Intercultural Studies Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career in intercultural studies? Get real job descriptions and career and education requirements to see if a career in intercultural studies is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Intercultural Studies

A few career paths in intercultural studies include geographic mapping, anthropological research and academic teaching and research. Read on to see if one of these occupations could be the right fit for you.

Cultural Anthropologist Cultural Geographer Cultural Studies Professor
Career Overview Cultural anthropologists conduct research on different cultures to uncover the logic behind how societies function Cultural geographers study the relationships between societal factors and geographic locations Cultural studies professors teach postsecondary classes and conduct academic research
Education Requirements Master's degree or doctoral degree Bachelor's degree or master's degree Doctoral degree
Program Length Roughly 6 years for a master's degree, including the bachelor's degree; 8 or more years for a doctoral degree, including the bachelor's degree About 4 years for a bachelor's degree; usually 6 years for both degrees 8 or more years for a doctoral degree, including the bachelor's degree
Additional Training Fieldwork experience GIS training Teaching experience (can attain through assistantships)
Certification N/A GIS certification (optional) N/A
Job Outlook (2012-2022)* Faster-than-average growth of 19%; 1,400 additional jobs (all anthropologists and archaeologists) Much-faster-than-average growth of 29%; 500 additional jobs (all geographers) Faster-than-average growth of 16%; 1,900 additional jobs (cultural studies postsecondary teachers)
Mean Salary (2014)* Roughly $62,000 (all anthropologists and archaeologists) Roughly $76,000 (all geographers) Roughly $78,000 (cultural studies postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cultural Anthropologist

Cultural anthropologists plan research projects to test hypotheses concerning various cultures. Your research may involve developing data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews or observations, and analyzing collected data to prepare written reports or presentations. Cultural anthropologists spend time immersed in societies to study customs, values and societal patterns.

Though a relatively small occupation (in 2010, there were only 6,100 anthropologists and archaeologists employed in the U.S.), the demand for anthropologists is expected to grow by 19% over the coming years, based on the BLS' 2012-2022 projections. Multinational corporations are expected to drive growth in this profession as they seek to analyze global consumerism and labor markets. In 2012, 16% of anthropologists were employed by scientific research firms, while 21% were employed by the federal government.

Requirements

A master's degree in anthropology is generally required for research positions. For leadership roles on large research projects, you may need a doctoral degree. According to the Occupational Information Network (ONET), 57% of cultural anthropologists surveyed in 2010 earned a master's degree, while the remaining 43% held a doctoral degree. Many positions require extensive international travel as well as fluency or familiarity with a variety of foreign languages.

Here are some real job postings for anthropologists and/or archaeologists for cultural work projects, from December 2012:

  • An environmental resources agency in Alaska sought a cultural resource specialist to coordinate, carry out and analyze surveys for developmental projects involving tribal resources. Requirements included a master's degree in anthropology or a related field, regional experience, prior work in cultural resource management and knowledge of relevant environmental laws and policies.
  • An Oregon state government agency was looking for a cultural resource protection specialist to provide permit reviews and evaluations of potential impact to cultural resources from ground disturbing activity. Candidate must possess a graduate degree in anthropology, archaeology or a Native American studies field. Applicants must also have the status of 'Qualified Archaeologist' and 'Registered Professional Archaeologist' and be familiar with relevant laws, such as NAGPRA.
  • An environmental firm in New Mexico advertised for a cultural resources project manager to serve as the archaeology laboratory director, working with clients and government agencies. Fieldwork was required, though at a minimal level. Requirements included an advanced degree plus regional supervisory experience.

Standing Out

Since careers in cultural anthropology are often based on practical experience, obtaining the appropriate skills through your undergraduate and graduate anthropology programs is extremely important. Many programs offer the opportunity to gain practical experience through extensive field research or internships.

Cultural Geographer

Cultural geographers, sometimes referred to as human geographers, study people and places. You utilize geographic information systems (GIS) technology and use qualitative research methods to analyze population distribution as it relates to the ways in which humans interact with their physical environment; you may investigate the connections between geography and political beliefs, health issues or economics. Many of these professionals are employed by the federal government. The increasing need to study environmental sustainability should help lead to job growth for this relatively small occupation.

