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Pursuing a Career in Sociology

At the most basic level, sociology is the study of human social behavior. This includes how people interact, why they make certain decisions and why some groups behave differently than others. Since everyone is part of a group of some kind and interacts with others, this is a fascinating subject that a many people find interesting.

Quick Facts: Sociology Industry
Median Pay:   $74,220 per year | $36 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Master's degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   37,000

Sociology Occupations:

  • Sociologists$72,810
  • Social scientists and related workers, all other$75,630

While it is a common course for incoming freshman college students, only a small percentage of college graduates will opt to study this entirely and go on to work in the field.

If you are one of them, discover whether this career is right for you, what education is needed, what traits belong to the best sociologists, what kind of careers in sociology are available, average salaries and predicted job growth in the United States.

Characteristics of a Successful Sociologist

While anyone with the drive, dedication and desire to pursue this career can absolutely do so, many of the very best sociologists tend to have similar traits that make them perfect for this position. Communication skills are vital for sociologists, as they need to be able to conduct interviews with individuals and then compile written text that is easy to understand.

Sociologists are also expected to interact regularly with their peers, collaborate on projects and present ideas on a consistent basis, so they tend to be friendly and outgoing when necessary. In addition, many of the world's best sociologists are able to think critically, see data and analyze it and strategically solve problems with new ideas that may not be common theories in the field.

The Degree You Will Need to Earn

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overwhelming majority of sociologists in the United States have a minimum of a master's degree. This degree takes anywhere from one to two years to complete, and the prerequisites includes a four-year bachelor's degree. So before you seriously consider this as a career choice, be sure that you are willing to commit the time and effort to a minimum of five years of college study.

While there are a limited number of careers in the field open to those with bachelor's degrees, they are primarily entry-level positions and not as well-paid. For the very best jobs in the field, a doctorate degree may be in order. Earning a doctorate in sociology will allow you to pursue college teaching jobs, lecturing, and research positions that bring with them higher salaries, more respect and often greater day to day flexibility.

Curriculum for Studying Sociology in College

Whether you are earning a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, there are a few subjects that will show up on your curriculum if you opt to pursue this field of study.

While undergraduate degrees include some general education courses to round out your education, the staples of your syllabus will almost certainly include demography, social psychology, group behavior, sociological theory, political economics, specific issues in society, mass media, cultural revolutions and family's influence on behavior.

If these topics interest you right away, then sociology may just be a perfect fit for you at the college level and beyond. As you turn to master's degrees and even doctorates, you will have the opportunity to specialize in a particular part of the field that you are most passionate about.

Salary Outlook

There are a variety of different reasons that people choose their careers, but it is undeniable that salary has a big role to play in the final decision. The specific salaries of sociologists differ from city to city as well as based on factors like experience, education and work ethic, but there are averages that can paint a clearer picture. According to the BLS, sociologists in the United States earn median salaries of $74,960 each year.

Where You Can Work After You Graduate

One of the most interesting things about sociologists is that they are able to be employed in a variety of different industries. Many sociologists gravitate toward universities and colleges, and they may teach or decide to conduct research. While educational institutes are undoubtedly the biggest employers of sociologists, that is far from the only option out there for graduates.

Sociologists may be able to work as consultants for technology companies, with marketing and advertising firms and even with government agencies. Being able to help businesses understand human behavior is a valuable asset, and it is one that employers are willing to pay for.

Careers in the Field

Even if you are not ready to commit to an advanced degree, even a bachelor's degree can open new doors into great careers in sociology that you may not be aware of. Common professions in this field that don't necessarily require a master's degree include that of corrections officer, market researcher, social worker and research assistant.

Future Job Outlook for A Sociology Major              

Choosing a new career should be about more than just what will make you happy in the next three or five years. Looking ahead is one of the keys to success, regardless of what field of study you pursue. Growth in this field looks to be impressive, with a more than 15 percent leap in the number of new hires between now and 2022. Learn how you can earn your degree online to prepare for a successful career in sociology.