Cultural Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology graduates understand how culture shapes our lives and our social, economic and political structures.

Cultural Anthropology students analyse the relationships and changes, similarities and differences of various groups of people in the world. They use theoretical frameworks and ethnographic and qualitative research to explore a wide range of cultures: modern or ancient, indigenous and migrant, rural or urban. Increasingly anthropological research is being used to understand corporate culture and structures.

Roles and career pathways

Cultural Anthropology graduates may work as academic advisors, policy analysts and researchers, community workers and coordinators, communications advisors, project coordinators, training facilitators, organisational development advisers, business or service designers.

Cultural Anthropology graduates with undergraduate degrees or seeking a first role may work initially in administration or coordination, or junior adviser or analyst roles before progressing to more senior roles.

For careers in policy and research some study at postgraduate level can be valuable. Complementary study in commerce, law or social sciences can help broaden employment options. Anthropology graduates who complete a secondary school teaching qualification can become social studies teachers. To become a practicing cultural anthropologist, a PHD and overseas work experience is required.

Where Cultural Anthropology graduates work

Cultural Anthropology graduates may work for government or not-for-profit organisations and in policy, health, and communications sectors where their analytical, qualitative research and writing skills are relevant. The ‘ethnographic study’ approach is the core of user centred design which is common in business, media and technology so graduates also may work in these areas. Human resources roles also attract Cultural Anthropology graduates where their understanding of cultural and structures is beneficial.

Cultural Anthropology graduates have worked in organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experience

Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. Volunteering with non governmental organisations such as Red Cross, English Language Partners or Changemakers provide opportunities to develop relevant workplace skills.The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop leadership skills and practical work place experience. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience.

Make career connections

Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career opportunities. The Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa NZ (ASAANZ) is a professional association of social anthropologists in New Zealand, and has a yearly conference and reduced student membership rates. Networking associations such as the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Wellington Young Professionals offer various events and opportunities for networking. The Victoria University of Wellington Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.