Social Science Careers

Comparing Descriptions, Educational Requirements and Salaries

••• An archaeologist examines an artifact. Siri Stafford / The Image Bank / Getty Images

The social sciences encompass the study of societies and the interactions of individuals within them. Here is a look at several social science careers. Compare and contrast them based on job descriptions, educational requirements and earnings. 


Anthropologists study the ways of life, languages, archaeological remains and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world.

If you want to work in this occupation you will need at least a master's degree in anthropology but if your goal is to teach in a college or university, a PhD is required. Anthropologists earned a median annual salary of $59,280 in 2014.


Archaeologists recover and examine evidence including tools, cave paintings, the ruins of buildings and pottery in order to learn about earlier civilizations. To get a job in most settings, you must first earn a master's degree in archaeology. If you want to join the faculty of a college or university you will have to get a PhD. Archaeologists earned a median annual salary of $59,280 in 2014.


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 PhD is required for those who want to teach in colleges and universities.

Opportunities for individuals with a bachelor's degree are limited to government jobs. Geographers earned a median annual salary of $76,420 in 2014.


There are several types of psychologists including clinical and counseling psychologists who diagnose and treat individuals' mental, emotional and behavioral disorders; school psychologists who address students' education-related issues and industrial-organizational psychologists who deal with work-related issues.

Clinical or counseling psychologists may need either a PhD in psychology or a PsyD degree (Doctorate in Psychology), or may be able to practice with just a master's degree. The requirements vary by state. If you want to work as a school psychologist you may be required to earn a master's degree, doctorate, educational specialist degree or a professional diploma in school psychology. For this job title, state requirements also differ. 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 earned a median annual salary of $68,900 in 2014. Industrial-organizational psychologists' median annual salary was $76,950.

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers design or conduct surveys about people and their opinions. If you want to work in this field you will almost certainly need to earn a master's or doctorate degree. Your degree can be in marketing research, survey methods, statistics, social sciences, or a related subject. There are some entry level jobs that require a bachelor's degree. Survey researchers earned a median annual salary of $49,760 in 2014.

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. Urban and regional planners earned a median annual salary of $66,940 in 2014.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, on the Internet at and
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, on the Internet at (visited July 2, 2015).

Comparing Social Science Careers
 Minimum EducationLicenseMedian Salary
Archaeologist Master'snone$59,280



Psychologist Master's, PhD or PsyD (varies by state and job title)required to deliver patient care$68,900 (clinical, counseling & school)/ $76,950 (industrial-organizational)
Survey ResearcherMaster's or PhDnone$49,760
Urban And Regional PlannerMaster'snone$66,940


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