A degree in sociology provides a solid foundation on which you can build a variety of careers. In our globalized society, many employers search high and low for job candidates with the research skills and knowledge of human behavior that define a sociology education. Graduates can find jobs in the public and private sectors and earn a comfortable living on a sociology major salary.
Sociology Major and Sociology Careers
In a sociology program, you learn how human beings interact with one another and their environments. Sociologists use a variety of tools to collect and analyze data, including surveys, interviews, census reports, focus groups and historical documents. Their studies focus on all types of social issues, including crime and punishment, aging, poverty and wealth, globalization, gender identity, employer and employee relations, race, ethnicity and commerce.
Sociology majors can apply their research experience and knowledge of social factors to a wide variety of occupations, giving them an advantage over many other job seekers. Governments and corporations offer entry-level jobs for sociology majors, many with opportunities for advancement. In some fields, you might qualify for the highest paying jobs with a sociology degree.
Public Relations Specialists
Government and private sector employers hire public relations specialists to promote products and programs, prepare press releases, manage social media accounts, analyze and shape public opinion, create media packages, write speeches for executives and serve as spokespersons.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that public relations specialists earned a median salary of more than $59,000 in 2017. The median wage represents the income in the middle of an occupation’s pay scale. Workers at the bottom of the scale made nearly $33,000, while top earners took home more than $110,000. Based on the BLS survey, government public relations specialists earned a median wage of around $63,500, while the counterparts at educational institutions made about $54,700. The BLS projects the need for public relations specialists to increase by around 9 percent, through 2026.
Urban and Regional Planners
Urban and regional planners work with planning commissions, local governments and environmental agencies on a range of projects that include designing parks, determining zoning restrictions, creating low-cost housing sectors, formulating environmental regulations and establishing building codes.
In 2017, urban and regional planners earned a median salary of around $71,500. The lowest earners made just under $45,000, while planners at the top of the pay scale earned more than $108,000. Urban and regional planners working for the federal government earned the top salaries, followed by those employed by architectural and engineering firms. Based on BLS estimates, urban and regional planning positions should increase by around 13 percent, through 2026.
Private Detectives and Investigators
Private detectives and investigators work for organizations such as investigative agencies, financial institutions, law firms and network security companies. The duties and responsibilities of private investigators vary depending on the type of investigations they conduct, but duties may include performing background checks, searching for missing persons, researching public records or court rulings, interviewing witnesses and conducting computer forensics.
In 2017, private investigators and detectives earned a median income of nearly $51,000. Investigators at the bottom of the pay scale took home nearly $29,000, while the highest earners made around $87,000. Government agencies and financial institutions offered the highest salaries, and retail companies paid the lowest wages. The BLS projects investigator and detective jobs to increase by around 11 percent, through 2026.
Market Research Analysts
Market research analysts help companies understand the types of services and products consumers want. They collect and analyze data through focus groups, opinion polls, surveys and interviews. Market research analysts play a pivotal role in helping companies understand their competitors, target buyers, set prices and develop effective advertising.
Based on BLS data, market research analysts earned a median salary of around $63,000 in 2017. Analysts at the bottom of the pay scale made about $34,500 per year, while high earners brought home nearly $123,000. Market research analysts working in the publishing industry earned the most money. The BLS projects the need for market research analysts could increase by as much as 23 percent through 2026, making it one of the hottest sociologist careers in the market.
Postsecondary Education Administrators
Postsecondary education administrators work in various areas of education, from admissions to alumni affairs. They create promotional materials to attract new students, develop financial aid programs and interview prospective students. Postsecondary education administrators may administer student services such as academic counseling or career development, or plan and implement alumni fundraising events.
In 2017, postsecondary education administrators earned a median salary of more than $92,000. Administrators at the lower end of the scale made around $53,000, while top earners made more than $182,000. Colleges and universities paid the highest salaries. The BLS projects the demand for postsecondary education administrators to increase by around 10 percent through 2026.