No matter your specific field of study, an anthropology degree equips you to understand humans — how and why we act, what we value, and how we interact with the world. You may find it hard to pivot that knowledge into a career outside of academia, but in today’s increasingly connected world, anthropology is more important and marketable than ever.
One booming industry perfect for anthropologists is user experience research, or “UXR.” Let’s explore this field and how to use your anthropology degree to become a part of it.
What Is UX Anthropology?
UX anthropology isn’t quite a thing, even though it is searched for, a lot. But anthropologists working in UX is definitely a thing! In fact, it is becoming one of the hottest jobs for anthropologists given our research background.
So what is UX then, you may be asking? As Facebook says… it’s complicated.
There are too many definitions to count at this point, but we like to think of UX as the total experience a human has with any product, service, or brand. We prefer to think beyond just products because products are only one part of our interaction with entities such as businesses or governments.
To understand these experiences, we leverage our anthropological toolkit, especially design anthropology to study humans in context, and then work with other stakeholders in business such as UX designers and product managers to innovate.
Why is Anthropology Good For UX Design And Vice Versa?
As an anthropologist, you’re well-versed in collecting and synthesizing qualitative and quantitative data. You go beyond the “what’s” of research and into the “why’s.” Technology program graduates often do not have this in-depth experience with systems thinking from a human perspective. According to a Financial Times article, tech giants like Intel and Xerox have included anthropologists on their teams for years, while Google and Facebook have recently scrambled to hire them.
This is good news for anthropologists, as an estimated 79% of doctorate-holders in the US do not obtain tenure-track positions according to a 2018 study. As tech companies recognize our strengths, anthropologists will find more enriching career opportunities as academic ones wane.
Transition From Anthropology to UX
Working with technology may seem daunting if that wasn’t in your field of study. Fortunately, the career coaching service Anthro to UX helps you discover careers with your anthropology degree through:
And if you want to learn more about your potential career from fellow anthropologists that have already made the jump, give the Anthro to UX Podcast a listen.