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Is it hard to get a job as a forensic anthropologist?

by tom44 on September 6, 2013

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Question by Miyuki Raiden: Is it hard to get a job as a forensic anthropologist?
Is it really as hard as people say? I have always wanted to become a forensic anthropologist but I’ve herd that it’s nearly impossible to get a full time job in forensic anthropology. I have no desire to be a collage professor and only take a few cases in my lifetime. I can’t think of what else I could do… Can someone help me?

Best answer:

Answer by Path Less Travelled
On one count, you might think the answer is yes — it ‘is’ hard — maybe…maybe not. You have to find out from those who know, who work in this field.

On a second count, jobs are hard to get and hold onto today anyway.

Third, exotic types of jobs such as your chosen field are difficult to snag because, well, it is such an interesting field and few are there once getting in willingly bail out. They have high retention rates, even if they do not pay high wages. The interest and passion trumps the salary potential.

It is one of those adventuresome types of fields and is comparatively rare to be had except in field research jobs and in varied Forensics and Anthropology laboratories. For example, it is not one of the high-demand jobs as is, say, Biotechnology or Molecular Biology or Genetics.

For such jobs as this one, which are subject to become saturated quickly, you may want to change your outlook of only taking a few cases in your lifetime: these are jobs for which you will want to stay in the queue, especially given that bio-engineers are developing new technologies all the time that facilitate work in Anthropology, and in which anthropologists are able to make discoveries as never before.

I am convinced that the limitations or anxieties you are confronting will diminish, however, as these varied fields increasingly merge their respective disciplines.

What you might want to do is your own personal inquiries about this by visiting universities’ Anthropology departments, natural museums’ laboratories, and law-enforcement agencies’ laboratories. Talk to the students or professors or employees in these facilities and ask them directly the chances of your getting into this field and how to. It is a most interesting field.

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2 thoughts on “Is it hard to get a job as a forensic anthropologist?

  1. Carol says:

    Yep. Very difficult. There is not that great a need for their services to justify a lot of full time positions. In the US, the FBI and the military are about it for full time Forensic Anthropologists. Most of the rest are college professors (like Bill Bass in Tennessee and Kathy Reichs in North Carolina) and museum curators (like Douglas Ubelaker and Doug Owsley at the Smithsonian). Reichs doesn’t teach anymore as she can support herself from the books she rights (the series the show Bones is based off of), but she draws on years of experience for her source which she obtained while she was a professor for her day job. According to Wikipedia’s article on Reichs, she is one of only 82 certified Forensic Anthropologist by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Why don’t you start with them as a resource:

  2. Shawn says:

    My understanding is that there are only about 100 forensic anthropologists working in the entire United States.

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