Social Science Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in the social sciences. Read on to learn more about career options, along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Social Science Major?

Undergraduate students who wish to study the social sciences may major in a specific social science, such as economics, political science, anthropology, psychology, sociology or history. Alternatively, they may enter a general social-science program; these programs are generally interdisciplinary in nature, but they commonly allow students to choose one or more areas of focus, including the majors listed above, as well as such topics as gender studies, urban studies, gerontology, crime and law, and teaching.

With such a wide range of topics to study, careers for social science majors are accordingly varied. Some, such as economist, political scientist, anthropologist, psychologist, sociologist and historian, require advanced degrees. However, many jobs are available to those with a bachelor's degree in the social sciences, including financial analyst, museum curator, high school teacher and writer.

Financial analysts help others invest money. They might work with businesses on their investment strategies or with individual sales agents. Analysts study financial data, determine trends and make recommendations on stocks, bonds and more. They might manage portfolios or funds, or specialize in risk or other areas.

Museum curators are in charge of obtaining, storing and displaying museum collections. They are often involved in specimen authentication and overseeing research projects, and they may be the public face of the museum. Those at large museums may work with other curators, each specializing in a certain field, such as botany or animals, while those at smaller museums may have more broad responsibilities.

Teachers at high schools often specialize in a certain subject, so those with a social-science degree would make social-science lesson plans, teach students and assess their progress, prepare them for standardized tests and communicate with their parents. High school teachers may teach multiple, but related, topics: for example, a history teacher might hold classes in both American history and British history.

Writers generate fiction and/or non-fiction work, such as for books, magazines, websites, television scripts and more. In addition to writing, they often perform research, collaborate with editors or clients and rewrite material based on feedback. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two-thirds of writers and authors were self-employed in 2014.

The following chart gives additional information about these four careers.

Financial AnalystMuseum Curator High School Teacher Writer
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Master's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Economics Archeology, Museum studies Social science disciplines Social science disciplines
Training Required Work experience Internship or work experience Student teaching On-the-job training
Licensing or Certification Licensing may be required, Certification recommended Voluntary certification License required Voluntary certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12%* 8%* 6% (all secondary teachers)* 2%*
Mean Salary (2015) $95,320* $56,990 (all curators)* $60,440 (all secondary teachers)* $69,130 (all writers and authors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect as General Social Science Major?

In schools that offer a general social science major, you can expect to complete courses in a wide range of topics, like economics, political science, sociology, statistics and research methods. You'll study public administration and the function of the government. You'll also look at various cultures and societies to examine their differences and study a variety of theoretical fields, including evolutionism, structuralism and functionalism.

What Majors Fall Into The Social Science Category?

The list of majors that fall under an umbrella of social science includes, but is not limited to anthropology, economics, political science and history. Each major area of study requires different courses and prepares students for different careers.

As an anthropology major, you can concentrate your studies in archaeology or biological and linguistic anthropology. You can expect to complete courses in language, anthropological theory, and courses that explore the culture and people in a particular region or area. You may also study topics like evolution or symbology. With the guidance of a faculty member, you may be able to design your own program of study, depending on the college or university's policies.

In an economics program, you can choose between financial economics, international economics and public policy concentration. Regardless of the concentration you choose, you can expect to study price theory, microeconomics and macroeconomics. You may also complete courses that explore politics from an economic standpoint. This type of course includes study of regulation and interest groups, how government grows and constitutions.

As a history major, you will focus on the events that have happened and the people that have come before. You can expect to take courses in U.S. history, European history and non-western history. Many schools require courses that explore one of the following areas, Africa, East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East or South Asia.

What Jobs Can I Do?

For individuals with a social science background, entry-level employment possibilities include positions in writing and assisting in research projects, or as a high school teacher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to work in education, you would need to complete a licensure program specific to the state where you wish to teach (www.bls.gov).

The BLS states that further study is required for employment as an anthropologist, studying human diversity and culture, or as an archaeologist, studying the past. These careers often require the completion of a master's or doctorate degree.

The BLS states that a history major may be qualified to teach after obtaining their state license and can do so by completing a degree in education and concentrating in history. A history major may also find employment as a museum technician, preparing fossils or other artifacts for display in museums. A technician may also be responsible for installing exhibits and restoring documents.

As a graduate of an economics program, you may find work as a financial analyst, helping businesses and others evaluate and make financial decisions. Your job would include analyzing economic information and meeting with clients to learn about company management. You may be required by employers to obtain licensure from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

How Much Can I Earn?

Financial analysts earned an average of $45.83 per hour, or $95,320 annually, in 2015, according to the BLS. The highest-paying industry was described as 'other financial investment activities,' with 42,740 financial analysts in that industry earning $57.48 per hour. The next-closest industry was the securities and commodities exchange, where individuals earned an average of $57.33 per hour in 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Secondary school teachers earned an average of $60,440 in 2015, with those in Alaska, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey earning the highest wages, according to the BLS. California and New York also boasted high employment numbers, the second- and third-highest in the nation, with 97,260 employed in California and 64,200 in New York; their average wages were $74,770 and $79,720, respectively.

Curators earned $56,990 on average in 2015, the BLS reported. More than half worked for museums, historical sites and similar institutions, earning $54,600. Other top employers of curators were colleges and the government. States with the best wages were Washington, D.C., California and New York.

The BLS states that in 2014, there were 136,500 writers and authors working in the United States. These individuals earned an average of $33.24 per hour, or $69,130 in 2015. Employment of writers and authors is expected to grow two percent from 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Students with an interest in the social sciences might also consider careers as editors, reporters, public relations specialists, historians, librarians or insurance underwriters. Some of these professions, such as being a librarian, may require a master's degree. Editors who work for news organizations tend to have a high degree of awareness of current events and the political implications of events, and they assign stories to reporters to cover that they believe will be of importance to their audience. Reporters report news to the public; this work might include outlining historical factors that are pertinent to a story, or research of financial matters. Librarians help people find information and conduct research, as well as choose books and other items for the library, create budgets and train staff.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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