Social Science Careers

Comparing Descriptions, Educational Requirements and Salaries

The social sciences encompass the scientific study of societies and the interactions of individuals within them. There are several careers that fall under the social sciences. You can compare and contrast them based on the following job descriptions, educational requirements, earnings, and job outlook. 

Anthropologist and Archaeologist

Anthropologists study the languages, ways of life, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world. They also examine archaeological remains. To work in this occupation, a master's degree in anthropology is the minimum requirement, but if your goal is to teach at a college or university, you will need a doctorate.

Archaeologists recover and examine evidence including tools, cave paintings, the ruins of buildings, and pottery to learn about earlier civilizations. To get a job in most settings, first earn a master's degree in archaeology. A Ph.D. is needed to join the faculty of a college or university.

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $62,280
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 1,500
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 7 percent (slower than the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 300

Geographer

Geographers study the land, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of a specific region or area of the earth. While a master's degree in geography will suffice for most jobs, a doctorate is mandatory for those who want to be on the faculty of colleges and universities. Opportunities for individuals with a bachelor's degree are limited to government jobs.

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $76,860
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 1,500
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 7 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 100

Psychologist

There are several types of psychologists.  Clinical and counseling psychologists, for example, diagnose and treat individuals' mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, while school psychologists address students' education-related issues. Industrial-organizational psychologists deal with work-related problems.

Clinical or counseling psychologists typically need a doctorate in psychology, but in some states, a master's may suffice. To be as a school psychologist, a master's degree, doctorate, educational specialist degree, or professional diploma in school psychology is needed depending on where one works. Industrial-organizational psychologists need at least a master's degree. All states require psychologists who deliver patient care to be licensed. 

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $75,090
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 147,500
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 14 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 21,000

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $87,100
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 1,700
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 8 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 100

Psychologists, all other

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $97,740
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 17,400
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 11 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 1,800

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers design or conduct surveys about people and their opinions. If you want to work in this field, earn a master's or doctorate in marketing research, survey methods, statistics, or social sciences. Some entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree.

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $54,270
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 14,600
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 2 percent (slower than the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 400

Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners, sometimes called city planners, help communities decide how to best use their land and resources with an eye toward future growth and revitalization. Employers usually prefer to hire planners who have a master's degrees in urban or regional planning from a program accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board, but some may be willing to hire a job candidate who has earned a master's degree in a related field like urban design or geography. Certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners can help with career advancement.

  • Median Annual Salary (2017): $71,490
  • Number of People Employed (2016): 36,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 13 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)
  • Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 4,600
Comparing Social Science Careers
Minimum Education License Median Salary
Anthropologist and Archaeologist Master's none $62,280

Geographer

Master's none $76,860
Psychologist Master's, PhD or PsyD (varies by state and job title) required to deliver patient care

$75,090 (clinical, counseling & school)/ $87,100 (industrial-organizational)/
$97,740 (all other)

Survey Researcher Master's or PhD none $54,270
Urban And Regional Planner Master's none $71,490

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online