What is a Sociologist?

what is a sociologist

A sociologist is someone who studies the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Those who study sociology examine cultures, organizations, institutions that specific groups of people develop. Basically, they study any activity or topic that is connected to a society. This is often within the context of larger human forces such as political, economic and religious activities.

Where Do Sociologists Work?

Many people who study sociology become high school instructors or college professors. They teach the subject and its methodologies to future generations. Many others, though, work as researchers in a wide range of organizations that include:

  • colleges and universities
  • non-profit think tanks
  • governmental bodies
  • consulting firms

Entry-level sociologists who have a bachelor’s degree often enter the field through the business world in human resources management or industrial relations. Others may seek positions in:

  • statistics
  • data analysis
  • organizational research

What Types of Tasks Does a Sociologist Perform?

A sociologist is generally involved in doing some kind of research that examines how different factors affect groups as well as individuals and how various institutions affect people. According to Sokanu, the tasks that sociologists perform include:

  • Collecting data through various means
  • Designing research projects to test social issue theories
  • Preparing reports and publications from a detailed analysis of collected data
  • Consult with and advise other individuals on research findings

Other tasks performed by sociologists include:

  • creating theoretical models
  • creating  opinion polls for private companies, media and political parties
  •  setting up of statistical sampling

The information sociologists gather is used to help form public policy developed by legislators, educators and similar individuals. Among the policies that research by a sociologist can help shape are those involving:

  • crime
  • education
  • health
  • race relations
  • families
  • gender
  • poverty
  • aging

What Type of Education is Required?

The University of California Berkeley suggests that a broad liberal arts education provides an essential basis for anyone who wishes to become a sociologist. Suggested coursework covers topics such as:

  • social problems
  •  statistics
  • research methods
  • psychology
  • sociology of work, professions, bureaucracy
  • cultural diversity
  • gender
  • sex.

To advance as a sociologist, students should pursue a master’s degree, which requires an additional one to three years of study. The Human Services Education Organization notes that the average median salary for sociologists with a master’s degree is $72,360.

Careers in Sociology

Those interested in becoming a sociologist generally find jobs in four main areas:

  • social services
  • social science research
  • counseling
  • sales and marketing

Social services have many different types of jobs, including welfare and rehabilitation case managers and child life specialists. Those who pursue work in counseling must complete additional coursework in psychology. Social science research is a niche career that involves the development of research models and theories along with the interpretation of data. Individuals who prefer to work in the private sector often perform similar research on behalf of the sales and marketing departments of large corporations.

Whatever career path students choose to take, students must have a well-rounded education. To be a sociologist, one needs a wide understanding of all aspects of human nature.

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