become a sociologist

What does a Sociologist do?

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A sociologist is involved in designing research projects to help test theories concerning social issues. Sociologists study social institutions, cultures, groups, organizations, or processes of the interaction that develops when people work together. Sociologists frequently meet with colleagues on research projects concerning education, religion, family, or many other topics to compare and collect information concerning social issues and society.

Watch a video to learn what a sociologist does:

How to Become a Sociologist


A sociologist requires a master’s degree or Ph.D. There are two types of pathways one can take to earn their master’s degree. One is a traditional program in sociology and is designed for those wanting to go onto earn a Ph.D. afterwards. The other pathway is an applied, clinical, and professional master’s degree program which prepares one to enter into the workforce. These programs oftentimes teach analytical skills to perform research in a professional environment. Courses in statistics and research methods are highly recommended for both levels of education.

Many of these programs offer internship opportunities. During this time, you can apply your educational training in addition to gaining experience prior to entering this career field. A sociologist is also expected to have strong communication, analytical, written, and critical thinking skills. These skills are all needed when interacting with research participants, colleagues, and conducting research.

Job Description of a Sociologist

Many sociologists study human behavior, interactions, and organizations though they usually specialize in a wide variety of social topics. These social topics include health, families, crime, gender, poverty, education, aging, racial issues, ethnic relations, and population. Therefore they work in a variety of settings. However, no matter what setting a sociologist works in they collect information through surveys, interviews, or observations and then draw conclusions from their data. They also give presentations detailing their research and prepare articles and reports.

A sociologist examines social influences and how it affects groups of people or individuals. A sociologist sometimes follows the growth and origin of these interactions and groups. An example may include the effect of a new policy or law in a particular demographic. A sociologist often researches using statistical analysis programs, quantitative measures, and qualitative methods.

Sociologists work regular hours and usually on a full-time basis. They often work in offices and work on computers. The largest employer according to the Bureau Labor of Statistics are organizations that develop and research social services and humanities followed by educational services and then federal and local governments. There is a slower than average growth in this career field, therefore those with a Ph.D. have better job opportunities, though it will still be competitive due to the limited positions.

Sociologist Career Video Transcript

When people interact, form a group, or work together, they create relationships, and eventually – culture. Sociologists study interactions between groups of people, how human behavior changes over time, and what makes organizations and cultures succeed or fail. Sociologists collect survey data, make observations, and perform interviews to test their theories about human social interactions. They analyze the data and present their findings in written reports or presentations.

These social scientists may collaborate with and advise policymakers, other social scientists, or groups that seek answers to sociological issues. Sociologists may focus their research and study efforts on one of many social topics, including health, education, racial and ethnic relations, the labor market, families, gender, poverty, crime, or aging. Sociologists typically work in an office full time. They may travel to conduct research or present their results at conferences.

Most positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Applied, clinical, and professional master’s degree programs prepare graduates to perform sociological research in a professional setting. Many students who complete a Ph.D. in sociology become college-level instructors. Other Ph.D. graduates lead research for non-profits, businesses, or government. More entry-level positions in related fields, such as social services, education, or public policy… may be obtained with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sociologists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 19-3041.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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