The subjects of ethnologists are the circumstances of people and society; expression, artistry and the reality of everyday life. Ethnologists examine stories and legends, home and business practices, religion and music, customs and traditions, festivals and games, clothing and food traditions of people in the past and present.

As an ethnologist, you could work in many places, such as the media, tourism, archeology, academia, teaching or in connection with museums and cultural centers.

Main tasks
  • reviewing sources on people’s lives and their environment
  • researching communities and group formation
  • writing books, articles and essays based on sources and research
  • teaching at all school levels
Competence requirements

Ethnologists need to be interested in the past and its connection to the present. Patience, critical thinking and organizational skills are important qualities, as well as the ability to categorize information and prioritize according to importance. Knowledge of Icelandic traditions, culture and values is also desirable. Ethnologists work with a variety of sources, databases and relevant computer programs.


Undergraduate studies in ethnology for a BA degree are a three-year study program at the University of Iceland. Postgraduate studies for a master’s degree are also available.

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