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What Can You Do With A Sociology Degree? – Forbes Advisor


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If you’re considering a sociology major, you may have wondered, “What can I do with a sociology degree?”

This is a reasonable question—after all, sociology does not necessarily lead to one specific career path. Learners who are drawn to the social sciences and who want a flexible degree that can apply to diverse careers may enjoy a sociology major.

In this article, we explore what you can do with a sociology degree at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

What Is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of human social behavior, structures and change. An interdisciplinary field, sociology often overlaps with other social sciences such as psychology, anthropology, economics and political science. It can also intersect with specialized disciplines like urban studies, criminal justice and religious studies.

Drawing on classical and contemporary sociological theory and practices, sociology seeks to understand how societies work and how they can evolve to better serve all of their members. Sociologists use a variety of lenses to examine the structures and functions of social groups and institutions of all sizes, including families, neighborhoods, cities, ethnic groups and even the global population as a whole.

Sociology Areas of Study

Sociology degree-seekers can tailor their coursework to their career goals by pursuing one or more specialized areas of study. For example, a concentration in law and society could benefit aspiring lawyers, corrections officers and criminologists. A class, race and gender emphasis might prepare a prospective high school teacher to provide culturally relevant education to diverse student populations. Any specialization can lead to a sociology career like sociologist or sociology professor.

Below we explore some common specializations for sociology majors.

Environment and Society

A newer specialization within the field, environmental sociology focuses on the relationships between human societies and the natural environment. Environmental sociologists examine the social causes and effects of issues like pollution and climate change.

Social Data Research

Rigorous data analysis is crucial to all sociology subfields, and some professionals specialize in sociological data inquiry. Learners pursuing this concentration gain strong statistical analysis and fieldwork skills and explore how emerging technologies like machine learning are changing social data research.

Social Inequality: Class, Gender and Race

Societies often develop deep divisions and inequalities based on class, gender and race. This sociology specialty explores how social groups and institutions define, redefine, maintain and challenge these categories.

Sociology of Health, Medicine and Science

This specialization focuses on the roles of health, illness and medical science within societies. A health, medicine and science concentration can prepare learners to work in health-related social services roles, such as community health advocate, or to pursue further health-focused sociology research.

Sociology of Law/Law and Society

This concentration often incorporates coursework from a school’s political science and legal studies departments. Learners study how legal frameworks shape social structures and how laws reflect their societies. Topics of interest include social change, immigration and globalization.

Urban Sociology

Urban sociology applies sociological theory and methods to issues affecting populations in metropolitan areas. When combined with an advanced degree in urban studies, this concentration could lead to a career as an urban planner.

Careers for Bachelor’s in Sociology Graduates

Corrections Officer

Median Annual Salary: $47,920
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): -10%
Job Description: These professionals work in prisons and jails, where they supervise individuals who are awaiting trial or serving criminal sentences. Corrections officers’ responsibilities include maintaining security and hygiene, making daily reports and escorting inmates to court and medical appointments.

Corrections officers come from varying backgrounds. Not all professionals in this field need a college degree, but officers in federal prisons should have either one to three years of relevant work experience or a bachelor’s. Bachelor’s degrees in sociology are popular among those who pursue degrees.

High School Teacher

Median Annual Salary: $61,820
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +5%
Job Description: By educating adolescents, high school teachers can have a profound effect on society. During high school, learners absorb academic knowledge, gain life skills, build interpersonal relationships and prepare for their future careers. Teachers are integral to all of these processes.

Most high school teachers specialize in specific subject areas. A sociology bachelor’s can provide the foundation for a career teaching subjects like history and social studies.

Many schools require high school teachers to complete a master’s degree, typically in education. Public school teachers also need to obtain state licensure.

School Counselor

Median Annual Salary: $60,510
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +10%
Job Description: School counselors support academic and social learning at elementary, middle and high schools. Duties for these professionals vary depending on the needs and ages of their clients. These counselors may help learners develop study skills, deal with social issues and make college and career plans.

A bachelor’s in sociology can get you started in becoming a school counselor, but further education may be necessary. Most U.S. states require counselors at public schools to hold a master’s degree in school psychology or school counseling, along with state licensure.

Social or Community Service Manager

Median Annual Salary: $74,000
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +12%
Job Description: These professionals can work in the nonprofit sector, for government agencies or at for-profit social service organizations. Community service managers design, oversee and improve programs and services for the public good.

Social or community service managers may focus on children’s welfare, homelessness, hunger or veterans services. Duties for these professionals may include managing staff, writing grant proposals and assessing program effectiveness.

Aspiring social and community service managers can start their careers with just a bachelor’s degree. However, individuals typically need experience—often in a role like social worker—to qualify for a managerial position. Some employers prefer managerial candidates with a master’s degree in social work or a related field.

Careers for Master’s in Sociology Graduates

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder or Mental Health Counselor

Median Annual Salary: $48,520
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +22%
Job Description: Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors help individuals and groups deal with addiction, behavioral disorders and mental health challenges. These professionals meet with clients to provide support and help develop positive goals and skills. They also create treatment plans, refer clients to services and help educate families and communities.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors can specialize in areas like addiction and anger management. They can also focus on specific populations, such as adolescents, elders and families. Depending on their position, location and employer, some counselors may need a state license.

Human Resources Manager

Median Annual Salary: $126,230
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +7%
Job Description: Earning a sociology degree can give you insight into group dynamics and help you understand the needs and experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds. These qualities transfer well to the business world, and especially to human resources (HR).

A human resources department revolves around an organization’s personnel, and employers tend to prefer master’s-educated candidates for HR management positions. Human resources managers recruit, hire and train new staff. They also develop employee retention strategies and benefits plans, craft workplace policies and ensure equity and safety for workers.

Sociologist

Median Annual Salary: $92,910
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +5%
Job Description: If you’re wondering what to do with your sociology degree, a career as a sociologist is a natural choice. While professorships in sociology usually require a doctorate, you can qualify for some research positions in the field with just a master’s in sociology.

Outside of academia, sociologists typically work in research and development or for state governments. Sociologists’ research on social issues can support public policy change and administrative decisions across many economic sectors. Sociologists rely on strong data collection and analysis skills, informed by sociological theory, to devise and execute successful research projects.

Careers for Ph.D. in Sociology Graduates

Sociology Professor

Median Annual Salary: $77,980
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +8%
Job Description: Sociology professors teach courses related to their field and engage in research projects, often with student assistance. These professionals work at institutions of all types and sizes, from small community colleges to elite research universities.

Sociology professors must stay up to date on their areas of expertise by reading the latest analysis and theory, attending academic conferences and publishing their own work. They also hold administrative responsibilities, such as serving on departmental and school-wide committees, advising students, interviewing new hires and applying for research grants.



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