What is a Sociologist?

Sociologists study society and social behaviour by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that people develop. Most sociologists work in research organizations, colleges and universities, regional and federal government, and consulting service firms. They typically work full time during regular business hours. Most sociology positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D.

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What does a Sociologist do?

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 other sociologists or social scientists
  • Consult with and advise clients, policymakers, or other groups on research findings and sociological issues.

Sociologists study human social lives, activities, interactions, processes, and organizations within the context of larger social, political, and economic forces. They examine how social influences affect different individuals and groups, and the ways organizations and institutions affect people's lives.

They study the behaviour of, and interaction among, groups, organizations, institutions, and nations. They look at activities in social, religious, political, economic, and business organizations. They also trace the origin and growth of these groups and interactions.

Educators, lawmakers, administrators, and social workers use sociological research to solve social problems and formulate public policy. Sociologists specialize in a wide range of social topics, including the following:

  • Health
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Racial and ethnic relations
  • Families
  • Population
  • Gender
  • Poverty
  • Aging.

Many people with a sociology background become professors and teachers. Others often find work in related jobs outside the sociologist profession as survey researchers, statisticians, policy analysts, and demographers.

What does it take to be a Sociologist?

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,/ professional programs. Traditional programs prepare students to enter a Ph.D. program. Applied, clinical, and professional programs prepare students to enter the professional workplace, teaching them the necessary analytical skills to perform sociological research in a professional setting.

Most students who complete a Ph.D. in sociology become professors or teachers. Courses in research methods and statistics are important for both master’s and Ph.D. candidates. Many programs also offer opportunities to get experience through internships or by preparing reports for clients.

Although some graduates with a bachelor’s degree find work as sociology research assistants, most find positions in other fields, such as social services, administration, management, or sales and marketing.

What is the workplace of a Sociologist like?

Sociologists typically work behind a desk, researching and writing reports. They may occasionally work outside the office to meet with colleagues, conduct field research though interviews or observations, or present research results. Most sociologists work full time during regular business hours.

How much does a Sociologist earn?

The median annual wage of sociologists was $72,360 in May 2010. (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% earned less than $44,000, and the top 10% earned more than $129,870.

Learn more about being a Sociologist