Undoubtedly, when some of you have mentioned to your parents that you are considering majoring in anthropology, they look at you with a blank stare and ask "what kind of gainful employment can you get with a degree in that field?" In fact, with a little ingenuity and persistence, there are many jobs open to students with a BA or BS degree in anthropology. In addition, a Bachelor's degree in anthropology can serve as a solid foundation for entering other fields: law, medicine, teaching, documentary film, international business, health-related jobs, museum work, environmental impact assessment, international development, public relations, historic preservation, journalism, and publishing to name just a few.

If your interests are in archaeology, some of the best opportunities are in the areas of cultural resource management or "contract archaeology" either with private firms or the federal government. Some of our undergraduate majors have taken internships with local firms engaged in this work (like Wendy Lopez and Associates) and land jobs after graduation. Of most importance in preparing for this kind of work is our archaeological field school (ANTH 5381, 5382, or 5681). If the opportunity arises, you can also ask a faculty member to take you out into the field with him/her during one summer.

If your interests are in cultural anthropology, opportunities abound. In fact, a few years ago USA Today ran a story with the headline "Anthropology Major is Hot Asset." The story noted the usefulness of anthropology in the area of marketing because anthropologists understand human needs, the cultural basis of social problems, and cross-cultural diversity. According to Marty Nemko, Motorola's pagers come in different colors because an anthropologist found teenagers use pagers as fashion accessories; and Canon, after sending an anthropologist into people's homes and recording what was on families' refrigerator doors and bedroom walls, began to bundle greeting card software with its printers. Students with training in cultural anthropology land jobs with social service agencies, with state and local government, with companies that engage in international business, with federal and international agencies such as NIH, US-AID, WHO, or the World Bank, and in museums. As you earn your degree you might want to continue studying a foreign language and acquire solid research skills (take a methods course such as ANTH 5344 and SOC 4311 and get some basic statistics STAT 2331). But most important, learn how to write well, to think critically about various issues, and to hone your people skills.

The Anthropology Department at SMU prepares undergraduate students to meet the increasing demand for a scientifically trained and globally minded workforce. Students study human behavior and societies by adopting a cross-cultural perspective regarding the customs, cultures, languages, and social lives of different peoples around the world. Human populations of the prehistoric past, in places like Guatemala (Maya), Peru (Inca), and the American Southwest, are also studied. The study of the fossil record, forensics, and primates also provide clues about the origins and evolution of humans.

Anthropology Careers

  • Anthropology has been identified by USA TODAY as a "Hot Asset in Corporate America."
  • Cultural anthropologists are employed as diversity consultants and cultural analysts, identifying potential international markets or production locations.
  • The World Bank recently announced that it planned to hire more anthropologists because anthropologists are able to understand the needs of businesses in other countries.
  • Corporate anthropologists understand people's needs as industry adapts products to world cultures.
  • Applied anthropology is what anthropologists do to solve real world problems in international health, environmental protection, rural development, and poverty.
  • Archaeologists and cultural anthropologists work in the field of cultural resource management and cultural preservation.
  • Ethnographic methods increasingly are being applied in marketing, advertising, and commerce - e.g., Frito Lay North America is working with SMU anthropology faculty and students to learn how Americans actually shop in supermarkets.

For more information, please contact Tiffany Powell.