Top Jobs for Sociology Degree Majors
If you are intrigued by how and why people interact as they do with others, 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.
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 jobs that might be right for you, as well as a list of sociology skills.
Given the wide range of topics covered in the discipline and the wide breadth of the knowledge and skills that sociology majors learn, there are many possible career options for them to pursue.
Career Options for Sociology Majors
To choose the best possible career, you will need to consider your other skills, interests, and values as well as 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 the achievement of their students. Guidance counselors utilize 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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for school and college counselors was $55,410 in 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,960. Employment of school and career counselors is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.
2. Human Resources (HR) Representative
HR representatives need to have finesse with people and interact effectively 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 this 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.
The BLS indicated that the average wage for human resources representatives was $60,350 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $103,570. Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
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 carry out 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.
According to the BLS, lawyers earned an average income of $119,250 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000. Job opportunities for lawyers are expected to grow by 8 percent 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.
The BLS estimated that the average annual income for management consultants was $82,450 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $152,210. Employment opportunities were projected to increase by 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than 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 process and advanced communication skills help sociology majors facilitate focus group interactions and conduct interviews with consumers.
According to the BLS, market research analysts earned an average of $63,230 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $122,770. Employment opportunities for market research analysts are expected to expand by 23 percent 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.
According to Payscale, media planners earn an average salary of $47,710.
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.
According to Payscale, policy analysts earn an average of $56,178.
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.
The BLS indicated in May 2017 that the average salary for public relations representatives was $59,300. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,260. Employment opportunities for public relations representatives are expected to grow by 9 percent 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 resolve problems. They make referrals to appropriate community agencies to leverage resources on behalf of individuals and families.
The BLS estimates that the average salary for social workers was $47,980 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,740. Opportunities for social workers are projected to grow by 16 percent 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.
According to the BLS, the average annual salary for survey researchers in May 2017 was $54,270. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,660. Employment opportunities for survey researchers are expected to grow by 2 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations.
Sociology Major Skills
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 perspective on social issues. They learn to think globally about issues as well as to attend to details. Sociology majors refine presentation skills by sharing findings with faculty and peers. All of these kinds of assignments help students 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 construct a rationale to support their perspective.
Sociology Major Skills List
Below is a list of skills most sociology majors develop over the course of their academic careers. When applying for a job, consider which skills on this list are important for the job. Highlight your experience with these skills in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Think of examples of times you demonstrated these skills in coursework, internships, and jobs.
Skills vary by job, so also review these skills lists for a variety of different occupations.
A - C
- Active listening
- Administering surveys and questionnaires
- Analyzing social problems
- Analyzing work roles
- Applying ethical standards to research
- Applying principles of group process
- Applying theories to real-world situations
- Appreciating individual differences
- Assessing demographic trends
- Coding data
- Communicating with diverse populations
- Comparing and contrasting methodological approaches to gathering data
- Conducting field observations
- Conducting interviews
- Constructing research models
- Constructing valid arguments
- Conveying sociological concepts
- Creating charts and graphs
- Critical thinking
D - I
- Detail orientation
- Developing public policy recommendations based on sociological trends and data
- Devising surveys regarding the social phenomenon
- Discerning recurring patterns
- Displaying knowledge of the impact of social institutions
- Evaluating the reliability and validity of research findings
- Explaining complex concepts
- Facilitating focus groups
- Facilitating group discussions
- Gathering information from multiple sources
- Identifying patterns of deviant behavior
- Identifying signs of conflict
- Identifying underlying assumptions in particular theoretical orientations or arguments
- Interpreting data
L - P
- Leading meetings
- Logical reasoning
- Managing stress
- Mediating disagreements
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Word
- Motivating others
- Note taking
- Performing descriptive statistical tests
- Performing multiple linear regression analyses
- Performing two-way correlations
- Persuasive communication
- Planning projects
- Predicting outcomes
- Producing bivariate tables with chi-square tests of significance
R - Z
- R (a Stat Package)
- Reading complex material
- Resolving conflicts
- Social perceptiveness
- Structuring focus groups
- Systematically observing a social phenomenon
- Testing hypotheses
- Time management
- Understanding an audience
- Understanding cultural differences
- Verbal communication
- Viewing issues from diverse angles
- Writing research proposals