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.

Duties & Tasks

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.


Applied Anthropologist

An 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

A 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

A 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

A 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.

Working Conditions

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.

Personal Requirements

  • 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.

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