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How to Become a Forensic Anthropologist

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Forensic anthropologists deduce information about people who've died by studying their skeletal remains. Using scientific methods, forensic anthropologists help police detectives solve mysteries and identify crime victims. The career requires a minimum of a master's degree in anthropology, and most forensic specialists have a Ph.D.

Meet Minimum Job Requirements

A master's degree in forensic anthropology takes approximately two years and qualifies you for non-academic jobs such as a staff anthropologist in a medical examiner's office or for a government agency. Not all universities award a major in the forensic specialty, but take classes in physical and biological anthropology, human anatomy, human osteology field methods and mortuary archaeology. Prepare for the job market by completing field projects or internships related to forensic studies.

Complete a Doctoral Degree

A Ph.D. in forensic archaeology will increase your career options because it's required for most academic and research jobs. A doctorate usually takes at least four years after the master's and includes coursework, comprehensive examinations, original research and a thesis. The field work is a major portion of your research and typically takes at least one to two years. Some programs also require internship experience, which can lead to a job after graduation. For example, internships are available with museums and with state and federal government agencies.

Find Employment and Achieve Certification

Related experience provides practical problem-solving skills that can help you in the job market. For example, complete an internship as a forensic anthropology assistant for a government law enforcement agency. Most forensic anthropologists work at universities and research institutions, where they spend their time teaching new anthropologists and conducting research; they do forensic consulting on the side, according to the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. You can also receive certification by meeting this board's rigorous requirements, which include submitting case files to document your experience and passing written and hands-on exams.

2016 Salary Information for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists earned a median annual salary of $63,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, anthropologists and archeologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $81,430, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 7,600 people were employed in the U.S. as anthropologists and archeologists.