Becoming an Applied Anthropologist: Applying Anthropology in the Real World

Becoming an Applied Anthropologist: Applying Anthropology in the Real World

Are you interested in learning how to apply the principles of anthropology in real-world settings? In this article, we will explore what it takes to become an applied anthropologist and how you can utilize your knowledge and skills in various fields. From conducting research to working with diverse communities, being an applied anthropologist allows you to make a positive impact on society. Read on to discover the exciting world of applied anthropology and how you can get started on this fulfilling career path.

Education and Training

To become an applied anthropologist, individuals must undergo specific education and training in the field of anthropology. This typically involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree in applied anthropology, as well as gaining practical experience through internships and fieldwork.

Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology

A bachelor’s degree in anthropology serves as the foundation for a career in applied anthropology. This undergraduate program introduces students to the theories, methods, and concepts of anthropology, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Coursework may cover topics such as ethnographic research, cultural diversity, and anthropological ethics.

Master’s Degree in Applied Anthropology

After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring applied anthropologists often pursue a master’s degree in applied anthropology. This graduate program delves deeper into the practical applications of anthropology in real-world settings, such as community development, public health, and environmental conservation. Students may engage in hands-on projects, research initiatives, and collaboration with community partners to address societal issues and implement solutions.

Internships and Fieldwork

In addition to formal education, internships and fieldwork experiences are essential components of training for applied anthropologists. These opportunities allow students to gain practical skills, apply theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, and build professional networks. Internships may be available through academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies. Fieldwork, on the other hand, involves conducting research in diverse cultural settings, engaging with local communities, and collecting data to inform anthropological practice.

Overall, a combination of academic coursework, hands-on training, and practical experience is crucial for individuals aspiring to become successful applied anthropologists. By obtaining a solid education and engaging in internships and fieldwork, aspiring professionals can develop the necessary skills and expertise to apply anthropology effectively in the real world.

Skills and Qualities

Becoming an applied anthropologist requires a specific set of skills and qualities in order to effectively apply anthropology in the real world. These skills and qualities include cultural competence, research and analysis skills, and communication and collaboration abilities.

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is a vital skill for applied anthropologists as they work with diverse populations and communities. It involves understanding and respecting different cultural beliefs, practices, and worldviews. Applied anthropologists must be able to navigate cultural differences and effectively communicate with people from various backgrounds in order to conduct their research and implement their findings.

Research and Analysis Skills

Applied anthropologists must possess strong research and analysis skills in order to gather data, interpret findings, and draw conclusions. They often conduct fieldwork, interviews, and observations to collect data on social behaviors, beliefs, and practices. Analyzing this data requires critical thinking and attention to detail to identify patterns and trends that can inform their work.

Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for applied anthropologists to work with clients, stakeholders, and communities. They must be able to communicate their research findings in a clear and accessible manner, whether through written reports, presentations, or consultations. Collaboration with other professionals, such as policymakers, educators, or healthcare providers, is also important to ensure that the insights gained from anthropology are applied in a meaningful way.

Career Paths

As an applied anthropologist, there are various career paths you can take to apply your knowledge and skills in the real world. Some common career paths include working in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and consulting firms.

Non-Profit Organizations

Non-profit organizations often hire applied anthropologists to help them better understand the communities they serve. Applied anthropologists in non-profit organizations may work on projects related to community development, social justice, public health, and more. They may conduct research, design programs, and implement interventions that aim to improve the well-being of marginalized populations.

Government Agencies

Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels also employ applied anthropologists to inform policy-making and program development. Applied anthropologists in government agencies may work on projects related to public health, environmental conservation, disaster response, and more. They may conduct research, evaluate programs, and provide recommendations to government officials based on their anthropological expertise.

Consulting Firms

Consulting firms often hire applied anthropologists to work on projects for a wide range of clients, including businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Applied anthropologists in consulting firms may work on projects related to market research, consumer behavior, organizational culture, and more. They may conduct ethnographic research, analyze data, and provide strategic recommendations to clients based on their anthropological insights.

Overall, becoming an applied anthropologist opens up a variety of career paths that allow you to make a meaningful impact in the real world by applying anthropological principles and methods to address complex social issues.


In conclusion, becoming an applied anthropologist offers individuals the opportunity to utilize their skills and knowledge in real-world settings to make a positive impact on society. By applying anthropological principles to address complex social issues, applied anthropologists can help create more inclusive and equitable solutions that benefit communities and organizations. Through a combination of research, fieldwork, and collaboration, applied anthropologists play a crucial role in promoting cultural understanding and social change. As the demand for professionals with expertise in applied anthropology continues to grow, there is no better time to embark on a rewarding career in this field.