What can you do with a sociology degree? The answer to this question is multi-faceted. Sociology, like other behavioral sciences, represents a broad field, so your career options will be many. In this ranking, we feature the top eight highest paying sociology degree jobs currently available.
Human Resources Manager
Median Annual Wage: $113,300
Salary Potential: $201,380
When asked the question of what can you do with a sociology degree, the response of “human resources manager” may not be the first one you utter. It may, however, be among the most lucrative answers. Sociology degree graduates make good candidates for careers in human resources because they understand how people think and function within a group.
Human resources managers are responsible for a variety of different tasks on a daily basis. Some of these may include interviewing job candidates on behalf of a company, developing strategies for maximizing the productivity of an organization’s staff, training employees on company policies and procedures, handling employee benefits, and more.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities for human resources managers are growing faster than average, competition for available positions will be stiff. Candidates with an advanced degree or a specialization in human resources will fare best.
For students interested in a career in human resources, Penn State University offers a flexible undergraduate program in sociology with both BS and BA tracks. Coursework for the program includes classes like Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods in Sociology, and Sociological Theory, for instance.
The University of Florida offers a comparable online option. Its BA in Sociology prepares graduates for a range of career paths, including human resources, as well as graduate study in the field. Students enrolled in this program can expect to take courses such as Principles of Sociology, Methods of Social Research, and Development of Sociological Thought.
Market Research Analyst
Median Annual Wage: $63,120
Salary Potential: $121,080
Another often overlooked answer to the question of what can you do with a sociology degree is the position of a market research analyst. Sociology degree graduates make ideal market research analysts because they understand societal trends that affect the market.
The primary task of a market research analyst is to help a company determine the potential market for a product or service. This professional will examine current market conditions to identify demand for a company’s offerings as well as potential profits. To do this, analysts must collect, analyze, and apply large amounts of economic data. In some cases, they must prepare reports from this data and make presentations to stakeholders.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for market research analysts is growing exponentially. In the age of “big data,” more and more companies are in need of analysts who can make sense of the numbers and use them to the advantage of the organization. Candidates with an advanced degree as well as those with strengths in mathematics and statistics will qualify for the best positions.
To become an entry-level market research analyst, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. Employers usually prefer undergraduate majors in social sciences–such as sociology, for instance— or statistics, communications, or business administration.
Washington State University offers a bachelor’s in sociology program that provides a smooth transition into the field of market research. In addition to completing solid coursework in the field of sociology, students enrolled in the program will have opportunities to participate in research, study abroad, and internship programs.
The University of Texas at the Permian Basin offers a similar BA in Sociology degree program that can be completed entirely online. Enrolled students can select a minor in communication or psychology. Sample course titles comprising the program’s curriculum include Sociological Theory, Population Dynamics, Globalization, and Social Stratification, for example.
Urban and Regional Planner
Median Annual Wage: $73,050
Salary Potential: $114,170
What can you do with a sociology degree? One potential career path for sociology graduates is the one leading to a position as an urban and regional planner. These professionals help communities thrive by making the most of their resources, notably their land. The duties of an urban/regional planner are broad and can vary depending on the community or organization they work for. Still, these responsibilities will typically include analyzing data to inform land-use plans and decisions, meeting with public officials to discuss land-use plans, researching building codes and environmental regulations, reviewing plans for development, and more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job prospects for urban and regional planners are currently very good. Even so, applicants will face competition when applying for these coveted positions. It’s also important to note that the outlook for employment of urban and regional planners can shift abruptly, as the demand for these jobs tends to fluctuate with economic conditions.
To become an urban/regional planner, you’ll most likely need to complete a master’s degree program approved by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). However, an undergraduate degree in sociology provides a good foundation to build upon and will give you a basic framework for your budding career.
Saint Peters University offers a highly relevant BA in Sociology and Urban Studies degree program suitable for students interested in pursuing a career as an urban planner. Coursework for the program includes classes such as Statistics in the Social Sciences, Sociological Theory, Cultural Anthropology, and Sociology of Intimacy, for example. An internship is also required prior to graduation.
Arizona State University offers an online bachelor’s program specific to urban planning. This bachelor of science offering is a comprehensive 120-credit hour program comprised of course titles such as Sustainable Cities, Cultural Diversity in the U.S., Statistics for Geography and Planning, and Global Awareness, for instance.
Public Relations Specialist
Median Annual Wage: $60,000
Salary Potential: $112,310
Those individuals contemplating the question of what can you do with a sociology degree may not immediately consider the occupation of a public relations specialist. Still, this job is well-suited for graduates of sociology programs who understand societal trends and patterns.
The primary role of a public relations specialist is to put a positive spin on a company’s image. This can include writing favorable press releases, upholding connections with members of the press, drafting speeches for company figureheads, and maintaining a brand’s social media, for instance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of public relations specialists is growing about as fast as the average occupation. Competition for job openings is projected to be strong, however.
The online bachelor of sociology degree program from Lamar University provides career preparation for students interested in public relations. Sample course titles comprising the program’s curriculum include Race and Ethnic Relations, Sociology of Gender, Urban Sociology, and Deviant Behavior, for instance.
A solid on-campus option for prospective public relations specialists is Roosevelt University’s undergraduate major in sociology. The university’s location in bustling Chicago makes it an ideal place to study the urban population. Moreover, the school is home to three sociology institutes: the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, the Policy Research Collaborative, and the St. Clair Drake Center for African and African-American Studies.
