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What Can You Do With a Sociology Major?

Sociology is the study of human behavior as it relates to society. In sociology degree programs, students learn about the social, political, religious and economic aspects of society.

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Sociology is a highly interdisciplinary field; majors explore a variety of factors that affect the relationships between individuals, institutions and society. Three possible job titles for graduates include market research analyst, probation officer and public relations specialist.

What Can You Do With a Sociology Major?

An undergraduate program in sociology includes a broad range of course topics that prepare students for a variety of careers or to continue their studies in sociology or social work graduate programs. Those who've majored in sociology may pursue careers in fields such as:

  • Business
  • Human services
  • Criminal justice
  • Politics
  • Social work
  • Education

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Career Options for Sociology Majors

Most sociologist positions require one to have at least a master's degree, but those with a bachelor's degree in sociology may work in assistant or research positions, among other jobs. Within these programs, students may have the opportunity to customize their program to match their career goals. Here are some details about a few specific career options for sociology majors:

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts evaluate data and market trends in order to forecast and predict product sales for a company. They may examine customer demographics, research competitors and analyze prices. Based on their results, they prepare reports that can be used by individual clients or companies for making key financial decisions. Sociology students wishing to enter this career may choose to take additional courses in subjects like:

  • Statistics
  • Marketing
  • Research methods
  • Economic sociology
  • Comparative capitalism

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of market research analysts will increase by 19% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the national average. The BLS also reported that market research analysts and marketing specialists earned an average salary of $70,620, as of May 2016.

Probation Officer

Probation officers assist in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders who are put on probation instead of being sent to jail. They evaluate offenders and write court reports, ensuring that offenders are meeting the requirements of their probation. In addition, they often help connect individuals with valuable community resources, like job training and substance abuse counseling. Sociology courses that could benefit future probation officers may cover topics such as the following:

  • Sociology of punishment
  • Discrimination and stigma
  • Law and society
  • Social stratification and inequality
  • Welfare regimes
  • Race and identity

The BLS has predicted that employment of probation officers will increase 4% between 2014 and 2024. This slower-than-average increase may be due to limited government funding. These workers earned an average salary of $55,380 in May 2016.

Public Relations Specialist

A public relations specialist helps to manage the public image of a client or product. They may do this by scheduling public appearances, writing press releases, drafting speeches and communicating with the media. Within companies, they work with advertisers to make sure that promotional campaigns align with the public relations message, and more than ever, they use social media to execute their work. To prepare for this job, sociology majors may wish to take courses in:

  • Professional communications
  • English
  • Business practices
  • Organizational failure and success
  • Media, society and culture

Employment of public relations specialists is predicted to increase by 6% from 2014-2024, according to BLS data. In May 2016, the average salary for a public relations specialist was $66,540, per the BLS.

About the Sociology Major

Sociology majors learn about family, race, culture and social movements, among other topics relating to human behavior. This major is often based around research and strives toward a greater understanding of human social behavior, whether throughout ancient history or recent developments in small American societies.

Because sociology is a subject that evolves with the times, so does the major. Students are often required to go out in the community and observe school and living conditions. Regardless of future career goals, general sociology courses may include:

  • Sociological theory
  • Sociology of death
  • Sociology of medicine
  • Issues in education
  • Population dynamics
  • Deviant behavior
  • Wealth and poverty
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Environmental issues

Sociology majors can find many different jobs after they graduate, including market research analyst, public relations specialist and probation officer. Sociology students who wish to pursue these positions may choose specific courses that provide relevant preparation.

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