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University Course Year 12 Preferred

Anthropologists study the origin, development and functioning of human societies and cultures, as they exist now or have existed throughout history.

Anthropologists are concerned with the complexities of social and cultural life, including religion, rituals, family and kinship systems, languages, art, music, symbolism and economic and political systems.

An anthropologist's main research method is long-term fieldwork, which involves living with the people being studied and learning through participation in activities, often under difficult conditions.

There is considerable overlap in the areas of specialisation in anthropology. For this reason, specialist anthropologists sometimes conduct joint research.


    An anthropologist may perform the following tasks:

  • work in different communities to gather and analyse information on the social and cultural behaviour, artefacts, language and biology of groups and societies that they are studying
  • collect, identify, date, protect and preserve indigenous artefacts, material possessions and other objects of anthropological interest


  • capacity for detailed observation and accurate practical work
  • able to work independently
  • enthusiasm for research
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • sensitive to other people and cultures

Interest Area

Scientific Figures/Computational Outdoor Literary


Applied Anthropologist - may work in areas such as social policy and planning, social impact assessment, conservation, advocacy, community development, women and development, cultural resource management, land claims and social justice.

Biological/Physical Anthropologist - concerned with the biological evolution and variations of the human species and other primates (past and present), and with the interactions between biology, ecology and culture over the life spans of individuals. Some biological anthropologists study the bones of people who lived in the distant past, working closely with archaeologists.

Linguistic Anthropologist - studies the evolution, structure, history and function of languages, and how they influence, or are influenced by, other aspects of social life.

Social/Cultural Anthropologist - studies patterns of social and cultural practices and beliefs in societies and sub-cultures, often linking these with broader regional, national and/or international processes. Social/cultural anthropologists typically focus on contemporary cultures (those existing now) but may place these in historical context.


University Course Year 12 Preferred

To become an anthropologist you usually have to complete a degree in science, arts, social science or international studies at university with a major in anthropology (preferably at honours level), followed by a postgraduate qualification in anthropology. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12 with English. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in science, arts, social science or international studies with a major in anthropology.

Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree with honours.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Additional Information

    In collecting information about a society, anthropologists may have to learn another language.

    Ordinary membership of the Australian Anthropological Society is open to people who have completed an honours degree in anthropology.


The major employers of anthropologists are universities, museums and government departments concerned with Aboriginal welfare and Native Title, immigration and ethnic affairs, multiculturalism and social services. They are also employed by development and conservation organisations, including United Nations agencies and other non-government organisations. Some graduates become secondary teachers, and a smaller number of graduates are employed by universities as part-time tutors while they gain postgraduate qualifications.

A growing number of positions are available at Aboriginal Land Council offices or in research relating to Native Title claims and heritage clearance. Positions are advertised in government gazettes, newspapers, professional journals and on various websites.

In recent times, there has been an increase in anthropological consultancy work funded by both government and private industry, leading to the formation of a number of anthropological and archaeological companies.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Anthropologist Australian Anthropological Society Inc Museums and Galleries NSW

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