What Can You Do With a PhD in Sociology?

May 31, 2020

A PhD in sociology provides insight into the environmental and social factors that impact various groups of people. Through courses on topics like quantitative data analysis, contemporary theory, qualitative research methods, and classical theory, graduates will develop a strong understanding of human behavior and the skills needed to collect and analyze complex information. Graduates can find jobs within such areas as academia, community services, and business, with a few specific career options detailed below.

PhD in Sociology Jobs and Salaries

Job Title Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Sociologists $83,420 9%
Market Research Analysts $63,790 20%
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150 13%
Social Workers $50,470 11%
Postsecondary Sociology Teachers $75,290 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

PhD in Sociology Potential Careers


Sociologists use the analytical and data collection methods they have learned on their way to a PhD to aid in the study of specific groups of people and foster a better understanding of why people react the way they do to certain environmental and social events. They make observations about societal behaviors related to race and sex and determine the emotional and physical impact they have on the individuals involved. They can aid local, state, and federal officials in understanding their given populations and help to formulate policies.

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts with a PhD in sociology will be able to better understand human behavior and, as a result, be able to create more accurate forecasts related to sales and marketing trends. Much like in their degree program, market research analysts use various data collection methods to determine the makeup of a given community and better understand behavior. They then use the data that they have collected to determine the effectiveness of a given market strategy and present detailed reports on their findings to management in order to assist them in formulating new strategies.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers work with the community and government officials to identify needed services and programs. These professionals monitor the effectiveness of established programs and ensure that they meet objectives. They oversee community outreach and public awareness programs. Writing proposals for funding can also be a key aspect of this profession. The research, analysis and communication skills developed through a sociology PhD program are instrumental in completing these tasks and can also assist in career advancement.

Social Workers

Social workers help government officials identify communities that are in need of assistance and advocate for resources such as healthcare, food assistance, and childcare. They manage a caseload of assigned clients, determining what types of assistance are needed and developing overall goals. They keep detailed records of these interactions and follow up with all individuals involved to ensure that conditions are improving and goals are being met. Through extensive study of the human mind and human behavior, those with a PhD in sociology will have the tools and education necessary to analyze the situation at hand and come up with solutions. This degree can be helpful for career advancement and management positions in this field.

Postsecondary Sociology Teachers

Postsecondary sociology teachers develop curriculum, instruct students, and may serve on college or university committees. Research is often a strong component of these positions, and publishing research in academic journals is often required for tenured positions. Sociology faculty may also supervise student research projects. A PhD in sociology is typically a requirement to teach at four-year universities.

Earning a PhD in sociology gives graduates a deeper understanding of human and societal behaviors, opening the door to a wide range of jobs that involve analysis of complex social issues. While many graduates stay within academia as sociology researchers or professors, a PhD can also enable career advancement in such areas as social work and market research.

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