How to Become a Sociologist

Sociologists are experienced professionals who focus their work studying the dynamics of social institutions, groups, cultures and organizations.

Their work is important in understanding human behavior and can be very helpful in a variety of settings and industries.

The majority of Sociologists with advanced degrees work for research organizations, consulting service firms or in the postsecondary sector such as colleges and universities, as well as state and local governments.

Sociologists may gather sociological data to help solve social problems and to help formulate public policy at the local, state or federal level.

Individuals pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology also have opportunities in fields such as administration, public policy, social services or education.

Education Requirements to Become a Sociologist

Individuals who want to become a Sociologist need a minimum of a Master’s degree to pursue opportunities at the research level.

Those who want to teach at the postsecondary level must also complete a PhD in Sociology.

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In order for someone to become a Sociologist, an individual must first attend a bachelor’s program.

Individuals who study Sociology as an undergrad and earn this degree at the bachelor’s level also have plenty of opportunities in fields such as education, social services or public policy.

Individuals wishing to pursue an advanced degree at the Master’s level have a couple of options to choose from depending on the career path they choose.

Individuals who pursue an applied, clinical or professional program are preparing themselves for the workforce in order to apply for sociological research positions.

On the other hand, individuals who pursue a Master’s in Sociology under a traditional program are gearing themselves for a PhD program.

The majority of individuals who complete a PhD in Sociology tend to teach at the postsecondary level or work in the nonprofit, government or business sectors and perform research.

Individuals pursuing a Master’s or a PhD in Sociology will take advanced classes in research methods and statistics.

In addition, many programs offer internship opportunities that give students the opportunity to gain hands on experience in research and reporting, sometimes for actual clients.

Sociologist Job Description

Sociologists are experienced professionals who start by observing groups, organizations, cultures, social establishments and other processes developed by people to understand society and social behavior.

The studying and observations involved are needed to fully understand these groups under the larger context of political, economic and social forces.

Sociologists at the research level will be responsible for creating, planning and designing research projects that are geared to assess social issues theories or concepts.

Once a research project has been developed, they will implement it by collecting data in the following forms:

  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Interviews

After gathering enough data, Sociologists will begin to analyze the information to draw conclusions.

They will then create reports, articles, or presentations detailing the conclusions drawn out from the research they performed.

Depending on the organization they work for, Sociologists will present and review their findings as well as consult and advise their clients, policymakers or other professionals requesting information gleaned from their research.

Some Sociologists may also specialize in a specific field such as: education, health, aging, poverty, families, racial and ethnic relations, crime, gender or population.

Sociologist Salary and Career Path

Individuals who want to become a Sociologist can expect the median annual income to be approximately $74,960, according to figures from 2012.

Exact wages will heavily depend on the industry an individual works in.

Sociologists have the potential to earn up to $120,000 per year.

Job projections for Sociologists also look promising as the number of jobs are expected to increase by 15 percent through the year 2022.

Opportunities for sociologists are expected to increase because of the demand for their skills and services are needed to understand human behavior in a variety of industries including government and business entities.

However, because Sociology as a profession is relatively small, the actual number of job openings expected to be created through 2022 I approximately 400.

Individuals who have a high interest in human behavior and the dynamics of social, government or even business institutions will find that a job as a Sociologist may be a natural fit.

There are plenty of opportunities whether an individual chooses to seek an undergraduate, Master’s or PhD in Sociology.

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