Forensic Anthropologist

Job Description:

A Forensic Anthropologist analyses human skeletal remains to provide insights into the identity, age, sex, and cause of death for legal and investigative purposes.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

As a forensic anthropologist, you will be:

  • Examining human skeletal remains to determine age, sex, ancestry, and any signs of trauma or disease
  • Using skeletal features to help identify unknown individuals, especially in cases of mass disasters or missing persons
  • Assessing post-mortem interval by analysing skeletal changes and decomposition stages
  • Identifying injuries, fractures, and other trauma to aid in understanding the cause of death
  • Preparing detailed reports for legal documentation and collaborating with law enforcement and medical examiners
  • Providing expert testimony in legal proceedings to explain findings and interpretations
  • Assisting in identifying victims of large-scale accidents, natural disasters, or conflicts
  • Conducting research to advance forensic anthropology knowledge and teaching at universities
  • Working with forensic pathologists, law enforcement, DNA analysts, and other experts
  • Maintaining accurate records of examinations and findings for future reference


You will need:

  • knowledge in anatomy, osteology, biology, anthropology
  • knowledge of forensic principles, methods, and legal procedures
  • understanding of legal requirements for handling evidence and providing expert testimony
  • knowledge in skeletal pathology and time since death estimation
  • knowledge of crime scene protocols and anthropological techniques
  • expertise in archaeological methods and DNA analysis (optional)

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a forensic anthropologist, a strong educational foundation is important. While specific requirements can vary, the following GCSE subjects are generally beneficial:

  1. Science: Develops critical thinking skills and foundational knowledge for biological and skeletal analysis.
  2. Mathematics: Enhances analytical and quantitative abilities needed for data interpretation.
  3. English: Sharpens communication skills for writing reports and presenting findings.
  4. Biology: Provides fundamental knowledge of human anatomy and biological processes.
  5. Chemistry (Optional but Beneficial): Understanding chemical processes can be helpful in analysing decomposition.
  6. Physics (Optional but Beneficial): Familiarity with physical principles can aid in understanding trauma.

These subjects provide a solid base, but keep in mind that becoming a forensic anthropologist requires higher education, often in anthropology or a related field, followed by specialised training in forensic anthropology. Universities or colleges might consider your GCSE subjects alongside A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) when evaluating your application. It’s advisable to research specific requirements of institutions you’re interested in and seek guidance from academic advisors to tailor your educational path accordingly.

To become a forensic anthropologist, you need the following qualifications and requirements:


Start with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, biological sciences, or a related field.
Graduate Studies: Pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in forensic anthropology or a closely related discipline for specialised training.

Forensic Anthropology Training

Obtain specialised training in forensic anthropology techniques, including skeletal analysis and crime scene protocols.

Practical Experience

Gain hands-on experience through internships, fellowships, or fieldwork.

Certifications (Optional but Beneficial)

Consider certifications like Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (DABFA) to demonstrate expertise.

Working Hours and Environment:

Forensic anthropologists have variable working hours, with standard office hours for analysis and research, potential overtime for emergencies, crime scene visits that might extend beyond regular hours, outdoor fieldwork conditions, physical demands, safety protocols, and collaboration with forensic experts and law enforcement.

Career Path & Progression:

The typical forensic anthropologist career path involves education, graduate studies, entry-level roles, progression to independent analysis, potential specialisation, senior roles, optional consultation or teaching, research contributions, supervisory positions, academic roles, and optional retirement with consulting services, all with a commitment to continuous learning and expertise development.