The Average Salary of Forensic Anthropologists

Image by, courtesy of Sue Clark

Forensic anthropology is a specialised field, practitioners of which study human remains for legal purposes. Forensic anthropologists work around the globe to study or identify human remains, from teeth to full skeletons, ranging in age from millennia to mere days.


Ales Hrdlicka, an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institution in the early 20th century, is considered the father of physical anthropology. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has worked with anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution since the 1940s, and the American Board of Forensic Anthropologists was incorporated in 1977.

Famous Forensic Anthropologists

Famous forensic anthropologists include Ales Hrdlicka, Douglas Ubelaker, and Douglas Owsley. The field of forensic anthropology has recently been popularised by the television show "Bones," which debuted in 2005.

Becoming a Forensic Anthropologist

Most forensic anthropologists obtain a doctorate in anthropology and do extensive field research before they are called to testify in court as expert witnesses.

Career Opportunities

Forensic anthropologists tend to work for universities, museums, investigative bureaus or coroners' offices. They rarely do so full time--most also work as teachers and researchers, and consult as forensic anthropologists on the side.


Salaries of forensic anthropologists vary depending on the employer and the anthropologist's level of expertise. Most sources estimate the average salary as between £32,500 and £65,000. In 2008, the salaries of nearly all anthropology professors at the University of Virginia fell within this range.

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