Sociologist Career Description


Sociologists study society and social behavior.

What they do

Sociologists study society and social behavior by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that develop when people interact and work together.

Sociologists typically do the following:

  • Design research projects to test theories about social issues
  • Collect data through surveys, observations, interviews, and other sources
  • Analyze and draw conclusions from data
  • Prepare reports, articles, or presentations detailing their research findings
  • Collaborate with and advise other social scientists, policymakers, or other groups on research findings and sociological issues

Sociologists study human behavior, interaction, and organization. They observe the activity of social, religious, political, and economic groups, organizations, and institutions. They examine the effect of social influences, including organizations and institutions, on different individuals and groups. They also trace the origin and growth of these groups and interactions. For example, they may research the impact of a new law or policy on a specific demographic.

Sociologists often use both quantitative and qualitative methods when conducting research, and they frequently use statistical analysis programs during the research process.

Their research may help administrators, educators, lawmakers, and social workers to solve social problems and formulate public policy. Sociologists may specialize in a wide range of social topics, including, but not limited to:

  • education and health
  • crime and poverty
  • families and population
  • and gender, racial, and ethnic relations

Sociologists who specialize in crime may be called criminologists or penologists. These workers apply their sociological knowledge to conduct research and analyze penal systems and populations and to study the causes and effects of crime.

Many people with a sociology background become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers. Most others find work in related jobs outside the sociologist profession such as policy analysts, demographers, survey researchers, and statisticians.


Work Environment

Sociologists typically work in an office. They may work outside of an office setting when conducting research through interviews or observations or presenting research results.

How to become a Sociologist

Most sociology jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Many bachelor’s degree holders find positions in related fields, such as social services, education, or public policy.

Sociologists typically need a master’s degree or Ph.D. There are two types of sociology master’s degree programs: traditional programs and applied, clinical, and professional programs. Traditional programs prepare students to enter a Ph.D. program. Applied, clinical, and professional programs prepare students to enter the workplace, teaching them the necessary analytical skills to perform sociological research in a professional setting.

Courses in research methods and statistics are important for candidates in both master’s and Ph.D. programs. Many programs also offer opportunities to gain experience through internships or by preparing reports for clients.

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree may benefit from internships or volunteer work when looking for entry-level positions in sociology or a related field. These types of opportunities give students a chance to apply their academic knowledge in a professional setting and develop skills needed for the field.



The median annual wage for sociologists was $83,420 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $141,770.

Job Outlook

Employment of sociologists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Sociologists will continue to be needed to apply sociological research to other disciplines. For example, sociologists may collaborate with researchers in other social sciences, such as economists, psychologists, and survey researchers, to study how social structures or groups influence policy decisions about health, education, politics, criminal justice, business, or economics.


Similar Job Titles

Research Associate, Research Coordinator, Research Scientist, Research Specialist, Social Scientist, Sociologist

Related Occupations

Anthropologist and Archeologist, Geographer, Political Scientist, Political Science Teacher-Postsecondary, Sociology Teacher-Postsecondary


More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.


Magazines and Publications



Video Transcript

When people interact… form a group… or work together… they create relationships, and eventually… culture. Sociologists study interactions between groups of people, how human behavior changes over time, and what makes organizations and cultures succeed… or fail. Sociologists collect survey data, make observations, and perform interviews to test their theories about human social interactions. They analyze the data and present their findings in written reports or presentations. These social scientists may collaborate with… and advise… policy makers, other social scientists, or groups that seek answers to sociological issues. Sociologists may focus their research and study efforts in one of many social topics, including health, education, racial and ethnic relations, the labor market, families, gender, poverty, crime, or aging. Sociologists typically work in an office full time. They may travel to conduct research or present their results at conferences. Most positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Applied, clinical, and professional master’s degree programs prepare graduates to perform sociological research in a professional setting. Many students who complete a Ph.D. in sociology become college-level instructors. Other Ph.D. graduates lead research for non-profits, businesses, or government. More entry-level positions in related fields, such as social services, education, or public policy… may be obtained with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.



Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online