5 Skills Every Sociologist Should Possess

Sociologists study human behavior in a variety of social contexts. In order to do this well, they must be able to conduct thorough research, critically analyze data, and communicate findings effectively through the written word. The nature of the work requires a sociologist to exhibit cultural sensitivity and be indiscriminate toward the diverse groups they study. Since sociologists frequently collaborate with others, interpersonal skills are also needed to succeed in this field.

Research Skills

Sociologists conduct significant amounts of research. In addition to gathering, reading and analyzing available data, they also create their own data by designing and conducting research projects. Sociologists also gather data through personal interviews, social observations, surveys and other means.
In addition to other research tasks, a sociologist may be required to define the research question, design a research study, and design the appropriate tools required to conduct that study. Organized, research-oriented individuals who can plan an entire research program from start to finish are greatly desired in the sociology field.

Critical Thinking & Analytical Skills

In addition to conducting research, sociologists must also analyze the data from that research and draw appropriate conclusions. Sociologists use several different types of analyses depending on the type of data being examined. For example, a demographics study may require a quantitative analysis that uses statistics to develop relevant socioeconomic comparisons.

Successful candidates must be skilled critical thinkers. Critical thinking enables sociologists to ask the most important questions, develop the most effectual research questions and identify the most crucial pieces of data in the research. The ability to think critically also helps them identify the most appropriate method to analyze the data.

Communication Skills

Whether preparing a report or completing an interview, a sociologist is frequently required to communicate well through verbal and written means. Clear, concise and meaningful communication is one of the most precious skills that an aspiring sociologist can possess.

Of course, obtaining the required masters or doctorate degree will provide ample practice writing term papers and presenting reports. However, a natural talent for written or verbal communication is an immeasurable benefit to aspiring sociologists.

Cultural Sensitivity Skills

Since sociologists study diverse groups of people, it is vitally important that sociologists do not enter the field burdened with stereotypes. Among other groups, sociologists may study foreign cultures, religions, demographics, racial issues, poverty and more. It is not wise to enter this field of study with preconceived ideas of certain social groups.

According to Western Washington University, employers seek sociologists who demonstrate a “global perspective” and possess a “high degree of intercultural awareness and more sensitivity in race relations.”

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills encompass so much more than merely being friendly. To master these skills, sociologists must learn to maintain a positive outlook, listen effectively, speak slowly and clarify any misunderstandings. Truly skilled individuals learn to balance assertiveness and empathy in a way that fosters respect and mutual understanding among all parties.

These skills help sociologists avoid communication breakdowns and improve their ability to lead research projects, cooperate with colleagues and relate to the subjects they’re studying. Since sociologists spend so much time observing social interactions, conducting interviews and otherwise interacting with other people, these skills are vital to maintaining a friendly and productive work environment.

Although significant education is required before a sociologist can begin working in their chosen field, aspiring sociologists can begin working on these necessary skills immediately! Practicing critical thinking, communication, interpersonal skills, research techniques and cultural sensitivity can provide a head-start toward a successful and fulfilling career in sociology.

Related Resource: Top 30 Sociology Blogs of 2013