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Sociologist: Education and Career Information

Social issues and human behavior go hand-in-hand. There are people who work hard in understanding groups and organizations who focus on social influences and how they affect society and the people in it. This occurs with a number of areas and social topics. This is an interesting position that requires years of dedication and education in order to become recognized as someone who is an expert in the field. Sociologists are important parts of our society, and can often offer some explanations as to why certain things, moral stances, and thought patterns occur.

What does a sociologist do?

A sociologist studies society. They observe schools, workplaces, the military, hospitals, the government, media and a host of other groups that are involved in our everyday makeup. Their main mission is to understand how individuals and their behaviors are influenced by society. People are interesting and are influenced by a number of things like advertising, religion, and the people around us. Sociologists study those mindsets and activities to find out where certain ideation came from. They have studied social topics like health, crime, education, race and ethnic relations, population, gender, aging, poverty and others. Sociologists design research projects, collect data, analyze and draw conclusions, prepare reports, articles and presentations on their findings, collaborate with other sociologists, and consult with policymakers and other groups on social issues. You will find them in office spaces, universities and government agencies. Most sociologists are professors, teachers, statisticians, policy analysts, survey researchers and demographers.

How much does a sociologist earn?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a sociologist makes about $73,760 on average per year. The amount of earnings can increase based on level of education, experience and location. It is important to note that this job category holds steady and the standard level of education for an entry-level position in this area is a master’s degree.

What types of skills are needed to become a sociologist?

There are a number of skills required for a person to become successful as a sociologist:

Reading Skills: Strong reading skills are needed to comprehend any research and data gathered.

Writing: A sociologist must be an effective writer, as they are tasked with writing articles and other forms of communication for varied audiences.

Critical Thinking: A sociologist must use logic and reasoning to come to sound conclusions after identifying underlying issues.

Research skills: A sociologist must have strong research skills in order to gather and understand data gathered from a number of groups. They must be able to correlate information with other findings to come to decisions.

Negotiation: Sociologists must have strong negotiation skills in order to get other individuals comfortable with answering questions and providing data they need.

Evaluation: Sociologists must have strong evaluation skills in order to properly evaluate the information they are being given, and to determine whether or not the information they have received is valid.

Technology: A sociologist must be able to work well with different types of technology to keep track of data, disseminate information and remain efficient.

Sociologists must have strong knowledge in the following areas:


Internship Requirements

There are a number of requirements needed to become a sociologist, and years of internship requirements are needed to successfully be recognized as a contributor in the field. The number of hours needed varies based on the program and specific career path.

Education Requirements

The road to becoming a sociologist is a long one. There are two different types of sociologists. One track is the traditional program, and the other is the clinical and professional program. Both programs are intensive and require extensive education. The first step is getting into a bachelor’s degree program, which usually takes four years to complete. The student will study sociology, where they will become familiar with the main theories and methods of research and analysis. They will study introductory courses, which includes coursework in economics, psychology, philosophy and statistics. Some classes in this introductory area will include: Introduction to sociology, Functionalist theories, Conflict theories, Symbolic interactionist theory, Statistical techniques in sociology; and Race, ethnicity and gender.

Once the bachelor’s degree has been attained, the student must prepare to continue their education and receive a master’s degree. These programs will emphasize teaching methods in sociology, and frequently include student teaching opportunities. These programs prepare students for additional education in doctoral study. In order to enter the program, the student must make a decent score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students will have to complete a thesis with original research with observational and historical methods. They will study coursework such as Rational choice theory, Exchange theory, Ethnomethodology, Advanced statistics and Sociological data analysis.

Once the student has attained the master’s degree, they should also pursue a terminal degree, Ph.D. in sociology. These individuals teach at the college level or work for governmental agencies. They also specialize in sub-disciplines. They must perform a doctoral dissertation that effectively contributes to the field of sociology. Coursework includes Comparative theories in sociology, Cultural sociology, Media and gender, and Contemporary issues in social theory.

This can be a very rewarding career path for someone who is interested in making a difference and offering an education-based perspective on how groups think, why they think the way they do and how society is affected by those thought patterns. Sociologist lend valuable information to a number of areas. They work well with law enforcement organizations in deciphering why crimes are committed and why groups of people do what they do. They have also been instrumental in providing data on poverty, certain classes of groups, and why their belief systems are certain ways. This is a very interesting position, but can be tiring for some. Gathering data can be very hard work, and learning how to deal with a number of people to extract the information needed is key. For the right person, this will be a very lucrative position that makes a positive contribution to society.

Sociology Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Scholarships Association of Black Psychologists Epilepsy Foundation
Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship Future Counselors of America Scholarship Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship
Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award NIH Undergraduate Scholarship NAJA Graduate Scholarship
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Psi Chi Awards and Grants Wayne F. Placek Grants
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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
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*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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