The salary in forensic anthropology

Written by shane hall
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The salary in forensic anthropology
Forensic anthropologists specialise in analysis of human skeletal remains. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Forensic anthropology is a highly specialised field that applies anthropological methods to the law. Forensic anthropologists specialise in analysing skeletal remains to identify the missing or deceased. Few anthropologists perform forensic work full-time, making it difficult to determine the average salary for this field. Limited salary information suggests, however, that forensic anthropologists' earnings are similar to those of full-time academic anthropologists in colleges and universities.

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Average Salary for Anthropologists

Anthropologists received an average annual salary of £37,726 in 2009, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries for anthropologists ranged from £20,351 to £58,136 per year. Leading employers of anthropologists, including forensic specialists, included scientific research and consulting services, colleges and universities, and the federal government, which offered the highest salaries. The bureau reported that anthropologists employed by federal agencies earned an average of £46,761 a year.


In a 2009 article on careers in forensics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the earnings of forensic specialists most likely compare favourably to those of workers in the specialists' broader occupation. This means forensic anthropologists' salaries would likely mirror the salaries of other anthropologists. In addition, many forensic experts work full-time in their regular profession, performing forensic work on a part-time or consulting basis as legal cases requiring their expertise arise.

Salaries in Academia

Many forensic anthropologists, such as Dr. Arlene Midori Albert of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, work full-time as college or university professors, teaching classes and conducting skeletal research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that college and university anthropologists' salaries averaged £52,026 a year in 2009. Salaries ranged from £26,858 for the bottom 10 per cent to £83,648 for the top 10 per cent.

Full-Time Forensic Work

Full-time work in forensic anthropology is the exception rather than the norm, according to Dr. Albert. However, the few full-time forensic anthropologists mostly work for pathologists' offices, state or federal agencies, or for the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. Anthropologists at the Hawaii laboratory are civilian employees of the U.S. Department of the Navy, conducting research and testing to identify skeletal remains from military-related sites. Salaries for forensic anthropologists at the Central Identification Laboratory range from £27,700 to £63,422, the Navy reported.


Earning the salary of a forensic anthropologist requires a Ph.D. in anthropology, emphasising physical anthropology, biology and anatomy. Completing a Ph.D. can require five to eight years of study beyond a bachelor's degree, according to Dr. Albert.

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