Salary and Career Info for a Sociology PhD Degree

Earning a PhD in sociology would typically cover studying behavior of various groups and cultures as well as government policies and issues. Find out about the curricula of the program, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for sociology doctorate graduates.

Receiving a PhD in sociology is usually the best way to find employment in the academic or political fields of sociology or political science. A PhD requires extensive coursework, research, and writing a dissertation. Sociologists or political scientists usually specialize in a particular subfield of the discipline.

Essential Information

A candidate for a PhD in sociology can decide to specialize in studying a variety of areas such as family, ethnic relations, or gender roles. The student may decide to pursue a path toward becoming a college professor who would teach and also perform research. Another option would be to concentrate on government studies.

Career Professor of Sociology Sociologist Political Scientist
Education Requirements Doctorate in Sociology Doctorate in Sociology Doctorate in Sociology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 15% -1% -2%
Average Salary (2015)* $76,750 $82,100 $103,210

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

There are three main career paths that can be pursued with a PhD in sociology. A college professor in sociology would teach either graduate or undergraduate courses and also perform research in the field. If a career as a sociologist is chosen, the sociologist would study and analyze behavior of various groups depending on their specialty. The third choice with this degree would be to become a political scientist, which would involve analyzing and developing solutions to a variety of government issues.

College Professor

A professor of sociology in a collegiate setting requires a doctoral degree, and he or she may instruct undergraduate or graduate students. Like many other teaching positions, sociology professors create lesson plans, present class material to students and perform academic evaluations. In addition to maintaining teaching duties, sociology professors at many universities also perform extensive research and submit academic papers to journals and scholarly bodies of research.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of postsecondary sociology educators was $76,750, as of May 2015 ( While the lowest-earning ten percent earned $37,030 or less, the highest-earning ten percent earned more than $127,500.

Growth and Employment

Due to a steady increase of college enrollment rates, growth of the postsecondary sociology field is expected to rise by 15%, or faster than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024. While job prospects are good for non-tenure track positions, competition can be expected for tenured positions, with graduates of doctoral programs having the best job opportunities.


A sociologist studies society and behavior, mainly through the different groups, cultures and institutions to which people belong. They also study behavior of different group members and how different groups interact with each other. A sociologist can specialize in a wide array of fields including family, ethnic relations and gender roles.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the average annual salary of a sociologist in May 2015 was $82,100. The top-earning ten percent of sociologists earned more than $145,250, while the bottom-earning ten percent earned $36,200 or less. While scientific research and development companies employed the most sociologists, universities, local governments and state governments were also among the largest employers.

Growth and Employment

From 2014-2024, employment of sociologists is expected to grow at a rate of less than 1%, which is negligible. Sociologists should expect to face stiff competition, particularly for research jobs. Since sociologists learn a variety of skills applicable to other fields, they may find better job prospects in jobs that don't specifically have the word 'sociologist' in their titles.

Political Scientist

A political scientist examines the government, from a structural and theoretical level, and tries to seek out solutions to many political issues and problems. Political scientists evaluate all aspects of government when seeking solutions, including public opinion, public policy and government ideology.

Salary Information

The BLS reports that the average annual wage of political scientists as of May 2015 was $103,210. Political scientists working for management, scientific, and technical consulting services typically earned the most, with salaries among workers averaging $128,670. Universities and colleges were a lower-paying employer of political scientists, with employees among those institutions earning $57,970 per year.

Growth and Employment

Political scientists are expected to suffer a decline in jobs, with employment decreasing by 2% over the 2014-2024 decade. While the federal government employs the largest amount of political scientists, organizations such as colleges, research services and local governments also employ a significant amount of political scientists.

A PhD in sociology allows one to teach in a college setting, perform sociological research, or may prepare one for a career in political science. Regardless of the subfield, research skills, communication skills and a background in statistics are all essential to earning a PhD in sociology.

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