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8 Jobs that Require a Sociology Degree

A man holding a sociology diploma in his hands.

A sociologist’s work involves studying social behavior and society. They study various levels of humanity, with emphasis on human’s response to change and political systems. Sociologists gather data using a variety of methods, including qualitative, quantitative, and comparative research.

To become a sociologist, you usually need at least a Master’s degree, but some employers require a doctoral degree. Both degrees take about three to five years each to complete.

The median salary for sociologists is $86,110. Entry-level sociologists earn around $52,640 while those with the most experience earn around $143,020 per year.

There are traditional Master’s degree programs and programs that are clinical, applied, and professional. Those who use a traditional program are preparing to go into a Ph.D. program. If you opt for the latter, you can go into the workplace since they teach you the analytical skills that you need to do sociological research.

Sociologists work all throughout the world, usually in an office setting or on location doing research and interviews. The majority work in research and development, while the rest often find jobs in state government and educational settings.

While not always necessary, getting experience via an internship can be beneficial. You can often find internships and similar ways to gain experience as you pursue your graduate degree.

The common job duties of a sociologist include:

  • Testing social issue theories by designing research projects
  • Analyzing data to draw conclusions
  • Using a variety of sources, such as observations, surveys and interviews to collect data
  • Detailing your research findings by preparing articles, presentations and reports

Human Resources Specialist

A panel of human resources specialists interviewing an applicant.

Human resources specialists work to screen, place, recruit and interview workers for companies of all sizes. They are also responsible for taking care of employee compensation, benefits, relations, and training. This professional may also help with things like creating handbooks for employees.

Having at least a bachelor’s degree is usually required for jobs in this field. On average, it takes four years to complete this degree. You can also opt to gain voluntary certification to specialize in a specific area of human resources.

The median pay for these professionals is $63,490. Entry-level HR specialists earn around $37,710 while those with the most experience can earn upwards of $109,350 per year.

Some employers, especially those who employ HR generalists, might want to see some previous experience in a related field. Examples include customer service and previous human resources positions.

You can work for a wide variety of companies throughout the world as an HR specialist. The most common industries include scientific, technical, and professional services, manufacturing, healthcare, government, and employment services.

Like a sociologist, HR specialists need to understand people and how they behave. However, unlike sociologists, they are not performing research on this, but simply working to aid people and corporations in achieving their goals.

Social Worker

A social worker visiting a senior citizen in her home.

Social workers help people to cope with and solve a variety of problems. For example, they may work in a hospital to help patients with paying for services or arranging something like long-term care. There are also social workers that deal with family dynamics and the issues that can arise.

Most social workers spend four years in college to obtain their bachelor’s degrees. However, if you want to become a clinical social worker, you will need to obtain three to five more years of education to get your Master’s degree and state licensure.

The median yearly salary for social workers is $51,760. Entry-level social workers earn about $33,020 while those with the most experience can earn as much as $85,820 per year.

In addition to your education, having some experience working with people, such as customer service, can be helpful. If you want to become a clinical social worker, you must complete two years of supervised training after you finish your graduate degree to get your license.

All cities and counties employ social workers in a variety of industries. You can find job opportunities in local government, family and individual services, state government, education, and healthcare.

While you are not performing research, you do need to understand basic human needs and interactions to be successful as a social worker. For many aspects of your job, you will rely on sociological research to effectively serve your clients.

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists maintain and develop a good image for individuals and organizations. You also create statements and press releases for the media, ensuring that your clients are effectively communicating with the public, and arrange interviews to help your client make themselves known.

A bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years to complete, is needed for entry-level positions. However, some employers also want to see internships in public relations or a portfolio that shows what you are capable of before hiring you.

The median salary for PR specialists is $62,810 per year. Entry-level jobs earn an average of $35,350 while professionals with more experience can earn upwards of $118,210 per year.

Previous experience with speaking, writing, and communicating can be very helpful for aspiring PR specialists. Because of this, tackling some freelance writing or getting some experience in customer service can benefit you before you hit the job market.

PR specialists are needed all throughout the world. If you want to work for individuals, you should consider areas that have a large number of people in power, such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, or New York City. Should you prefer the corporate route, bigger cities are generally the best option since they tend to have a larger concentration of major corporations.

You are using common sociological standards to understand how people interact with each other and society as a public relations specialist. The research performed by sociologists is an integral part of your job.

Policy Analyst

Policy analysts research complex problems so that they can identify and suggest solutions. The research that they complete is used to influence a wide variety of social and political decisions. Depending on where they work, they might also explore current policies and decisions to determine where improvements can be made.

