Sociology Careers

By Sarah Gardam

Published on September 21, 2021

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How can Sociology Help in a Career

Pursuing a sociology degree allows learners to explore the systemic nature of various social dynamics and phenomena. Sociology proves particularly important in the healthcare, education, marketing, and public policy fields. Sociological research and analysis can inform organizational practices, policies, strategies, and decisions.

Sociology programs cultivate key skills in research, analysis, project management, and communication. Many programs include internship components that give learners supervised experiences in real-world contexts. The interdisciplinary curricula prepare graduates for many sociology career paths in government, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Professionals with a sociology degree may work as behavioral therapists, data analysts, social science teachers, or sociologists. Other sociology degree jobs include probation officer, court liaison, and social worker. Some advanced sociology graduates conduct research and writing that shapes public opinion and may inform public policy. Public service-oriented sociology careers often prove particularly rewarding and meaningful.



Q. What can you do with a sociology degree?

Sociology degrees can lead to careers in diverse contexts and fields. Many sociology graduates work in social services, human resources, or education.

Q. Is studying sociology worth it?

Studying sociology yields valuable, transferable insights regarding various social phenomena and experiences. Earning a sociology degree can lead to careers in diverse industries.

Q. What do sociologists do?

Sociologists often work as researchers at universities, government agencies, or community organizations. Many sociologists also teach.

Q. What does a career in sociology involve?

Advanced sociology careers may entail research, writing, and teaching. Entry-level career duties vary by sector, job, field, and employer.

Sociology Specializations

The sociology discipline analyzes many diverse topics and phenomena. The core curriculum may include coursework from other disciplines, including economics, statistics, law, and politics. Both undergraduate and graduate students can specialize in particular sociological fields, roles, or work contexts.

Common undergraduate sociology specializations include globalization, social welfare, criminal sociology, and gender and sexuality. Many programs also offer options for race and ethnicity studies, social data research, sociology of law, and sociology of health.

Some sociology programs feature more niche options such as special education, industrial sociology, or environment and society. Specializations and related certifications often feature different requirements, so prospective students should compare options carefully.

Crime and Punishment

This common sociology concentration covers crime's definitions, underlying causes, and prevention methods. Learners may take courses such as criminology, law and society, criminal justice, and juvenile delinquency. Crime and punishment courses often engage moral questions about crime, violence, justice, and punitive control. Aspiring criminal justice professionals, social workers, policy experts, and social justice activists may benefit from this specialization.

Gender and Sexuality

This specialization examines gender and sexuality as social constructions. Common course offerings include gender violence, masculinities, queer theory, and gender and globalization. Gender and sexuality courses offer systemic, sociological analysis of gender-related phenomena such as sexual assault, the gender pay gap, and human trafficking.

Enrollees also learn intersectionality principles to understand how other oppressions compound gender oppression. Graduates may work for community organizations, government agencies, or schools.

What Are the Education Requirements for Sociology?

Students can pursue online sociology degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral level. Sociology degree requirements vary by program and school. See below for the requirements and related careers for each degree level.


Associate-level sociology degrees typically require around 60 credits and include various general education courses. These programs familiarize students with key sociological concepts, skills, and fields. Enrollees complete foundational social science research methods courses.

Additional curricula include social psychology, law, and race in America. Associate degree graduates usually either pursue bachelor's degrees or enter the workforce in roles such as addictions counselor, social services assistant, or human resources professional.


Most bachelor's in sociology programs require about 120 credits, including general education credits, core sociology coursework, and specialized electives. Specialization options vary by degree type, program, and school. Some common concentrations include urban sociology, global development, and data analysis.

Sociology bachelor of arts programs typically feature interdisciplinary curricula that include more liberal arts courses. Bachelor of science programs heavily emphasize research methods and sociology courses. Bachelor's degree graduates may work as data analysts, probations officers, or social workers.


Sociology master's programs often comprise 33-60 credits depending on the program and enrollees' prior coursework. Core master's courses often include quantitative research methods, social demography, and ethnography. Most programs offer elective coursework or curriculum concentrations in areas such as class stratification, gender and sexuality, social change, or globalization.

Master's students usually complete a research-based thesis or capstone field experience. Master's graduates may work as teachers, researchers, social workers, or writers.


Many aspiring sociologists pursue doctoral degrees that help them qualify for careers as professors, researchers, or leaders. Doctoral dissertations involve in-depth, original research and writing, so sociology doctoral programs include advanced capstone courses in research methods.

Doctoral students often specialize in fields such as criminology, data analysis, or economic sociology. In exchange for doctoral funding, Ph.D. program enrollees may also teach or conduct research for the university while in school.

Sociology degree costs depend heavily on the program's duration, institution type, and location. According to College Board, students attending an in-state public university spent an average of $10,500 on tuition for 2020-21. Private school tuition averages over three times higher.

