Archaeologists (4169.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science (E038) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
Interest Codes
The Anthropologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Interest in co-ordinating information to gather and analyze data on social and cultural behaviour, artifacts, language and human biology, and to undertake comparative studies of societies and cultures, or of selected aspects of cultures, of living people and of peoples no longer in existence


Interest in consulting to report on data; may teach anthropology at advanced educational levels


Interest in reconstructing records of extinct cultures by studying remains obtained from archaeological excavations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More


Interest in co-ordinating information to interpret the significance of archaeological finds by determining the importance of the history conveyed by artifacts and the extent to which they reflect the lives of the peoples who produced them


Interest in consulting with authorities to provide advice concerning the search for the remains of buildings and the collection, identification and preservation of artifacts; and in selecting site locations and overseeing excavations


Interest in handling artifacts to examine and classify them, and to determine authenticity and identity

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 05, 2016

Anthropologists study all aspects of human and non-human primate society and culture, past and present, including cultural remains, traditions, beliefs, customs, languages, patterns of subsistence and settlement. For example, their research may focus on cultural beliefs and symbols, kinship and social organization, ethnicity, or the religious, economic, political and legal aspects of a society. Other types of research may involve the use of scientific techniques such as radiometric dating, Geographical Information System (GIS) or Global Positioning System (GPS), residue analysis, stratigraphic mapping (mapping rock layers), and statistical data analysis and interpretation.

Anthropologists may specialize in particular geographic areas of the world, in particular time periods or in populations of a specific region. They also may specialize in any one or more of the following subfields of anthropology:

  • Physical or biological anthropologists may study human evolution (palaeoanthropology), the behaviour and biology of non-human primates, human skeletal remains, or human variations or adaptations as influenced by heredity and environment. For example, forensic anthropologists assist police in the identification and analysis of human remains.
  • Archaeologists reconstruct, describe and interpret the origin, characteristics and development of modern and ancient human societies and cultures, mainly through field study and context of archaeological sites and their material contents. They may also work in cultural resource management to mitigate the impact of natural resource development.
  • Cultural or social anthropologists describe and explain unique differences and fundamental similarities in the global human community to achieve a clearer understanding of ourselves. For example, medical anthropologists examine human health and health systems, which can include attention to nutrition, environment and development, bio-medical and alternative health care.
  • Linguistic anthropologists study the development and everyday use of human languages and, in particular, modern language patterns and their influence on thought and action. They may also be involved in language revitalization projects with local communities.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Some anthropologists work primarily indoors in offices, classrooms and laboratories. Others work outdoors in field environments. When conducting fieldwork, anthropologists may live in tents or in local housing sometimes in remote locations, often working long hours (sometimes alone) for extended periods of time. Fieldwork is usually seasonal and some of the work can be physically demanding.

Anthropologists work closely with researchers in other disciplines such as human anatomy, medicine, biology, geology, geography, chemistry, museum studies, history and sociology. They also may supervise field and laboratory staff and volunteers.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Anthropologists need the following characteristics:

  • flexibility to adapt to unfamiliar and changing circumstances
  • understanding, respect and tolerance for other cultures, peoples and regions
  • a natural curiosity about other cultures
  • patience
  • the ability to do required physical labour
  • comfortability with travel, especially overseas
  • a willingness to work in potentially challenging field conditions
  • good organizational skills
  • the ability to pay close attention to details
  • the ability to analyze problems and think logically
  • excellent observational and recording skills
  • strong oral and written communication skills. 

As researchers, anthropologists should enjoy:

  • collecting and analyzing data
  • finding innovative approaches to intellectual puzzles
  • consulting with and directing the work of others
  • taking a precise methodological approach to interpreting and understanding human behaviour.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Anthropologists have a variety of educational backgrounds. Most begin with a bachelor's degree (BA, B.Sc.) in anthropology or in a related discipline. In addition to courses in anthropology, biological anthropologists require extensive training in human anatomy and biology. Archaeologists should have a solid background in the earth sciences including geology and geography. A second language is an asset if an anthropologist is conducting fieldwork outside their home country.

Specialization in particular areas of anthropology generally requires a master's (MA or M.Sc.) or doctoral (PhD) degree in anthropology. Research and teaching positions at the post-secondary level normally require a doctoral degree.

Admission to graduate programs (MA, M.Sc., PhD) generally requires successful completion of a 4-year bachelor's degree program (preferably in the honour's stream and with completion of an undergraduate research paper called an honour's thesis).

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Athabasca University

Grant MacEwan University

Mount Royal University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Anthropologists may work for:

  • museums as museum technicians, curators or exhibit directors 
  • provincial and federal government departments involved in conservation or research programs, parks and historic site development, or cultural resources and public education
  • First Nation communities conducting research, recording cultural history, managing cultural resources, as well as working on land and treaty claims nagotiations and conflict mediation
  • private and public sector organizations that carry out market research, social and historical research and impact assessments or ethnographic (study of people and culture) research
  • colleges and universities teaching and conducting research.

Individuals who have a bachelor's degree may be employed on a seasonal contract basis. Those who have master's degrees may find employment as teachers in community colleges, or work in government, museums or consulting firms. To pursue independent research in anthropology or teach at the university level, a PhD degree is essential.

To carry out archaeological research in Alberta an Archeological Research Permit from the Government of Alberta is required. To qualify, applicants must have at least a master's degree in anthropology or archaeology, 24 weeks of supervised training in archaeological suveying and excavation techniques and 6 weeks of training in curation or laboratory analysis.

Due to very low employment turnover and a limited number of positions, employment and advancement opportunities are limited. Currently, at the bachelor's and master's degree level, there is a trend toward short-term, contract work rather than long-term employment with a single employer.

Anthropologists employed by universities are involved in teaching as well as field and laboratory research (for more information, see the University Professor occupational profile).

Anthropologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science. In Alberta, 79% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Salaries for university positions vary with:

  • personal qualifications
  • academic qualifications
  • administrative responsibilities
  • the particular faculty and university.

For more information, see the University professors and lecturers wage profile.

Anthropologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group earned on average from $34.92 to $47.66 an hour. The overall average was $44.18 an hour. For more information, see the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Social Studies
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Humanities and Languages
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 05, 2016

Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) website:

Canadian Archaeological Association website:

The Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology (CAPA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 04, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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