Requirements

A bachelor's degree in geography is often sufficient for entry-level geographer positions and jobs with the federal government. If you want to find work outside of the government, you're generally required to possess a master's degree; advanced research positions with high levels of responsibility may mandate a doctoral degree. Based on ONET's 2010 data, 48% of surveyed geographers received a master's degree, while 36% obtained a bachelor's degree. At the undergraduate or graduate level, GIS training is essential. Prospective geographers must also be willing to travel extensively for their research.

Here are some real job postings for cultural geographers from December 2012:

  • A government intelligence agency needed a geographer to work on foreign affairs mapping projects. The position was based in Washington, D.C., though foreign travel was required. Requirements included a bachelor's degree, GIS proficiency, cartography skills, knowledge of urban planning, foreign language abilities, appreciation for foreign cultures and communication skills.
  • A Washington, D.C., engineering firm sought a human terrain geography analyst for geospatial and sociocultural analysis. A geography degree, prior human terrain geography work and intelligence experience were required, and military experience was preferred.
  • A health and energy research organization advertised for a health geographic analyst to support its collection of demographic and health data from a nationwide representative population. Requirements included a master's degree in geography, demography, public health or a related field with 2-5 years of experience using GIS in health or population research. Foreign work experience and fluency in Spanish or French were preferred.

Standing Out

As many jobs in geography are highly dependent upon GIS technology, sufficient training and experience using it are essential. The GIS Certification Institute offers professional certification; you can qualify once you've achieved a commensurate level of education and experience in GIS, verifiable through college transcripts, supervisory references and recorded attendance at GIS conferences and seminars. Certification can give your resume a boost and demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

Cultural Studies Professor

Postsecondary teachers work within a college or university academic department, developing lessons plans, instructing students in a classroom or lab setting, giving feedback on academic performance and providing academic guidance. They facilitate student research and/or conduct their own research. Cultural studies topics that you could specialize in and teach include history, international relations, foreign languages, gender studies, Native American studies, African American studies and Latino studies, among a variety of other subjects.

As the number of postsecondary students continues to rise, the demand for professors should continue to increase, with the highest employment growth expected at for-profit schools. Job growth may be tempered somewhat by budgetary constraints at public colleges and universities, as well as an increasing emphasis on career/technical education over humanities education.

Requirements

Professors at the 4-year college or university level are generally required to possess a Ph.D. degree, while a master's degree may be sufficient for community college or junior college teaching positions. A career goal of doctoral degree-holding professors is earning tenureship, which often entails up to seven years of experience and a history of successful research endeavors and scholarly publications.

Here are some real job postings for cultural studies professors from December 2012:

  • A public university in Massachusetts was looking for part-time language teachers for its cultural studies department. Instructors were needed for introductory classes in Spanish, Italian, French, Hebrew, German, Japanese and Chinese. Requirements included a Ph.D. or All But Dissertation (ABD) distinction plus college-level teaching experience.
  • A public university in Virginia advertised for a teacher and research fellow for its Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. A Ph.D. and evidence of research skills were necessary to qualify for this position. Applicants needed to submit a research project proposal.
  • A private college in Minnesota sought an assistant professor of Spanish language and cultural studies; it was a tenure track job. Candidates were required to hold a Ph.D. or ABD, preferably as a cultural studies or gender/sexuality studies generalist. The job involved developing a new curriculum that incorporates community learning and social justice.

Standing Out

As a prospective college professor, you should not only seek an advanced degree in your chosen field of study, but also engage in research for publication. In addition, you should apply for teaching assistantships during your graduate studies to gain experience teaching undergraduate courses.

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Featured Schools

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Liberal Arts
  • Master of Arts in Museum Studies

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
  • Bachelor: Human Services/Child and Family Welfare
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies

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Northcentral University

  • PhD in Psychology - Gender Studies

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in English - History
  • Bachelor of Arts in History
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies

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Baker College Online

  • General Studies - Bachelor

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Liberal Studies
  • AA: Liberal Arts

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Concordia University Portland

  • Master of Science - Social Studies

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