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Wanted: Anthropology Majors

Liberal arts degrees often get a bad reputation because the number of job openings requiring the specific curriculum is relatively low. It can be hard to make a connection between some programs like music, art, or anthropology and occupations that are in high demand. Anthropology, in particular, is often high on the lists of worst college majors for a career.

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A new dataset added to JobsEQ’s Real-Time Intelligence (RTI) allows analysis of degrees listed as qualifications in online job postings. Among jobs posted online in the United States over the 180 days ending October 19, 2018, 2,821 ads were looking for anthropology graduates. Accounting for about 0.01% of all online job postings collected over this period, it’s not exactly a high demand program, but digging a little deeper reveals a particular skill that is increasingly in-demand.

It’s not surprising that archeologists tops the list of occupations with an anthropology degree as a qualification. But it might be surprising that nearly 200 ads for human factors engineers and ergonomists can be filled by anthropology graduates. With an estimated median wage from online ads of around $100,000 per year, this could be an appealing career path for anthropology graduates.[1]

 

The job description from O*NET provides a clue for why an anthropology degree could help human factors engineers and ergonomists perform their jobs: “Investigate and analyze characteristics of human behavior and performance as it relates to the use of technology.”

As revealed in the job titles from human factors engineers and ergonomists ads (shown below), employers seem to value the perspective anthropology majors bring to user experience research. Ads classified for computer user support specialists also tend to include user experience in the job title, providing another potential entryway from an anthropology degree to a high-tech career.

 

Anthropology and other liberal arts programs are often difficult to translate literally into the job market, but the ability to research human activity in relation to technology may find a new niche in developing online user experiences.

[1] Though to be clear, these positions typically have additional requirements, including technical skills and work experience.

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