Can I Work in the Government with a Sociology Degree?

Those who want to work in the government with a sociology degree will be glad to know that there are many public sector careers available at the local, state and federal levels. Almost all of these jobs require the data analysis, quantitative thinking and qualitative research skills that sociologists possess.

Criminal Justice

One of the most fascinating branches of sociology is criminology. These sociologists are interested in topics like social deviance, criminal motivation, minority injustice, recidivism rates and police subculture. While in school, these students may study correctional systems and the barriers of successful reentry into society for past inmates. They may also study how inequality and racial profiling occurs within law enforcement activities. Most criminal justice researchers work for universities or law enforcement administrations.

These researchers will provide primary research support for ongoing projects. This may take the form of a fiscal study that documents the negative impact of court-imposed legal fines on different demographic groups. These researchers may be asked to assess the overall costs of collecting fines, and then compare the costs with revenues collected in order to analyze ongoing trends and predictors of payment. Alternatively, they may be asked to research recidivism rates among minority youth and work with community partners to develop preventative programs.

Public Health

Sociologists often take jobs as analysts and researchers in public health organizations that exist at local, city, county, state and federal levels. Some of the most recognized organizations include state departments of health, county health inspection programs, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Sociologists who have a background in medicine, an interest in biostatistics or the health care industry will do well in public health research.

Most jobs require candidates with qualitative research skills to perform studies of focus groups, one-on-one interviewing and collaboration with health care professionals like epidemiologists or biostatisticians. Many of the sociologists who work in public health are involved in big data projects that statistically study disease outbreaks, widespread health problems and social issues related to access to health care. For instance, they may study low-income populations in order to support anti-poverty work. Public health sociologists must be familiar with statistical software programs like SAS or SPSS.


Sociologists who study the education system will know how to analyze data that is used to improve programs, aid in policy-making decisions and train teachers and counselors. They leverage their expertise in social groups and interactions to improve student experiences and educational systems. They may be asked to conduct research and present analysis of school district’s instructional staffing budgets, multi-year schedule plans or instructional performance data.

In order to accomplish this, they must maintain databases, use analytical tools and employ efficiency measures. Educational sociologists will assist leaders in implementing scheduling and education management processes. They will coordinate procedures for enrollment tracking and measurement in order to provide research support, which includes data acquisition and productivity analyses. They must often coordinate with information technology and educational administrators to develop and implement effective and accurate data collection systems.

Work in the government with a sociology degree not only exists but is meaningful and makes a difference in our nation. Opportunities to use your training as a sociologist can be furthered explored at The American Sociological Association website.

Looking for a place to pursue your sociology degree? Please see: Best Top 10 Online Sociology Degree Programs.