A degree in sociology does more than give you a strong, well-rounded educational foundation for embarking upon a wide range of career paths. It also provides you with unique competencies that will give you a competitive edge in the professional workplace. These include an understanding of social systems and large organizations; the ability to collect, read, and analyze statistical information from surveys or polls; the capacity for critical thinking about social issues and problems that confront our society today; the ability to devise and carry out research projects to assess whether a program or policy is working; and insight into group dynamics, diversity, and human behavior.

Here are just a few careers fields you can choose from with a degree in sociology:

  • Youth services and recreational programs – Programs that deal with youth outreach and enrichment (e.g., Girls Inc., Boy Scouts, etc.) often employ directors and staff that have a background in sociology and a sociological knowledge of deviance, family, and socialization.

  • Crisis prevention, safety and disaster management – Programs that provide crisis counseling and assistance and agencies that deal with natural disasters (e.g., Red Cross, FEMA, etc.) are often in need of employees who recognize the need for cultural and social perspectives in responding.

  • Polling and social trend analysis – Hundreds of organizations collect data and analyze social trends, and they need people with the expertise in research methodology that a degree in sociology can provide.

  • Personnel services – Sociology offers an excellent background in how people work, think, and interact, and employees who can deal with the complex issues common to humans involvement are always in demand to fill positions related to hiring, benefits, employee resources, etc.

  • Medical administration and public health workers – Sociologists ability to interact with people, interpret the background of their problems, and communicate with them effectively make them a valuable addition to any treatment team.

  • Foreign service and international negotiation – With a background in understanding culture and society, professionals who choose to work overseas or with an international organization can provide the insight necessary for successful cross-cultural exchanges.

  • Criminal justice and penology (corrections) – Agencies such as the FBI, local law enforcement, and crime prevention units require employees with an understanding of the social context in which crimes take place and a sociological perspective of deviant behaviors. The ability to use and interpret statistics on crime are also an asset.

  • Social work and social service – Programs that provide social services (e.g., drug rehabilitation, needs assistance, family counseling, etc.) benefit from employees who have an expertise in sociology, whether it's interacting with people and understanding the challenges they are facing or researching and assessing the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of policies and programs.

  • Broadcasting and journalism – A background in sociology is advantageous to journalists, who are regularly called upon to interview those who work in social or political arenas and to write articles on social issues and social problems (e.g. violence, crime, etc.).

  • Government – Whether at the local, state, or federal level, government agencies benefit from employees who have the knowledge of social organization, power, and diversity that sociology provides.

  • Law – A career in law requires an understanding of more than just laws and legal procedures, making a degree in sociology excellent preparation when it comes to assessing the “big picture” – the economic, cultural, and social context from which their clients are coming – not to mention reading and interpreting data from social scientific sources.

  • Urban and regional planning – Sociology provides insight into demographic techniques and data analysis, the social needs of populations, and the knowledge of diverse political interests, all of which are very important to city planning. 

  • Market research and advertising – Market research requires many of the skills specific to sociology: an understanding of different population groups (i.e., target markets), an ability to conduct research, and an ability to interpret, use, and communicate the data that results from this research.

  • Teaching – Beyond the crucial course “sociology of education,” sociology provides future teachers with the knowledge to develop skills for working with diverse student bodies and for understanding the social sources of many students’ problems. 

  • Ministry and church administration – Sociology offers a background for the diverse social problems that those seeking to go into the ministry will inevitably encounter. 

You may also choose to pursue an advanced degree in sociology or a related field. If you are interested in this path, here are some steps to take to apply to graduate school.