Demography

The field of demography examines population characteristics and change over periods of time. Continue reading to learn more about career opportunities, salary potential, educational requirements and useful coursework for demographers.

Is Demography Right for Me?

Career Overview

If you're good with numbers and like geography and statistics, you might consider becoming a demographer. The field of demography involves the study of human populations and the factors driving population change over time. Demography is a specialty within the broader field of sociology, the study of social structures and behaviors.

Demographic analysis relies heavily upon statistics and can be used in a variety of ways, including world census calculations or for the purposes of community development. As a demographer, you may focus on a range of issues impacting human populations, from health and aging to racial disparities. You'll need strong quantitative skills combined with a curiosity in human behavior and cultural complexities to work in this field.

Career Options

Demographers often work for federal, state or local governments where they are employed in research and administrative positions. Many other industries have a use for demographic expertise as well. For example, businesses employ demographers to research market trends and product demand, which helps inform marketing strategies.

International agencies and non-profit organizations also use demographers to enhance their understanding of population-related issues, such as migration and policy reform. Positions in research and education are also common among graduates of demography programs. Potential career options include market research analyst, survey researcher and statistician.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a 15%, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs nationwide is expected for sociologists between 2012 and 2022. Statisticians can look forward to a 27%, or faster-than-average, increase in employment during the same 10-year period. Sociologists can apply their skills to many different occupations, and those with advanced degrees are expected to have the best opportunities. As of May 2012, sociologists and statisticians earned median annual salaries of $74,960 and $75,560, respectively, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a Demographer?

Educational Requirements

If you're interested in working in the field of demography, you'll need a degree in demography or a closely related field, like statistics, economics or geography. Demography programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but are much more common at the latter. Moreover, the majority of demography jobs require master's or doctoral degrees. You can prepare for graduate school by earning either a bachelor's degree in sociology with a concentration in demography or one of the related fields of study.

Graduate Program Options

Graduate students have a range of degree options available to them. In addition to demography, many schools offer dual-degree programs in other social and health science disciplines, which can help candidates stand out in the job market. Some schools offer pre-doctoral training programs in demography for students pursuing doctoral degrees in related fields, like sociology or anthropology.

Demography programs typically include coursework in demographic economics and methodology, population analysis, family studies and spatial analysis. Students at all levels should develop strong skills in statistics, mathematics and computer applications.

Other Program Options

In addition to degree programs, some colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate certificates in demography. Postdoctoral training opportunities are also available to those with doctoral degrees in demography.

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