Medical anthropologists specialize in understanding social and cultural influences on human health, as well as on the development and treatment of diseases. The majority of specialists in this branch of anthropology work in an academic setting, teaching college and university courses in anthropology and conducting research on how social and cultural factors affect human well-being. Because most medical anthropologists work in academia, their salaries are consistent with those of other college and university anthropologists.
The magazine Unique Opportunities reported in 2003 that most medical anthropologists in tenure-track university faculty positions earned an average of $50,000 to $56,000 a year. Professors who achieve tenured positions earn more, with their annual salaries averaging $60,000 to $75,000. The magazine reported that tenured medical anthropologists may receive research stipends ranging from $4,000 to $20,000 a year, depending on the volume of papers, journal articles and other work they produce. Anthropologists who receive research grants may receive lower research stipends from the universities that employ them.
Senior-level medical anthropologists may be promoted to administrative positions within the university hierarchy, such as anthropology department head, professor emeritus or dean. These positions pay salaries exceeding $100,000 a year, according to Unique Opportunities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that college and university anthropology professors, including those who specialize in medical anthropology, earned an average annual salary of $80,040 in 2009. The agency reported that salary levels ranged from $41,320 a year for the bottom 10 percent to $128,690 a year for the highest-paid 10 percent. The median salary was $73,600 in 2009.
Academia is not the sole employer of medical anthropologists. Unique Opportunities reported that medical anthropologists also find job opportunities in exploration groups and nonprofit institutions such as the National Geographic Society and the World Health Organization. Salaries vary across employers and based on such factors as an anthropologist's education and experience. Becoming a medical anthropologist generally requires a doctorate in anthropology with a strong medical or health component. Unique Opportunities reported that some medical anthropologists also hold medical degrees.