Social and Community Service Manager
Median Annual Wage: $65,320
Salary Potential: $111,150
The role of a social and community service manager should definitely be top of mind if you’re wondering what can you do with a sociology degree. These advanced positions enable sociology degree graduates to work in management positions, supervising the operations of community organizations and social service programs. The exact duties of social and community service managers may vary based on their terms of employment, but they can include developing ideas for social programs, creating objectives for community service projects, identifying resources to execute program initiatives, and analyzing the success of programs, for instance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for social and community service managers are currently growing much faster than average. This uptick can be attributed to the aging baby boomer population, which is creating a need for more social service programs. An additional factor for the rise in demand for social and community service managers is related to the increased awareness of the need for drug rehabilitation and treatment centers.
To become a social and community service manager, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in sociology, public health, business administration, or a related field plus some prior experience in the field. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree, however.
Individuals interested in this career path may want to consider National University’s Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Offered through the school’s College of Letters and Sciences, the program is flexible in nature and can be completed on campus or entirely online. Requirements for the major include courses such as Sociology of Deviance, Classical Social Theory, and Power and Social Change, for example. Enrolled students can also choose from a range of elective classes in order to customize their degree plans.
Southern New Hampshire University also offers an online BA in Sociology. The program features an optional concentration in Community Health and requires that students take classes like Sociology of Social Problems, Social Science Research Methods, Sociology of the Family, and Sociological Perspectives. Students who elect the Community Health concentration will take additional courses such as Public Health Education and Communication, Wellness Across the Lifespan, and Programming Planning in Public Health.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
Median Annual Wage: $53,020
Salary Potential: $94,770
Still wondering what can you do with a sociology degree? Another potentially high-paying option is the role of a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist. These social services professionals are tasked with the challenging job of rehabilitating criminals who are either incarcerated or on parole or probation. This includes developing rehabilitation plans, meeting with offenders to discuss these plans and monitor progress, offering social services and other resources such as drug treatment and job training, for instance, and even testifying in court.
Jobs for probation officers and correction treatment specialists are currently growing slower than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This doesn’t mean that jobs aren’t available, however. Proficiency in Spanish can help increase your chances of employment in the field.
To become a probation officer or correction treatment specialist, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in sociology or a related field. An additional training program and certification test may also be required prior to becoming employed in an official capacity.
The bachelor’s in sociology program from Saint Leo University is suitable for those interested in pursuing a career as a probation officer or correction treatment specialist. The program features relevant course titles such as Deviance and Social Control, Racial and Ethnic Relations, and The Social Ladder: Inequality and Diversity in America.
California University of Pennsylvania also offers a sociology degree program for prospective probation officers and correction treatment specialists. Its BA in Sociology features a specialization in Social Deviance—the only concentration of its kind in the country. This unique program features coursework such as Sociology of Elite Deviance, Society and the Sociopath, Resocializing the Deviant and the Marginalized, and Sociology of Crime.
Median Annual Wage: $49,470
Salary Potential: $81,400
The occupation of a social worker may be among the first to come to mind when asked the question of what can you do with a sociology degree. Social workers work with individuals to help them navigate various obstacles and challenges in life. These could include problems with a person’s family, health, finances, or job situation, for example. Their specific duties will vary but may include providing counseling services, offering resources such as childcare or financial assistance, maintaining client records, monitoring individual progress, and more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for social workers are growing much faster than average overall. The greatest demand, however, will be for social workers who are qualified to work in the fields of healthcare and mental health/substance abuse facilities.
To enter the field of social work, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in sociology, behavioral sciences, or a closely related field.
Grand Canyon University offers a convenient online BS in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work. The program’s core curriculum consists of courses such as Introduction to Social Work, Stratification and Inequality in a Diverse Society, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Research and Statistics, for instance. A capstone experience is also required for program completion.
A similar on-campus program is offered by Lamar University’s Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. This bachelor’s degree program in social work requires that students take classes like Social Work Research Methods, Social Welfare Policy and Services, Survey of Social Welfare, and Promoting Social Justice.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
Median Annual Wage: $53,020
Salary Potential: $72,990
For those contemplating what can you do with a sociology degree, another potential option is the career path leading to the position of a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselor. These professionals work with individuals to help them cope with specific problems such as alcohol and drug addiction as well as problematic behavior and thinking. In addition to meeting with clients for counseling sessions, these types of counselors are responsible for creating treatment plans, keeping detailed records of meetings, and assessing their clients’ progress.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are currently growing much faster than average. This growing demand can be attributed to the increased societal awareness of the need for mental health services as well as the recent trend in the criminal justice field to send offenders to rehab as opposed to a corrections facility.
To become a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselor, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in sociology or other behavioral science. Graduates of advanced degree programs in the field will have the best job prospects, though.
One of the leading bachelor’s degree programs in the nation for prospective counselors is SUNY Empire State College’s Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services with a concentration in Mental Health Studies. The curriculum for the program includes relevant course titles such as Interview and Counseling, Introduction to Sociology, Studies in Alcohol and Chemical Dependency, and Case Management.
An online option for prospective substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is offered through the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service. This BS in Rehabilitation Studies is a 120-credit hour degree program consisting of courses in case management, intervention techniques, advocacy, and more. An experiential learning component is also required.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Sociology Degree Jobs
Q: Can I complete a sociology degree online?
A: Yes. There are a number of colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer sociology degrees via distance education. Some of these schools are highlighted in this ranking.
Q: Do I need a master’s degree to work in sociology?
A: No. Although a master’s degree is typically required to practice sociology in a clinical setting, there are many other entry-level occupations in sociology available for bachelor’s degree holders.
Q: Are jobs in sociology in demand?
A: Yes. Most of the high-paying sociology degree jobs in this ranking are growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Q: What will I make after earning a degree in sociology?
A: Payscale.com reports that graduates of BA in Sociology programs make $59,000 per year on average. Still, your individual salary will depend on the terms of your employment as well as your experience in the field.