Salaries in Forensic Anthropology and Academic Anthropology

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Nicholas V. Passalacqua
Elaine Chu
Marin A. Pilloud


This project examined the salaries of forensic anthropologists in the United States. Additionally, the salaries of forensic anthropologists employed in academia were compared to those of other academic anthropologists. The goal of this project was to develop baseline data in terms of salaries for forensic anthropologists while also examining various factors that may affect forensic anthropology salaries. Salary information is important because salary transparency narrows wage disparities, reduces favoritism and discrimination, increases the bargaining power of employees, and potentially causes employers to focus more on salary differentiation in terms of productivity and seniority; essentially, wage transparency generates greater equity among employees (Estlund 2014).

In order to examine salaries in forensic anthropology, internet search engines were used to find open-access salary data for individuals currently listed as non-student members of the anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and/or the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. All variables were analyzed using random forest models.

Results found that in all models, there were no differences in salary between men and women. Further, no significant differences were found between anthropology subfields in academia. Importantly, years since terminal degree was the most important variable affecting salary in all models, with academic rank being the most important variable for individuals employed in the academic sector. Further, these results demonstrate inconsistencies in pay for forensic anthropologists, especially for those working in the applied sector.

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