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The Average Salary for Being an Anthropologist

Anthropologists are social scientists that research and write about the origin, development and behaviour of the human race. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a federal department that is an authority on U.S. career data, separates different types of social scientists when calculating salaries, but groups anthropologists and archaeologists together.

According to the BLS, there were 5,230 anthropologists and archaeologists working in the United States as of May 2008. Earnings are dependent on factors like work experience and industry.

Average Annual Salary

According to a May 2008 BLS report, the mean annual wage for anthropologists and archaeologists in the United States was £37,245. Median earnings were £35,041, and the middle 50 per cent of the occupations brought home between £25,480 and £46,137.

The 10 per cent of U.S. anthropologists and archaeologists who earned the lowest salaries made less than £20,897. The top-earning 10th made more than £58,168 annually. A May 2010 salary survey by places the median 50 per cent salary range for anthropologists in particular at £20,169 through £50,993.

Average Hourly Wage

The mean annual salary for anthropologists and archaeologists broke down to a mean hourly wage of £17.9, according to the May 2008 BLS report. The median hourly earnings for the occupation were £16.80.

The middle half of anthropologists and archaeologists working in the country earned between £12.20 and £22.10 hourly.

The 10th of anthropologists and archaeologists who earned the top salaries brought home upward of £27.90. Those in the lowest 10 per cent range made less than £10.0.

Work Experience

As in most professions, the earnings of an anthropologist tend to increase along with work experience. According to a May 2010 salary survey by, the median expected annual salary range for an anthropologist with between one and four years of work experience is £19,704 through £32,500.

That salary range increases to £31,935 through £53,628 for anthropologists with between five and nine years of work experience. Those with between 10 and 19 years of work experience can expect to earn between £35,750 and £71,500.


Industry can also have a significant impact on the earnings of anthropologists. According to a May 2008 BLS report, out of the four U.S. industries with the highest levels of employment of anthropologists, the federal executive branch pays out the highest mean annual salaries.

Anthropologists in that industry earn a mean annual wage of £44,187.

Those in what the BLS classifies as the “architectural, engineering and related services industry” earn £42,965, while those working in scientific research and development make £34,723.

On the low end of the earnings spectrum are anthropologists in the “management, scientific, and technical consulting services” industry. They earn a mean annual wage of £32,487.

Employment Outlook

Job prospects for social scientists are expected to be promising through the next decade, according to the BLS. There will be many will be new openings as a result of retirees leaving the profession.

The BLS expects employment growth for anthropologists and archaeologists in particular will be at a rate of 28 per cent through 2018, a rate that is much faster than the national average for all occupations. Job opportunities likely will be best for anthropologists and archaeologists at management, scientific and technical consulting firms, according to the BLS.