Top Jobs for Sociology Degree Majors

Image by Melissa Ling © The Balance 2019 

If you're intrigued by how and why people interact with others as they do, then maybe sociology is the major for you. Sociology majors learn to think critically about social problems and social phenomena. 

The major is very broad. Everything in the social realm is open for study, including family, marriage, deviance, criminology, group interaction, gender roles, sexuality, work roles, public policy, aging, social inequality, attitude development, and much more.

Skills Sociology Majors Develop

Sociology majors learn to conduct research about the social world. They gather and analyze data using both qualitative research methods and statistical tools.

Students who major in sociology write reports to convey research findings and present their perspectives on social issues. They learn to think globally about issues and to attend to details. Sociology majors refine their presentation skills by sharing findings with faculty and peers. All of these kinds of assignments help students to develop strong communication skills.

Sociology majors are taught to identify problems that exist in the world around them. They apply problem-solving skills to these social dilemmas and exercise their creative abilities to find remedies. Sociology majors learn to take a position on an issue and to construct a rationale to support their perspective.

Once you graduate with a degree in sociology, there are a number of careers that will fit your skills and knowledge.

Read below for more information on the types of job that might be right for you, as well as a list of sociology skills.

Career Options for Sociology Majors

To choose the best possible career, you will need to consider your other skills, interests, and values alongside the sociology major. Here are some common job possibilities to explore as you think of ways to apply your sociology major to the work world.

1. Guidance Counselor

Guidance counselors use knowledge of the sociology of learning to help students navigate the academic world. They also communicate with families to devise strategies to support student achievement. Guidance counselors use interview and counseling techniques to help students make academic and career choices.

Guidance counselors use problem-solving skills to mediate conflicts and resolve social problems within schools. They facilitate group sessions and instruct students about social issues like bullying, substance abuse, and safe sex.

Salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for school and college counselors was $56,310 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $33,610, and the highest 10% earned more than $94,690.

Job Outlook: Employment of school and career counselors is projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

2. Human Resources (HR) Representative

HR representatives need to be effective and show finesse in their interactions with a broad range of individuals and groups. They must be able to analyze work roles and assess the suitability of candidates for jobs. Interviewing skills learned by sociology majors are essential for such evaluation.

HR staff members use problem-solving skills to mediate conflicts and resolve personnel issues. HR representatives use analytical and decision-making skills to evaluate alternative structures for employee benefits.

Salary: The BLS indicated that the average annual salary for human resources representatives was $60,880 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,270, and the highest 10% earned more than $104,390.

Job Outlook: Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 7% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

3. Lawyer

Lawyers use critical thinking and analytical skills to research and litigate their cases. Many areas of legal practice, such as divorce, child custody, adoption, criminal law, personal injury, worker compensation, and employment law benefit, are related to sociology.

Lawyers draw on research and writing skills to conduct their work. They must gather facts and evidence to support a thesis, just as sociology majors do with their position papers. Lawyers must present their findings in a compelling manner in order to convince a judge, jury or opposing attorney of their position. This is similar to presentations in sociology classes.

Salary: According to the BLS, lawyers earned an average annual income of $120,910 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $58,220, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000.

Job Outlook: Job opportunities for lawyers are expected to grow by 8% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

4. Management Consultant

Management consultants analyze business issues, research possible remedies or enhancements, and present solutions to clients. New college graduates often start out in positions like research analyst, research assistant, or junior consultant, where they support the work of more senior staff.

Sociology majors develop the qualitative and quantitative research skills to understand a business problem. Their problem-solving skills help them to generate viable solutions to these issues. Writing and public speaking skills are also critical when constructing reports and presenting analyses and solutions to clients.

Salary: The BLS estimated that the average annual income for management consultants was $83,610 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $48,360 and the highest 10% earned more than $152,760.

Job Outlook: Employment opportunities were projected to increase by 14% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

5. Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts test products and services and evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. They utilize social science research techniques, including interviews, surveys, and focus groups, to gather data. Market researchers employ statistical methods mastered by sociology majors to analyze data.

Market researchers often track preferences for specific consumer groups. The sociologist’s knowledge of gender, youth, aging, race, ethnicity, and social class helps to inform these assessments.

An understanding of group processes and advanced communication skills help sociology majors facilitate focus group interactions and conduct interviews with consumers.

Salary: According to the BLS, market research analysts earned an average of $63,120 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $34,310, and the highest 10% earned more than $121,080.

Job Outlook: Employment opportunities for market research analysts are expected to expand by 23% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than average.

6. Media Planner

Media planners assess the advertising needs of clients and design a media plan to enhance sales to various groups. Like sociology majors, they must be able to interpret research and analyze the preferences of their target population.

Media planners are aided by sociological knowledge as they study the characteristics of various groups in order to select the best possible media to advertise their product.

Salary: According to Payscale, media planners earn an average salary of $49,345. The bottom 10% earned $37,000 or less and the top 10% earned $63,000 or more.

7. Policy Analyst

Policy analysts research issues that affect the public. They recommend legislation to address those problems. Knowledge of sociology helps analysts to assess the impact of legislation on social problems and various populations.

Sociology majors have the foundation to analyze issues like welfare, poverty, substance abuse, job training, education, healthcare, and gay marriage. Policy analysts - like sociology majors - rely on strong writing skills to represent the findings of their research and convince legislators and the public of the viability of their recommendations.

Salary: According to Payscale, policy analysts earn an average of $57,025.

8. Public Relations (PR) Specialist

PR specialists need to be the ultimate communicators. As such, they must have the sociology major's ability to understand an audience and its attitudes, needs, and preferences. Writing skills are critical for crafting high-impact press releases.

Public relations staff must have the interpersonal skills to talk to the media and convince them to cover stories about their client or organization. They need to convey ideas clearly to staff and clients and engender support and consent for their ideas.

Salary: The BLS indicated in May 2018 that the average salary for public relations representatives was $60,000. The lowest 10% earned less than $33,690, and the highest 10% earned more than $112,310.

Job Outlook: Employment opportunities for public relations representatives are expected to grow by 9% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all jobs.

9. Social Worker

Social workers apply the knowledge of social dynamics and social institutions learned as a sociology major to assess client issues and help to resolve problems. They make referrals to appropriate community agencies to leverage resources on behalf of individuals and families.

Active listening and verbal communication skills are essential to assessing problems and advising clients about ways to improve their lives.

Salary: The BLS estimates that the average salary for social workers was $49,470 as of May 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $30,750, and the highest 10% earned more than $81,400.

Job Outlook: Opportunities for social workers are projected to grow by 16% from 2016 to 2026, a much faster rate than the average for all occupations.

10. Survey Researcher/Pollster

Survey researchers and pollsters measure attitudes and opinions in areas familiar to the sociology major, like social and political issues, health, culture, and consumer products. They carefully compose survey questions to elicit clear answers. Survey researchers use the data collection and statistical analysis techniques that sociology majors learn. They write and present reports to share their findings with clients.

Survey researchers use knowledge of groups and sub-cultures as they assess the opinions of targeted demographics. They must be curious about a social phenomenon in order to conduct background research about survey topics.

Salary: According to the BLS, the average annual salary for survey researchers in May 2018 was $57,770. The lowest 10% earned less than $29,620, and the highest 10% earned more than $103,400.

Job Outlook: Employment opportunities for survey researchers are expected to grow by 2% from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations.