So, you just graduated with an anthropology degree and you don’t know what to do next. Or, maybe you’ve been working in another anthropology role for years and are looking to switch to a career in tech. Either way, user experience research might be for you.

The skills needed for product design research and development are incredibly similar to those you developed as an anthropologist. That’s why so many anthropologists are moving into tech research, especially user experience.

If you’re hoping to be a UX researcher, look no further. Read on to learn how you can transition from anthropology to UX.

Where’s the Overlap Between Anthropology and UX Research?

You may have never heard of UX research. That’s okay! There’s a lot of crossover between the research methods you learned in school or on the job.

The Nielsen Norman Group defines user experience as “all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” UX researchers perform user testing to draw conclusions about how customers go about these interactions.

Those conclusions then inform the UX design. This is where designers will apply what they’ve learned from the research to make the product or service easier to use, useful, and even delightful. That results in a more enjoyable experience for the customer, which is obviously good for business

Transferrable Skills

Anthropology is the study of humans, to put it simply. User experience research is the study of humans and their needs as it relates to using a product or service. Just by that token, it’s obvious that the two fields have quite a bit of overlap.

So what exactly can make an anthropologist a great UX researcher? There’s a ton of applicable skills you’re likely well-versed in as an anthropologist:

  • Ethnography and data collection
  • Communication skills and empathy
  • Knowledge of the behavioral sciences
  • Analysis of qualitative data
  • Asking insightful questions

These skills will serve you well both in user research and in interviewing processes. The ability to apply these skills is quite valuable in a UX research career, and employers are coming to value anthropologists more and more.

Transitioning into UX

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need to go back to school to become a UX researcher. In fact, much of the information you’ll need is right at your fingertips already.

From independent learning to creating a portfolio, to applying for jobs, the internet is your friend. Take advantage of blogs, podcasts, and free online courses to start your journey.

There are plenty of resources to become a self-taught UX researcher. With the help of sites like Anthro to UX, you’ll be on your way to a new career in no time.

Be a UX Researcher

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer: no, you don’t need a Ph.D. to be a UX researcher. If you’re fluent in the skills we discussed, you’re already well-positioned to delve into user research.

Still not sure how to make the switch? Check out our podcast, where you’ll learn how to prepare for an interview, build a portfolio, and hear the stories of anthropologists who broke into the UX field.