What can you do with a degree in sociology?
Studying sociology, you focus on learning will be about society, the behavior of various groups and individuals, and the causes and effects of human behavior. Sociologists learn about these phenomena through studying different groups and their interactions. As modern civilization is quite complex, sociology covers a wide range of specific characteristics of society.
This primarily concerns the similarities and differences regarding social status, gender, race, as well as a number of phenomena specific to life in modern society. Therefore, there are no short or exclusive answers to the question What can you do with a degree in sociology? There are many answers to this question, primarily depending on your own ambitions and interests.
Why choose sociology as a major?
Acquiring a major in sociology brings a better understanding of humans and the social changes which are constant in the development of civilization. Department of sociology is recommended for students who would like to develop their social skills, make a positive difference in their environment and use the knowledge they have gained for building a successful future career.
Sociology research areas
Knowledge from the realm of sociology is also valuable when it comes to understanding other areas of study, such as law, psychology, and even art. Focusing on specific fields of sociology at university or college will help you prepare for a successful career.
- Race and ethnicity – studying the specific traits of different ethnic communities, and the consequences of their interaction.
- Relationships and family – researching human relationships at the emotional level, and their effect on society in general. This aspect also includes the study of the importance of family and its influence in the community.
- Political sociology – studying political systems and processes that stem from the relations between various associations, states and communities, locally and globally.
- Health and medicine – focusing on sociological elements that affect public health and the ways it can be advanced.
- Economic sociology – studying the effect of the economy on society, i.e., the ways in which finances and the exchange of goods affect the relations between individuals and communities, and the division based on financial status (the rich and the poor).
- Sociology of culture – understanding the specific traits of different cultures such as language, socially acceptable norms, and the values that determine the way of life in an environment.
Sociology covers practically all areas of modern society, and therefore constitutes the ideal choice for any student who would like to be successful at professions focusing on the understanding of the behavior of groups and individuals.
Types of sociology degrees
Depending on personal ambitions, one can acquire several types of degrees in sociology. This specialization depends upon the career path you have in mind, because certain walks of life, such as scientific research, require attending the PhD program in sociology. This is why the quality of higher education is so important.
- Certificate Programs in Sociology– these are usually short programs, up to one year, covering the basics of sociology. They usually serve as additional education for professionals from other areas.
- Associate Degree in Sociology – offers the basics complemented with other subjects that offer additional knowledge. This usually lasts for two years, with the possibility of expanding the studies to four-year bachelor studies.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology – four-year studies that cover the most important aspects of sociology, including various theories and methodologies. Some universities offer bachelor of arts (BA), where the focus is on research itself, as well as bachelor of science (BS), with more focus on the analysis of the collected data. This level of education will prepare you for master studies.
- Master’s Degree in Sociology – these are usually two-year studies where a great deal of attention is dedicated to more in-depth study of social phenomena based on sociological theories and research methods. There are two major types of sociology master’s degree: the applied, clinical, and professional programs, and the traditional programs. The former group will prepare you for a professional career so that you can start working immediately upon its completion, whereas the traditional program will prepare you for further education, i.e. the PhD program.
- Doctoral Degree in Sociology – if you are interested in clinical scientific research and/or a teaching position in higher education, you will need the title Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology.
If you want great career advice, it is primarily this: focus on hands-on learning and acquiring experience through practical work. There are many reasons why volunteer work and internships at companies are so important, especially for sociologists. Obviously, this way, the acquired knowledge will be applied in practice, which is quite valuable, as actual experience is required for a successful career.
What areas can one work in with a degree in sociology?
With sociology major as your choice, after your studies, you will have a number of options for career development. The acquired knowledge, combined with the chosen minor subjects and additional courses, will have prepared you for doing research for companies, as well as for working with individuals within the healthcare system.
In all cases, the focus is primarily on studying human behavior, communities, and the effect of different factors on them (legislation, emergency situations, technology, economic and political circumstances, etc.). Sociology graduates can work in the following areas:
Sociology in health
Professionals in this area focus on studying public health, sociological causes of illness and the influence of the healthcare system. The relationship between the public and the people’s health can be studied through analyzing the quality of life and the influence of medicine on the general population, as well as on specific groups. Studying factors such as access to treatment, life conditions, poverty, and access to food and medications leads to important insights that help advance the quality of human life.
Jobs in this area encompass social work, studying the effects of health care implementation, analyzing the quality of life of a population, and formulating proposals for its advancement. Many public and private healthcare institutions base their decisions on input from experts in sociology (e.g., introducing programs dedicated to educating the population on health care issues).
Legal and criminal justice system
For any state, the point of a legal and criminal justice system is not punishment, but prevention, which would reduce social problems and criminal activity. Sociology helps determine the influence of a way of life in a specific environment where crime rate is high.
Ensuring proper prevention through law enforcement requires studying specific communities and socioeconomic factors that lead to undesirable outcomes. Understanding these factors facilitates the work of public institutions such as the police and the courts, and other law and public service institutions.
Social change and public policy
If you would like to make a contribution to the advancement of life conditions in society (social welfare), consider a career in an organization or public institution that focuses on marginalized groups. There are a number of associations whose goal is to help improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities. Any action requires the gathering of information and evidence that will help realize the goal.
To be successful at this job, you need to possess communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills. In that case, you can make a meaningful contribution to activities such as raising the awareness on racial and gender equality, minority rights, etc.
Sociology in marketing
Sociology is an indispensable part of modern business, primarily when it comes to marketing. Practically any type of modern business requires defining a target group and studying at. The development of social networks has increased the need for studying people’s habits, which has led to the emergence of modern professions such as community manager, where writing and communication skills are among especially valued skills.
Comprehensive offline and online research leads to a better understanding of the market and better communication with potential customers. Typical jobs from this area include: public relations manager, copywriter, technical writer, marketing consultant, etc.
Sociology in education
Work in education primarily refers to the positions that help provide a better understanding of the school system and, thereby, facilitate the teaching. This is the job of a great number of professionals in charge of formulating education programs at public and private institutions. You can also choose to work at a school and contribute to the quality of education through direct communication with students.
Of course, if you would like to, you can become actively involved in the teaching process itself at a school or a higher education institution. The degree in sociology required for a teaching position is determined by the level of the educational institution where you would like to teach.
What jobs can you do with a sociology degree?
Sociology will help you to be successful at a number of jobs that require the understanding of human behavior, from studying the general population to studying the functioning of employees at a large company. Whether you choose to become a professional sociologist (and member of American Sociological Association) or use your degree in sociology as a meaningful background for another kind of career, opportunities for work the job market offers are numerous:
- PR manager
- Personal coordinator
- School counselor
- Market research analyst / Survey researcher
- Media professionals
- Social worker
- College professor
- Special educational needs coordinator
- Urban planner
- Population analyst
Obviously, a degree in sociology is an excellent foundation for a number of employment opportunities. Depending on area, median annual wage for sociologists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, can vary between $50,000 and over $140,000 per year.