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Sociology Careers

Career Description

Sociologists study human society and social behavior by examining the groups and social institutions that people form, as well as various social, religious,  political, and business organizations. May study the behavior and interaction of groups, trace their origin and growth, and analyze the influence of group activities on individual members.

Common Work Tasks

  • Study society and social behavior by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, and social institutions people form
  • Study the activities in which people participate, including social, religious, political, economic, and business organizations
  • Study the behavior of, and interaction among,  groups, organizations, institutions, and nations and how they react to phenomena such as the spread of technology, health epidemics, crime, and social movements
  • Trace the origin and growth of groups and interactions
  • Analyze how social influences affect different individuals
  • Use qualitative and quantitative techniques to analyze social patterns
  • Design research projects that use a variety of methods, including historical and comparative analysis
  • Aid educators, lawmakers, administrators, and others who are interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy
  • Work in one or more specialties, such as social organization, stratification, and mobility; racial and ethnic relations;  education; the family; social psychology; urban, rural, political, and comparative sociology; gender relations; demography; gerontology; criminology;  and sociological practice
  • Prepare publications and reports containing research findings

Other Job Titles

Sociologists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Social Scientists
  • Anthropologists
  • Political Scientists
  • Historians

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Graduates with master’s degrees in applied specialties usually are qualified for positions outside of colleges and universities, although requirements vary by field. A Ph.D. degree may be required for higher-level positions. Bachelor’s degree holders have limited opportunities and do not qualify for most of the occupations. A bachelor’s degree does, however, provide a suitable background for many different kinds of entry-level jobs in related occupations, such as research assistant, writer, management trainee, or market analyst.

Many sociology students also benefit from internships or field experience. Numerous local museums, historical societies, government agencies, non-profit and other organizations offer internships or volunteer research opportunities.

Sociologists need excellent written and oral communication skills to report research findings and to collaborate on research. Successful social scientists also need intellectual curiosity and creativity because they constantly seek new information about people, things, and ideas. The ability to think logically and methodically is also essential to analyze complicated issues, such as the relative merits of various forms of government. Objectivity, an open mind, and systematic work habits are important in all kinds of social science research.


The median annual salary for a Sociologist is $61,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $108,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $37,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of sociologists are:

  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $73,550
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $57,470
  • Local Government - $59,640
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $55,960

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  10%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 400
  • Employment 2006 : 3,700
  • Employment 2016:  4,100
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