5 Things Every Sociologist Should Know BEFORE Becoming a Sociologist

Sociologists are a part of an academic field that scientifically studies segments of society. They often work for research organizations, government agencies and academic institutions. Once hired, the sociologist may research a specific culture, group or behavior in society. While this field is an immensely popular one to study, it can be difficult to get a job as a sociologist. To make the job application process easier, sociologists should make sure to attain top scores and advanced degrees. Before choosing this career field, sociologists should become familiar with some of the common benefits and pitfalls of the profession.

1. Top Grades Are a Necessity

Students who want to become sociologists must begin by getting top scores in their undergraduate programs. Without excellent grades, students are unable to get into master’s and doctoral programs in sociology. Since many jobs in this field require advanced degrees, it is important that students get the experience and grades necessary for getting into these programs. In addition, many sociologists are employed by academic institutions that will look into the sociologist’s academic history. Planning in advance, studying and getting top scores make it easier to transition into this career field.

2. Plan for a Doctoral Degree

As a rule, most sociology jobs will require at least a master’s degree. For the best paying jobs, students will need to attain a doctoral degree in the subject. A master’s degree in the field will normally take one to three years to complete. Meanwhile, a doctoral degree can take up to five years to finish. While the additional studying time may seem arduous, it is a necessity if students want to become eligible for all of the sociology jobs that are currently available.

3. Choosing a Focus Area

While the sociologist’s job duties vary from organization to organization, there are generally two types of positions in this field. Students can choose to study at traditional and applied master’s degree programs. With a traditional master’s degree, the student learns about research techniques and sociology theories that prepare them for doctoral coursework. Often, students in this academic track go on to teach sociology at universities. Meanwhile, students who choose an applied sociology degree will focus on analytical skills and research techniques that help them to perform research. These students generally end up working in a professional setting where they will conduct research and analyze data.

4. Prepare a Backup Plan

For undergraduate students, getting hired as a sociologist may be challenging. Even doctoral graduates may have problems finding job positions in the field. Due to this, it is important to create a backup plan. Sociology majors can obtain a job in a variety of different fields and industries. Often, sociology majors can find work as social service case workers, probation officers, criminal analysts, law clerks, community organizers and data analysts. While the goal may still be to get employed as a sociologist, having a backup career in mind will ensure that the student can work in a similar field immediately after graduation.

5. Working as a Sociologist Can Be Lucrative

While competition for sociology jobs can be competitive, working as a sociologist can be incredibly lucrative. Sociologists earn a median wage of $72,810 per year. In 2014, there were just 2,600 jobs available in this field, and the hourly pay was at $35.01. While the job growth is slightly negative, this career field can pay extremely well once the student is hired.

Considering the competition for jobs, sociology majors should spend extra time boosting their resume. Getting top grades and a higher degree level will help applicants to achieve the career of their dreams. In addition, gaining experience through internships and on-the-job training will help sociologists extra appealing to prospective employers.