A Guide to Careers in Physical Anthropology

A Guide to Careers in Physical Anthropology

A Guide to Careers in Physical Anthropology

A Guide to Careers in Physical Anthropology


Most students of physical anthropology have aspired to a research/teaching position at a university. However, because of the decline in the academic job market, there has been an increased interest in alternative careers. This collection describes career paths that physical anthropologists have chosen within and outside the academy.


Alan S. Ryan

The field of physical or biological anthropology is intrinsically interesting and compelling. Students are drawn to the discipline because it sheds light on fundamental questions of interest to everyone. Answers to questions such as What makes us human?, How do we differ from other animals and from one another?, How did we evolve?, and What is the relationship between human biology and culture? provide clues to our understanding of human nature and the evolutionary history of our species since its origins.

Interest in physical anthropology has benefited greatly from increased attention from the media, from popular books, and from television series such as nova, National Geographic, and Discovery. in the media, the physical anthropologist is often portrayed as a pith-helmeted adventurer, tracking chimpanzees through the forest or discovering bones of our million-year-old ancestors. Although some physical anthropologists truly study chimpanzees and the fossils of human ancestors, many others consider different fascinating subjects. the diversity of topics investigated by physical anthropologists seems endless. Research interests include human and primate origins, primate societies, growth and development, genetics, osteology, human reproduction, forensic science, and nutrition, to name a few.

What pulls these different subjects together is that they share interest in the same subject—human beings. Physical anthropology is a sub-field of anthropology. Other sub-fields include cultural anthropology, anthropological archaeology, and linguistic anthropology. As a whole, anthropology has a wider scope than its sub-fields and encompasses almost everything

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