Forensic Anthropologist

Analyze bones to determine a person's age, sex, and other details.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$31,000 – $89,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Anthropologists do?

On TV shows, Forensic Anthropologists work in labs. They’re always working on a case, sorting through bones to find out whose they are and how they died. At some point in the program, there’s usually a shootout, not to mention a long-drawn-out love story. As is often the case with TV, this, sadly, isn’t a completely accurate description of a Forensic Anthropologist’s career.

Forensic Anthropologists do help out on police cases, but these are few and far between. In order to be considered as an expert witness on a court case, you’ll need a PhD, which can take quite a bit of time and research. And that’s really how you spend most of your time: studying.

Forensic Anthropologists are mainly employed by universities. There, you work as a Professor, doing research on new topics, publishing papers, and helping undergrads. Through your research, you might strive to answer such questions as “How long does it take for a body to disintegrate?” or “What type of soil keeps insects away from a body?”

On a court case, the primary thing you do is identify bodies. Using different measurements as well as general knowledge about bones, you determine the sex, race, and age of a dead person through their skeleton or its parts. This is a highly specialized skill. Males and females have different-sized skeletons and different textures to their bones, along with other small differences. These small differences include pelvis width and thigh bone length. You know all these things, down to the smallest details, and you use this knowledge to put names to victims and figure out how they died so justice can be served.

Should I be a Forensic Anthropologist?

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.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • How to become a Forensic Anthropologist

    Most Forensic Anthropologists have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaaa9u&chl=||||master%27s+%2857%25%29|doctorate+%2843%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,57
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