Research the lives and cultures of various ethnic groups.
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Quick Stats


Salary Range
$31,000 – $89,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Ethnologists do?

As an Ethnologist, you study groups of people: how they think, what they value, how they organize themselves, and how they treat one another. The work that Ethnologists do can influence how we think about race, religion, technology, and language.

Your work as an Ethnologist can take you to faraway countries to live for months at a time with a group of people who are unaccustomed to dealing with outsiders. You ask them about their lives, attend their ceremonies, and watch them raise their children. You probably won’t have air conditioning.

You keep pages and pages of notes. Because your presence can change the people, you avoid sharing any information about yourself, though you may find this very hard to do.

You supplement your fieldwork by reading about the region where the people live. Referencing older works, such as reports written by other Ethnologists as well as old photographs, you anchor your findings and write articles or books about your research. You bore your friends by asking them to read early drafts of your work, but bribing them with brownies might make up for it.

You also spend a significant amount of time applying for grants so you can continue your research. You plead your case by talking about the people you’re studying, and how your research will help the public. You may attach snippets of other articles you’ve written.

On top of all that, you give lectures to Journalists, students, and Lawmakers about your research, outlining how the people function as a group. But you may also delve into sticky topics such as deforestation, urban sprawl, and the global economy, and how these factors impact previously isolated groups.

Should I be an Ethnologist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Ethnographer

    How to become an Ethnologist

    We recommend at least a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Ethnologist-related education!
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