The federal government is arguably the largest employer of anthropologists outside of academia. The most comprehensive data on numbers of anthropologists are from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. These data and their limitations are described. This chapter argues that applied and practicing anthropology are at historic employment levels, with at least five agencies having “institutional presence” of in-house anthropologists. Much of the growth is based on statutes enacted in the 1960s and 1970s, and solidified by anthropologists who codified their use around agency missions. Five agencies with institutional presence are highlighted, as examples of careers in the federal government. In addition the chapter describes careers and career paths in the federal government for a number of specialty areas including international development, both as a consultant and as a full-time permanent government employee, cultural resource management, the legislative branch, forensic and physical anthropology, natural resource management, and defense and security sectors, by using interviews and career cameos of senior anthropologists in those agencies. The chapter concludes with specific information on where to find vacancy announcements and how to respond to them; collective experience of lessons learned in seeking federal careers; and the author's views on the importance of engagement for anthropologists in policies, issues, and program management in the federal sector.
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