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Careers in Political Sociology: Education Options and Requirements

Degrees in political sociology cover sociology, political and research topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for political sociology graduates.

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A master's degree in political science, psychology, sociology, law or economics is helpful for individuals in the field of political sociology. Career options include a sociologist, policy analyst or public opinion analyst. While it may be possible to secure an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree, graduate studies are required for advancement.

Essential Information

Political sociologists work in the field of both sociology and politics, and they are responsible for doing a lot of research on the behaviors of different social groups. In order to succeed in this career, students must have good interpersonal and analytical skills. Those looking to serve as assistants in this field usually need at least their bachelor's degree, and research positions may require a master's or doctoral degree. Coursework for political sociology majors may include political theory, American policy and sociology contemporary theory.

Career Sociologist Policy Analyst Public Opinion Analyst
Education Requirements Master's degree Master's degree Master's degree
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -1% -2% (for all political scientists) 19% (for all market research analysts)
Mean Salary (2015)* $82,100 annually $103,210 annually (for all political scientists) $70,030 annually (for all market research analysts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

People looking for a career in the political sociology field usually need to get an advanced degree, such as a master's. These careers deal with public policy and public science. Below are overviews and descriptions of three potential careers for political sociology graduates.

Political Sociologist

Political sociologists research the behaviors and activities of political, economic and social groups. The data gleaned from sociologists' research provides the foundation for policymakers to design and fund social or economic programs. Researchers also study election results and public opinion surveys to assess political and social trends.

Entry-level research assistant or analyst positions generally require a minimum of a bachelor's degree education. Research and administrative positions may require a graduate degree in political science or sociology.

Undergraduate degree programs, like the Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, include courses in research methods, writing, statistical analysis and sociological theory. Graduate-level programs, such as the Master of Science in Political Science, include courses in political theory, research methods, political behavior, public administration and American policy.

Employment for sociologists as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is expected to decline 1% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov) due to the decline in government grants that fund many jobs for sociologists. The BLS indicates that sociologists employed in state government settings in 2015 earned an average annual salary of $63,300.

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Policy Analyst

Policy analysts work in government to develop public policy and programs. These analysts study existing programs and policies to determine their effect on society. Analysts may work for government agencies or public officials, providing data analysis for programs and policies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), policy analysts usually have a minimum of a graduate degree. Related programs for analysts can be found in law, economics, sociology, political science and public policy. Students may also consider pursuing a specific area of policy analysis, such as healthcare or economics.

While the BLS does not supply data specifically about policy analysts, it does group analysts under the category of political scientists. For this group, the BLS reports a 2% projected employment decline during 2014 to 2024 for this category due to funding reductions from the government. Political scientists earned a mean annual salary of $103,210 as of 2015, per the BLS.

Public Opinion Analyst

Public opinion researchers and analysts gather information for politicians, candidates, government officials and corporations. The researcher gathers public opinion through surveys and interviews. Public opinion analysts and researchers may also work for government agencies to provide data that influences policies and programs. Individuals in the field can also conduct public opinion surveys on social issues for corporations.

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for an entry-level position as a public opinion researcher and analyst. An education in sociology or psychology can provide a background in behavior for public opinion surveyors designing research studies. Students may also pursue courses in statistics, sampling, mathematics and designing surveys.

Information provided by the BLS about market research analysts, which could include public opinion analysts, shows that job growth in this area is expected to be 19% from 2014 to 2024. Market research analysts earned an annual average salary of $70,030 as of May 2015.

Political sociologists research economic, political and social groups, while policy analysts study the effect current programs have on society. Public opinion analysts conduct interviews and surveys to gather information for politicians, corporations and government officials. All of the information political sociologists gather through research can be used to influence companies and politicians in terms of their view of public policies and existing programs and can help determine if new programs or policies are needed.

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