As with the old proverb of the blind men deriving very different descriptions of an elephant by describing disparate parts of the whole, so it goes with the practice of anthropology. Yes, you will find practitioners in remote villages of the world, working with exotic, little-known peoples. They can also be found at ancient excavation sites, piecing together the past to understand the present.

But much more likely, you will find anthropological practitioners in hospitals and clinics, in board rooms and factory floors of Fortune 500 firms, throughout all levels of government, or managing small or large nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations.

And what are they doing in those places? The two most typical activities are research and management. You might find a practitioner studying how to make a factory safer or more efficient, how to make a playground more user friendly, or how to best serve patient needs in a health setting. Practitioners use a diverse and holistic tool kit in most settings, pulled from the most meaningful and relevant knowledge available across disciplines.

Browse This Section:

About Practice

Ethical Practice Guide

Best Practices




NAPA Toolkit

The Face of Anthropology - 10yrs Later

The 2019 American Anthropology Master's Career Survey


You can also gain a better sense of the range of work anthropologists do outside of academia by visiting the AAA “Profiles in Practice” webpage, which profiles the work of over a dozen anthropologists. You can also visit some great Prezi presentations prepared by practicing anthropologists that explore what they do:

Student Achievement

Case Studies

Related Organizations