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Clinical Sociologist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a clinical sociologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the right career for you.

A clinical sociologist is someone who seeks to observe and analyze the behavior of a group; it's their goal to help groups manifest positive change. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a decline in employment opportunities from 2014-2024, so aspiring sociologists should do everything they can to stand out from their competitors.

Essential Information

Clinical sociologists develop and apply techniques to change human behavior, usually in a group setting. Rather than just researching and observing, clinical sociologists intervene with their subjects with the aim of improving social behavior. This job typically requires a master's degree in sociology, with some employers preferring candidates who hold a Ph.D. in Sociology. The Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACP) offers optional certification. This job might appeal to individuals with interests in psychology, social/cultural interaction and human behavior.

Required Education Master's or doctoral degree in sociology
Additional Recommendations Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACP) certification
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* -1% (all sociologists)
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $73,760 annually (all sociologists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

With a broad background of knowledge, clinical sociologists can work in a variety of venues. They might conduct therapy or applied research, or they might work as organizational consultants, professors or criminal mitigation experts. Many clinical sociologists work as university professors and perform intervention-type sociology practice as a part-time job. They may specialize in one type of sociology, such as gender relations, family interactions or social psychology.

In general, clinical sociology is a practice-oriented science, with a focus on diagnoses and change. Clinical sociologists help clients understand how interpersonal and social forces affect their behavior, and they encourage clients to enact positive change in their lives. In general, clinical sociologists should have excellent communication, logic and analytical skills. They should also have an interest in working with others to explore human behavior.

Duties

In general, a clinical sociologist identifies problems and proposes solutions. In a therapeutic or counseling scenario, clinical sociologists help clients alleviate issues with society or with other individuals, such as in marriage counseling. They might work with specific groups or an entire community to pinpoint issues and find ways to eliminate them. Clinical sociologists working in consulting positions might advise organizations on how to improve their social structure in the office, often through discussion of ideas such as power relationships, communication gaps and gender inequality.

Other duties vary depending on the specifics of the clinical sociology position. For example, a clinical sociologist working as a mitigator might prepare and present the life history of a client as testimony in order to provide the jury with any relevant life details. Teachers or trainers might present information to given groups of people to facilitate change. For example, they may teach cultural competency to a social services organization or lead workshops about death and bereavement for those who work in terminal care.

Education Requirements

Jobs as a clinical sociologist require a master's degree or Ph.D. in sociology. Licensure is not necessarily required, but a clinical sociologist with an advanced degree can become professionally endorsed as a Certified Sociological Practitioner (C.S.P.) from the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACP).

Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of all sociologists was expected to decline by 1% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Individuals with a Ph.D. will have the best opportunities for employment. Sociologists possess a broad skill-base that can be used in a variety of industries, including consulting, advertising and the federal government. In May 2015, the BLS reported the median wage for sociologists as $73,760.

Sociologists need strong problem-solving and interpersonal skills, along with an interest in research. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a slight decline in employment opportunities for sociologists between 2014 and 2024, it's strongly suggested that aspiring sociologists consider earning doctoral degrees to bolster their career prospects.

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