Helpful Resources for Finding a Job in Sociology

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the work of sociologists in its Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), updated annually. The 2010-11 edition of the OOH uses the latest data available (in this edition, from 2008) for predicting income, forecasting job growth, describing typical duties and work conditions, educational requirements, and the like. Because the OOH combines so much useful data on a single page makes it one of the most helpful resources for finding a job in sociology.

The OOH says jobs bearing the title political scientist or sociologist numbered around 9,000 in 2008 but graduates with a sociology degree are frequently employed in other fields under other titles, such as market analyst, grant writer, educator, research consultant, and product advisor.

The median annual income of a sociologist in 2008 was $68,570, with earnings surpassing $122,000 for those in the top 10% of highest earners in the field. Political scientists saw a median income of $104,130, with the highest paid earning more than $146,000.

Job growth is forecast to be faster than average through 2018 for graduates holding a sociology degree. Many current workers in this field, including tenured faculty members at universities and colleges, will soon retire, freeing up their positions for new hires. Changes in government policy and spending on public service programs such as school reform, health care, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits will require sociological research and analysis for optimum results. Nonprofit organizations rely on sociologists to assess need and develop best practices for delivering services; as governments cut budgets for social and public services, nonprofits are taking on more responsibility. In the corporate arena, growing demand for sociologists is equal to consumer demand for products and services; it’s often social allure – the human touch – that generates the latest trend, be it a bank account, an ebook, a car, or time spent in a tanning salon.

The sociologist’s excellent job outlook comes with stiff competition, making higher education a wise investment. Many entry-level sociology jobs go to graduates holding a bachelor’s degree but tenured faculty positions, as well as the more highly paid private sector and government positions, call for sociologists holding master’s and PhD diplomas.

Mastery of certain skills and personality traits are important to the sociologist regardless of which field of industry is chosen. Research and analysis requires command of mathematics and statistical analysis but excellent writing skills effectively present that analysis to the desired audience. A thorough command of computers and their peripheral technologies is a must.

Much of the data a sociologist uses comes from anecdotal evidence, or simply listening to what a research subject is saying. The ability to glean useful data from such conversations is more qualitative than quantitative, making this one area where personality skills are important. Another characteristic difficult to measure is the creativity to design a successful study and the plan that brings it to fruition. Being comfortable with public speaking is critical for all sociological positions where one is expected to speak to or interact heavily with the public, consumers, policy makers, shareholders, or whomever the targeted audience.

Take advantage of internships. Internships are such an outstanding way to gain entry into the field of sociology that participation is encouraged at most schools. Many school campuses support student organizations devoted to public policy so joining these organizations and participating in any research activities or public debates is an excellent way to make a name for oneself and enhance a job resume.

Many successful sociologists got their start volunteering for research and analysis assignments with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The experience one earns in these assignments could become a direct link to permanent employment once an assignment is completed satisfactorily.

The OOH is one of the most helpful resources for finding job in sociology but every sociologist knows the value of market analysis, especially when marketing oneself. Focus on education. Polish the social skills not taught in school. Join industry-related social networks online and off. Offer to write guest articles for websites of interest. Accept internships and volunteer positions. Keep informed of the latest developments in sociology as well as any specialty field that might be of interest.

Use the OOH as a valuable reference tool for gauging the growth outlook for other industries that rely on sociology for success, too, such as computer gaming, disaster relief, sports, or breakfast cereals. Sociology is happening everywhere.

  • ACORD International (Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development) – http://www.acordinternational.org/

  • American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.86f46a12f382290517a8f210b80f78a0/?vgnextoid=57d000d61830f110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default

  • American Sociological Association Job Bank – http://jobbank.asanet.org/jobbank/index.cfm

  • Association of American Educators – http://www.aaeteachers.org/

  • Careers / Federal Bureau of Investigation – http://www.fbijobs.gov/

  • Careers / Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Department of Homeland Security – https://www.fema.gov/careers

  • Careers at the Associate Level / Saint John’s University – http://www.csbsju.edu/psychology/student-resources/associate.htm

  • Careers at Walmart – http://walmartstores.com/Careers/

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Employment – http://www.cdc.gov/employment/

  • Child Protective Service Specialist / Arizona Department of Economic Security – https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=154&id=2128

  • The Coca-Cola Company – http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/careers/index.html?WT.cl=1&WT.mm=footer2-careers-red_en_US

  • Democratic National Committee Jobs – http://net.gop.com/Jobs/

  • Family Services Caseworker Trainee / Maryland Department of Budget and Management – http://www.dbm.maryland.gov/jobseekers/Pages/JobResults.aspx?idJob=523

  • General Motors Global Careers – http://careers.gm.com/

  • Google Jobs – http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/index.html

  • Government Jobs Database of Criminal Justice Employment Opportunities – www.govtjobs.com/crim/index.html

  • Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division – www.irs.gov

  • Latin American Sociological Association (Spanish language website) – http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/comte/

  • Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/jobs/

  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service / US Department of Justice – https://ncjrs.gov/

  • National Geographic Employment – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/jobs/

  • National Park Service – http://www.nps.gov/personnel/

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition – Sociologists and Political Scientists – https://www.bls.gov

  • Peace Corps Agency Jobs – http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=jobs

  • Republican National Committee Jobs – http://net.gop.com/Jobs/

  • Smithsonian Institution Career Center – http://www.sihr.si.edu/

  • Social Sciences Jobs in the Federal Government – http://www.makingthedifference.org/federalcareers/socialsciences.shtml

  • Time Warner Cable Sales and Marketing Jobs – http://jobs.timewarnercable.com/group/

  • United Nations Careers – https://careers.un.org/lbw/Home.aspx

  • United Way – http://apps.liveunited.org/jobs/

  • US Census Bureau – http://www.census.gov/

  • US Department of Health and Human Services – http://www.hhs.gov/careers/

  • US House of Representatives Employment Information – http://www.house.gov/content/jobs/

  • US Office of Personnel Management Sociology Series – http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/standards/IORs/gs0100/0184.htm

  • US Senate – http://www.senate.gov/

  • What Can I Do With a Degree in Sociology? / Careers Centre, University of Kent – http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Sociology.htm

  • What Can I Do With a Sociology Major? / University of California – Berkeley – http://sociology.berkeley.edu/index.php?page=soc-major

  • The White House – http://www.whitehouse.gov/

  • Who We Need / World Health Organization – http://www.who.int/employment/who_we_need/en/