A sociology major offers students the opportunity to study human behavior, communication and interaction. Students in this discipline examine how gender, socioeconomics, race and age affect individuals and cultures, and they can consider how policy making and organizational change can improve society. The major also has drawbacks, however, such as the shortage of jobs in the field. Sociology majors may need to work as analysts, teachers or statisticians rather than as sociologists.
Broad Learning Base
A strength of the major is its focus on human interaction and its relevance to daily life. Sociology courses teach students how to look at the world through the eyes of others and function in a world where cultural literacy is more critical than ever. Sociology majors also learn how to read statistics -- a skill that applies to many fields. Because sociology covers such a wide subject area, students may focus their studies on anything from the sociology of work to that of race relations.
Important Job Skills
The specific skills sociology majors develop prepare them for a wide variety of careers. The study of logic and political systems fits with work in law, while communications and investigation study readies graduates for work in journalism and public administration. The mathematical and business focus suits graduates for work as business executives or counselors. Sociology courses hone critical-thinking, problem-solving and communications skills necessary for success in most work environments and can prepare the graduate for postgraduate studies.
The very skills a sociology degree nurtures are needed to succeed in coursework. Although students sometimes choose the sociology major because they cannot select the degree they truly want or because they think the courses will require little effort, sociology classes require critical-thinking skills, lots of reading and an ability to understand complicated theories and apply them to social situations. Many sociology students select a second major to focus their studies, and this requires many more classes.
Competitive Job Market
Those with only a bachelor’s degree may struggle to find work in the field. Working as a “sociologist” -- conducting research for universities or political organizations, for example -- typically requires at least a master’s degree. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the field will grow through 2022, the limited number of jobs with this title makes competition fierce. Those without the advanced degree or unable to find jobs as sociologists may work as educators or in social services -- say, as social workers. The job market for social workers is much broader, according to the BLS, but the median salary was $44,200 in 2012, and clinical social workers also need a master's degree and specific licenses.
- University of Evansville: Why Sociology?
- University of California at Berkeley: What Can I Do With a Sociology Major?
- University of California San Diego: Why Major in Sociology?
- American Sociological Association: Sociology -- A 21st Century Major
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sociologists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
- U.S. News & World Report: 6 Degrees That Employers Are Looking for Right Now
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