What is a Sociologist?

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

See our ranking of the 30 Best Bachelor’s in Sociology Online Degrees.

Where Do Sociologists Work?

Many people who study sociology become high school instructors or college professors and teach the subject and its methodologies to future gene3rations. Many others, though, work as researchers in a wide range of organizations that include colleges and universities, non-profit think tanks, governmental bodies and 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 or 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 the creation of theoretical models; creation of opinion polls for private companies, media and political parties; and setting up of statistical sampling.

The information gathered by sociologists 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 and 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, social, statistics, research methods and psychology along with the sociology of work, professions, bureaucracy, cultural diversity, gender and 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 or 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 the forces that comprise human nature.

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