Sociology Majors: Salary and Career Facts

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

What Is a Sociology Major?

Sociology is the study of groups and organizational structures within society and how these groupings influence human behavior and social development. Sociology majors may pursue careers as a sociologist, sociology professor or political scientist. Sociologists' work often involves research, and they may develop tests to examine a theory and then analyze their results and present their findings. Sociology professors teach postsecondary students about sociological theory, research methods, social problems and the impacts of race, class and gender, among other topics. They prepare individuals who may go on to become sociologists, political scientists or sociology professors. Political scientists focus specifically on political systems. Like sociologists, they may conduct a lot of research and analyze their findings; however, their focus is limited to political issues.

SociologistSociology ProfessorPolitical Scientist
Degree RequiredMaster's degree or doctoral degreeDoctoral degree is required for most four-year colleges/universities; master's degree for two-year colleges or technical schoolsBachelor's degree for entry level positions; most positions require either a master's degree or a doctoral degree
Educational Field of StudySociologySociology
Education
Political Science
Sociology
International Relations
Key ResponsibilitiesStudies society and societal behavior; examines social institutions and social organizations; studies behavior of human interaction; creates research projectsTeaches courses in sociology; works with students; plans lessons and assignments; conducts research; publishes original researchResearches political subjects; monitors current events, policy, and political issues; studies political and social trends; conducts research
Job Growth (2014-2024)-1%*15% *-2%*
Average Salary (May 2015)$82,100*$76,750*$103,210*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Sociology Degree Programs Are Available?

Sociology degrees are available from the associate's level through the doctoral level. The higher degree levels spend more time and credits on sociology electives; associate degrees only cover more basic principles of sociology. Some universities even offer programs that cut out the master's degree and jump from a bachelor's in sociology to a Ph.D. in sociology.

Sociology is the study of how people act and interact with each other. In a degree program you will look at gender, families, morals, behavior, culture and class systems. Some of the subjects you may take in master's and Ph.D. degree programs are social theory, social movements, social inequality, gender, sexuality, marriage, racism, deviance, drugs and alcohol, criminology, globalization, urbanization, hate crimes, health inequality and age inequality.

What Careers Can I Consider?

A sociology degree will open up a variety of career fields to you. You can pursue an undergraduate degree in sociology as the first step for a career in journalism, public health, criminal justice, counseling, city planning, education, human services or politics. Of course, many of those careers require graduate degrees in other disciplines.

However, the most common careers for sociology majors with graduate degrees are teacher and sociologist. As a sociologist or political scientist, you will be in charge of studying and researching groups of people. Through this research you will offer solutions to many sociological, psychological, emotional and structural problems. You might advise the government, schools, individuals, businesses, not-for-profits or community organizations. You will help by decreasing crime, fostering interactions among different cultures and ethnicities, structure organizations effectively, integrating people of different genders and sexualities, working with families and encouraging class mobility.

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that sociology professors earn an average salary of $76,750 per year (www.bls.gov). If you live in a higher-paying state such as Rhode Island, New Hampshire, California, Connecticut, and New York, you might earn more. The five states that have the highest concentrations of sociologists are the District of Columbia, New York, Wisconsin, California, and Washington. As of May 2015, the yearly average salary for sociologists was $82,100.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Market research analysts have similarities to sociologists and political scientists because their work involves determining the interests and influences that affect a specific group of consumers and how to use advertisements to effectively target that group of consumers. They need a bachelor's degree in their field. High school teachers perform many tasks that are similar to the work of professors, but they need only a bachelor's degree and teaching license. They also work with teenagers, and they typically teach just one subject, such as sociology, though they may teach several subtopics within their discipline. Psychologists conduct work that is similar to the work of sociologists, because they also study and analyze human behavior in different contexts. They need to complete graduate studies in their field to become a psychologist.

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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