Sociology PhD: Salary and Career Facts

Read about the types of jobs you could pursue with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sociology. Learn about information such as job duties and salaries associated with different positions.

What Is A Sociology Ph.D.?

A sociology Ph.D. is someone who has completed a doctor of philosophy in sociology. This means that the individual has earned bachelor's and master's degree, and is a professional in the field of sociology. There are a number of career options for those with a Ph.D. in sociology. These professionals may pursue a career as a sociologist, or a postsecondary sociology teacher. Sociology focuses on society and social behavior. Sociologists examine cultures, organizations, groups, organizations and other social institutions and examine how these groupings influence human behavior. Much of the work that sociologists do involves research. They theorize about social issues and then develop ways to test their theory, conduct the tests, analyze the data and present their findings. Postsecondary sociology teachers instruct college students in the discipline of sociology. They may also conduct research as part of their academic career.

Sociologist Postsecondary Sociology Teacher
Degree Required Master's degree; doctorate preferred Doctorate degree
Education Field of Study Sociology Sociology
Key Skills Research, interviewing, writing, problem solving Teaching, research, interpersonal, presentation
Licensure/Certification N/A A teaching license or certification may be required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9%* 6%*
Average Salary (2018) $90,290* $83,310*

Source: *U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Can I Qualify for with a Ph.D. in Sociology?

Once you have obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology, you have many diverse career options. Many individuals with doctorates in this field become professors and conduct research at 4-year colleges and universities. However, there are many other types of positions you can qualify for with your degree. For instance, your degree will enable you to pursue high-level positions within government agencies, private research firms, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

You may hold various titles depending on your job duties, such as program manager, director of research, market or research analyst, survey researcher, statistician, community developer, demographer or consultant. With additional training, you could also work as a counselor, social service program director or therapist. Additional areas sociologists may work in include marketing, public relations, human resources and industrial relations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the top three industries employing the largest number of sociologists in 2015 were the scientific research and development services, colleges, universities and professional schools; and state government (

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your specific job duties will vary according to your job title and place of employment. If you work as a professor at a college or university, you will teach sociology courses and conduct original research. Professors generally must publish their research in peer-reviewed journals, present papers at professional conferences and meet with students on a regular basis.

If you work for a private research firm or in government, your job responsibilities may be more diverse. Your job may entail gathering data, conducting surveys, giving interviews and writing reports. You may design graphs and use statistics to interpret data and conduct quantitative and qualitative analyses. You may also communicate your findings to individuals within your organization or in other businesses that use the data to make important decisions.

What Is the Job Outlook like?

According to the BLS, from 2018-2028, employment of sociologists is projected to increase by 9% and college sociology teachers by 9%.

Political, business and social organizations that have a need for individuals with advanced research and statistical skills will also drive demand for sociologists with doctorates. However, because it is such a small field, you should expect very strong job competition. The BLS states that postsecondary teachers will see faster than average job growth over this same period due to an increase in student enrollments.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

Your salary will be determined by your position, level of responsibility and the industry in which you work. The BLS reported that the mean annual wages for all sociologists were $90,290 as of May 2018. Sociologists working with in scientific research and development services earned the highest wages, according to the BLS.

In addition, the mean salary of postsecondary sociology teachers were $83,310 as of May 2018. Salaries for sociology professors can vary considerably depending whether you work for a 4-year university or a junior college. According to the BLS, 4-year universities on average pay $85,930 annually, while junior colleges offer a yearly pay rate of $76,010.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Anthropologists and archeologists have similarities to sociologists because they study the origins of cultures and groups and how they influenced behavior. They need a master's degree. Political scientists also have some similarities to sociologists. They focus on political systems and the impact of those systems on people and their behavior. They need a master's degree in their field. Postsecondary education administrators also need a master's degree. They work in the same field as postsecondary teachers, but they focus on student services.