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Sociology Majors study people, but not in the same way as Anthropologists or Psychologists. Rather than looking at the past to understand cultures or looking inside an individual's mind, Sociologists look at communities and social groups and study the way that interaction occurs on a fundamental level.
Many Sociology majors go into social work or counseling, or even just remain in the field as full time researchers and educators. Others go on to work in aspects of business that require an innate understanding of relationships. Human resources departments are often staffed by former Sociology Majors, and jobs that involve things like conducting test groups or otherwise managing large groups of individuals.
But with so many different options, where's a new Sociology grad to begin?
Well, that's where we come in. We literally created a map, just for Sociology Majors such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone -- it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation on your path, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:
First thing's first: what skills you'll need to get started.
Sociology Majors are known for their keen observational skills when it comes to groups of people. Their ability to study the interactions of a particular group and grasp its internal workings is vital to a variety of kinds of employers, who use this information in ways that are as varied as the services they provide.
The skills that a Sociology Major develops as a part of the observations and studies they undertake all stem from the core idea that understanding relationships is critical to understanding people.
Let's take a look at some other skills for Sociology Majors:
Understanding how people interact gives Sociology Majors a leg up when it comes to directing large groups of individuals. This requires an innate understanding of power dynamics and the way that individual behavior is affected by group mentalities, but that's something you'll pick up quickly even just in your studies.
One of the first things a Sociology Major is sure to pick up on is the way that different cultures form and interact with one another. This stems from a basic understanding of the idea of a discourse -- that communication within a particular group follows a set of rules that, while often unique to each group, can be studied and (eventually) allow a Sociology Major to engage with another person on their own terms.
Effective communication skills.
That brings us to the last (and most important) skill for any Sociology Major. Understanding how cultures and leadership works won't get you far if you're not able to communicate those ideas or act on any of your knowledge at a social level. Knowing how to communicate effectively is essential for any position related to dealing with people, and any Sociology-related job you're likely to get will require dealing with multiple people at once.
If your degree in Sociology is a BA, it's unlikely that you'll get a job where you're practicing Sociology in the academic sense. It's much more likely that you'll be taking the ideas and principles of the field of Sociology and applying them to some sort of other job.
Because of this, internships can be very helpful to you when you're just starting out. They help you get your foot in the door to a field you find interesting while giving you the time to pick up the practical skills required to move on to a more substantial position.
Typically companies will post available internships to their official websites, and if you're still in college, your school should also have specific resources to help you find an internship. Check with your college's career resources department -- they may even have links to internships posted on the college's website.
Here are some potential fields to look for internships in as a Sociology Major:
Before you settle on an internship, though, you'll want to make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
Sociology is the study of social order and behavior, so it makes sense that Sociology Major job seekers look for positions related to communities and arbitration.
Like Psychology Majors, Sociology Majors often become counselors or social workers of some sort, but they have a different skill set -- rather than seeing why people think a certain way, they tend to have a better grasp on how a culture or group thinks and interacts. Almost like they're psychoanalyzing an entire group at once rather than an individual.
With our map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.) But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common jobs for recent Sociology major grads.
Here are a few of the most interesting jobs for recent grads such as yourself:
Human Resources Coordinators are in charge of organizing and directing a particular company or group's Human Resources department, providing support to employees in a variety of ways and coordinating new hire processes.
Certified Nursing Assistants typically work with patients on a day to day basis, helping fulfill basic tasks for patients in order to help them maintain a high quality-of-life. This role requires empathy and the ability to work in a demanding, fast-paced role.
Residential Counselors supervise a group of some sort -- whether that be university employees, residents of group homes, rehab centers, etc. -- where all members of the group cohabitate within a structured environment.
Search according to your skillset.
When searching for a position in the Sociology field, it can be tough to find something based purely on the name of the position -- especially if, being new to the field, you still aren't totally sure what you want to do. So instead of looking for a particular job, look for a position that emphasizes a particular skillset.
For example, the skills that would help you in conducting focus groups -- like maintaining the attention of a small group, asking piercing questions, strong public speaking skills -- wouldn't necessarily be the same skills that someone searching for an HR Coordinator would be looking for, as that would be more in line with organization skills, understanding how bureaucracy functions, and knowing how to help individuals with their needs while still keeping an eye on the larger picture.
By searching for jobs according to the skills they require rather than by their title, you might find yourself with a much higher leg up on those around you. Even if you're still not sure what you want to do, at least you're doing something you're good at.
Obtaining a graduate degree in your course of study can serve as an excellent way to separate you from the herd - but you must first decide whether it's worth your time.
Sociology follows a similar course as many other fields when it comes to higher education. There are numerous opportunities available to you already as a BA, which widens slightly with the addition of the MA. For example, fields related to counseling or that have the term "sociologist" at all in the title tend to require a Master's.
There's also a slight pay bump, which can increase your earning potential over the course of your lifetime -- however, you want to be careful about going into debt (or more debt, as the case may be) while pursuing additional education such as a Master's degree.
Unlike the Master's, which is still intended for those entering the work force, a PhD is more intended for researchers and academics. Expect a lot case studies, academic writing, journal publishing, and lots and lots of reading. A PhD is for the hardcore sociologists who are most likely looking to remain in the research portion of the field for most of their lives.
Once more, here are the common advanced degrees that people with a Sociology degree normally consider:
Master's in Sociology
If you're still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:
American Sociological Association (ASA)
One of the largest professional organizations for sociologists. This website has links to other resources, a newsletter, and membership benefits for those interested in the study of sociology itself.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
A professional organization for social workers, which is a field that many former Sociology Majors enter into. Offers professional development courses, membership benefits, associated publications, and various other resources.
Enter "Sociology" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to Visual and Performing Arts Majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.
The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.
In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
And if this all seems like a lot - don't worry - the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.