What Do Sociologists Do?
The main area of focus for sociologists is the study of human and social behavior. This is accomplished by taking a close look at the groups people form, including religious groups, political organizations, and even businesses. As a sociologist, you may study the behaviors and interactions of groups, from their beginnings and throughout their growth. You might form an analysis of those findings for research purposes or you might conduct your own study of how group relations affect individual behaviors. There is a strong trend of growth for these professionals. Data shows that a 15% increase is expected over a period of ten years. There’s a relatively small group of sociologist positions in the United States, so the increase could lead to just over 100 new job openings.
Sociologists Skills and Abilities
You will need a strong educational background to succeed in this field. That education should include knowledge of group behavior, societal trends, ethnicity, cultures, and histories. Although there may be differences in the types of abilities required of you in specific positions, you’ll probably be expected to have a strong background in the English language, mathematics, psychology, and research methods. Specific abilities that are valuable to professional sociologists include:
- Excellent reading comprehension
- Oral and written expression
- Oral and written comprehension
- Critical thinking
- The ability to draw conclusions from research
As in other job positions, the specific responsibilities that you’ll be expected to carry out can vary from one position to another. In general, you can plan to be responsible for analyzing data and creating documents or systems from the information. You’ll need to compile and categorize information; audit data; recognize patterns, differences, and similarities; and think creatively to develop new applications and relationships. Specific responsibilities might include:
- Advising others on policy matters
- Conducting research on social issues
- Designing educational treatment programs
- Instructing college students
- Planning research and preparing reports and presentations
- Supervising personnel
- Coordinating cross-disciplinary research programs
Sociologists Tools and Technology
You’ll use computers for much of your work, so familiarity with computers in many forms is a must for this position. You may need to share information between desktop and personal computers. Be prepared to use digital or video cameras, digital voice recorders, laser printers, and similar technology. Other software tools that you will use while on the job include a range of analytical and scientific software, charting software, and data base user interface and query software, web page creation and word processing programs.
Education and Training for Sociologists
Entry level positions into this field typically require a Master’s degree. While there may be a few scattered Bachelor’s degree positions available, your best hope of obtaining work in this field will come with the right upper-level degree. Some related instructional programs include criminology, rural sociology, urban studies, and research methodology. A significant number of professionals in this field have doctorate degrees.
Sociologists make a very comfortable salary, bearing in mind the fact that you need a Master’s degree before earning entry into the industry. Even the lowest 10% of these professionals make $39,600 a year. The median yearly salary in the United States is $72,800 and the top 10% of sociologists earn $127,900 annually. This is a pretty comfortable amount of money for covering living expenses.
Sociologists Jobs by Geography
Although only a small segment of the population hold positions in this field, the potential for growth is strong. The states with the highest number of sociologists include the District of Columbia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Washington. Across the United States, there are just a few thousand positions. Take a look at the wages available in different states before choosing a position. States such as New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and California have the highest paid positions.