Based on the public, in-state annual tuition average, two-year degrees may cost around $21,000. Four-year bachelor's degrees often cost about twice as much. Doctoral programs also take several years to finish and require an additional financial investment. However, some doctoral students receive tuition remission and stipends in exchange for teaching or research work.

Many working students pursue their sociology degree online. Students who enroll in online programs often benefit from in-state or otherwise discounted tuition rates. They also do not incur expenses for commuting or living on campus.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

Prospective students can use the calculation tool below to determine how much tuition they can afford. Learners can input financial aid, income data, and estimated books and living expenses.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Sociology Majors Make?

Sociology degrees can lead to careers in diverse arenas such as social work, criminal justice, health, and business.

Entry Level

Entry-level sociology professionals may work as human resources representatives and social services assistants. These professionals earn an annual median wage of $43,250 and $35,960, respectively.


Sociology professionals with a bachelor's degree may work as market research analysts, public relations specialists, or social science research assistants. These professionals earn annual median salaries of $49,210-$65,810.


Master's degree-holders may pursue careers in education, working as guidance counselors or high school teachers. These jobs pay annual median salaries of $58,120 and $62,870, respectively.


Ph.D. in sociology graduates often work as postsecondary teachers and professional sociologists. Median annual earnings for these professions fall into the $80,000-$86,000 range.

Some graduates work as researchers at government agencies or research institutes. Possible research jobs include statistician and survey researcher.

Career and Salary Outlook for a Sociology Degree

Sociological knowledge can support many interesting careers in diverse fields and contexts. Undergraduate degrees in sociology often lead to entry-level jobs with public sector organizations. Other sociology graduates pursue human resources or marketing careers.

Professionals with a graduate degree in sociology may work as researchers, social science professors, or social and community services managers. See below for three potential sociology degree jobs.

Human Resources Manager

These professionals direct their organization's human resources (HR) departments and practices. HR managers oversee organizational activities such as hiring, discipline, benefits and compensation, and conflict resolution. These professionals supervise HR personnel and may help executives with organizational strategy. HR managers usually need at least a bachelor's degree.


Universities and public-sector organizations often employ sociologists. These professionals spend their days researching, writing, and sometimes teaching. Most sociologists hold master's or doctoral degrees in sociology-related fields. Their specialized research requires advanced skills in data collection, data analysis, and presentation.

Social and Community Service Managers

These leaders oversee administration and programming for community service-oriented organizations. Social and community service managers hire and supervise staff, meet with stakeholders, and plan and implement programs. They may write grant proposals, manage outreach activities, and gather and present evidence of organizational effectiveness.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Human Resources Manager $121,220 6%
Sociologists $86,110 4%
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600 17%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Sociology

Depending on their career aspirations, sociology degree-holders may benefit from professional certifications. These credentials verify possession of specialized skills in various roles, fields, and contexts. The Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS) offers certified applied sociology and certified clinical sociologist credentials. Sociology graduates pursuing social work careers often need state licensure.

Graduation Cap

Certified Applied Sociologist

AACS grants CAS certification to candidates with sociology-related graduate degrees, 1,500-3,000 hours of professional sociologist experience, and portfolios evidencing professional sociology competencies. Applicants submit reference letters, official transcripts, portfolios, and resumes.

Graduation Cap

Certified Clinical Sociologist

CCS candidates demonstrate the same prerequisites and submit the same materials as CAS candidates. However, CCS applicants must prove that their work affects positive social change. CCS professionals usually perform more measurable clinical interventions, while CAS professionals typically focus on research that informs decision-making.

Graduation Cap

Licensed Social Worker

Many state boards require social workers to obtain licensure. Credential titles and requirements vary by state, but licensure candidates usually need at least a bachelor's in social work. Most candidates need 1,000-4,000 hours of work experience. Candidates must also pass the Association of Social Work Boards examination.

Resources for Sociology Majors

American Sociological Association

Since 1905, this nonprofit professional organization has promoted sociological knowledge. The organization fosters diversity and comprehensive understanding by featuring 52 special interest sections. ASA supports sociology students' professional development by offering education, career resources, and networking.

Blackwell Guide to Sociology Resources

This sociology research guide informs the diverse endeavors of many students, professionals, and organizations. In partnership with learned societies, Blackwell assists researchers in gathering, analyzing, and sharing valuable sociological information.


This quarterly magazine shares new sociological research with a general readership. Contexts offers accessible articles, analyses, reviews, and photography. Sociology students benefit from exposure to current ideas and developments in the field.

International Visual Sociology Association

This academically oriented, nonprofit organization serves students and professionals from many disciplines. The IVSA publishes a journal, offers awards, runs an annual conference, and maintains an advisory committee for early career scholars.

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