Most policy analysts start their careers after completing a four-year bachelor’s degree. Those who wish to expand their career might consider dedicating another three to five years to obtain their Master’s degree. Internships are also ideal as the available positions tend to have a lot of competition.

Entry-level analysts not working for the government earn about $31,740 per year while government analysts may start out as high as $93,000. On the upper end, jobs in this field can pay upwards of $145,000 per year.

Being an expert on certain topics can help you when you are searching for a job. While you are in school, it is a good idea to do some volunteer work with a student organization that is focused on public policy topics to gain some experience.

If you want to work for the government, Washington DC is the best place to start looking for a job. However, if you want to go the corporate route, any major city will have companies looking for policy analysts.

As you pursue your career, you will explore how various policies affect the people you are serving. Research from sociologists will be important to ensure that you are making the most beneficial decisions.


A criminologist putting on gloves.

A criminologist uses a combination of law enforcement and sociology concepts to perform their job. They utilize predictive data to understand areas where crimes are likely to occur. This professional might also analyze past crimes to try and determine the cause and if any warning signs were present.

A four-year bachelor’s degree is a common requirement to get started in this field. However, some employers require at least a Master’s degree which can take an additional three to five years to complete.

On the lower end, criminologists earn about $53,650 per year. However, there is the potential to make as much as $112,640 as a criminologist.

It is a good idea to do an internship to gain some hands-on experience in the field before applying for jobs. You might also need to pass a licensure examination before you start working, depending on your state.

Major metropolitan areas are the best choice when you are looking for work as a criminologist. You can seek out employment opportunities with law enforcement agencies, the government, or research firms.

Human behavior is the cornerstone of criminology, but you are relying on research that has already been conducted to understand it. You may work with sociologists to do your job effectively, but you are not doing the actual sociological research.


A professor discussing formulas and equations.

As a professor, you work to educate college and university students. With teaching, you will use a predetermined curriculum, but as you gain experience, you might be asked to work on developing the curriculum as well. Depending on where you work, you might also take part in research related to sociology.

You typically need a doctoral degree to work as a professor. After completing your bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree, you can expect an additional four to eight years of schooling to obtain your doctoral degree in sociology or a related field.

The median pay for professors is $80,790 per year. Entry-level professors earn an average of $40,960 while those with the most experience could earn up to $180,360 per year.

Working as a teaching assistant while pursuing your doctoral degree is a good way to gain some experience in this field. Some research and writing experience can also be beneficial.

Every college and university throughout the world needs professors. Consider the type of institution you want to work for and focus on the geographic areas that have the most of them.

You may or may not conduct sociological research as a professor in this field. Instead, you are teaching the discipline to those who aspire to become sociologists.

Management Consultant

A management consultant doing a presentation before the executives.

Management consultants help organizations to improve their efficiency. You also work to make plans, programs and procedures that organizations can use to put your recommendations into place. All of this helps to streamline organizations so that they are more profitable and have lower operating costs.

Entry-level positions generally require a four-year bachelor’s degree. However, some employers will want you to have at least a Master’s degree, and usually, an MBA takes two to five years to complete. You might also seek out certifications if you want to specialize, such as consulting with IT firms after getting your computer systems consulting certification.

The median income for this career is $87,660 per year. Entry-level management consultants earn an average of $50,990, while the most experienced consultants may earn upwards of $156,840 annually.

Companies and organizations throughout the world can benefit from management consultants. You can find work in multiple industries, such as insurance and finance, technical and scientific services, and government. Paying close attention to areas with a lot of start-up companies, such as Silicon Valley, can help you to find work with emerging companies.

To develop the right programs and plans, you have to understand the behavior of the company, the industry that you are in, the people who work there, and the people who will patronize the business. You are not conducting actual sociological research to do this, but you are making observations.

Urban Planner

An urban planning team having a meeting.

An urban planner works to create land-use programs and plans to help accommodate population growth, develop communities and revitalize public facilities. They often work with developers and members of local governments to accomplish these tasks.

The first step in becoming an urban planner is to get your accredited Master’s degree in urban planning. However, you must first complete your bachelor’s degree in sociology or a related field. On average, it takes seven to eight years to complete all of the education requirements, and many employers like to see an internship or previous related experience on your resume.

The median salary for an urban planner is $75,950 annually. Entry-level professionals earn around $46,830, while those with more experience can earn as much as $118,280 per year.

Urban planners are needed all throughout the world, especially around communities that are building or seeing a population expansion. Common industries include federal and local governments, engineering or architectural firms, and consulting services.

To be a successful urban planner, you need to understand human behavior so that you can provide the right planning and amenities for the populations that you serve. However, you are usually not doing the research. Instead, you rely on the research that sociologists and similar professionals provide.