Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sociologists

sociologists image
Sociologists design research projects to test theories about social issues.
Quick Facts: Sociologists
2020 Median Pay $86,110 per year
$41.40 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 3,200
Job Outlook, 2019-29 4% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 100

Summary

What Sociologists Do

Sociologists study society and social behavior.

Work Environment

Sociologists typically work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Sociologist

Most sociology jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Pay

The median annual wage for sociologists was $86,110 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of sociologists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Sociologists can expect strong competition because sociology is a popular field of study with a relatively small number of positions.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for sociologists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of sociologists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about sociologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Sociologists Do

Sociologists
Some sociologists conduct interviews for their research.

Sociologists study society and social behavior by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that develop when people interact and work together.

Duties

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 and advise other social scientists, policymakers, or other groups on research findings and sociological issues

Sociologists study human behavior, interaction, and organization. They observe the activity of social, religious, political, and economic groups, organizations, and institutions. They examine the effect of social influences, including organizations and institutions, on different individuals and groups. They also trace the origin and growth of these groups and interactions. For example, they may research the impact of a new law or policy on a specific demographic.

Sociologists often use both quantitative and qualitative methods when conducting research, and they frequently use statistical analysis programs during the research process.

Their research may help administrators, educators, lawmakers, and social workers to solve social problems and formulate public policy. Sociologists may specialize in a wide range of social topics, including, but not limited to:

  • education and health;
  • crime and poverty;
  • families and population;
  • and gender, racial, and ethnic relations.

Sociologists who specialize in crime may be called criminologists or penologists. These workers apply their sociological knowledge to conduct research and analyze penal systems and populations and to study the causes and effects of crime.

Many people with a sociology background become postsecondary teachers and high school teachers. Most others find work in related jobs outside the sociologist profession such as policy analysts, demographers, survey researchers, and statisticians.

Work Environment

Sociologists
Sociologists may work outside of an office setting when conducting research through interviews or observations or presenting research results.

Sociologists held about 3,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of sociologists were as follows:

Research and development in the social sciences and humanities 38%
Educational services; state, local, and private 16
State government, excluding education and hospitals 15
Self-employed workers 11

Sociologists typically work in an office. They may work outside of an office setting when conducting research through interviews or observations or presenting research results.

Work Schedules

Most sociologists work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Sociologist

Sociologists
Many sociology programs offer opportunities to gain experience through internships or by preparing reports.

Most sociology jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Many bachelor’s degree holders find positions in related fields, such as social services, education, or public policy.

Education

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

Courses in research methods and statistics are important for candidates in both master’s and Ph.D. programs. Many programs also offer opportunities to gain experience through internships or by preparing reports for clients.

Other Experience

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree may benefit from internships or volunteer work when looking for entry-level positions in sociology or a related field. These types of opportunities give students a chance to apply their academic knowledge in a professional setting and develop skills needed for the field.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Sociologists must be able to examine data and other information, often using statistical methods to test their theories.

Communication skills. Sociologists need strong communication skills when they conduct interviews, collaborate with colleagues, and write and present research results.

Critical-thinking skills. Sociologists design research projects and collect, process, and analyze information to draw logical conclusions about society and various groups of people.

Pay

Sociologists

Median annual wages, May 2020

Sociologists

$86,110

Social scientists and related workers

$82,280

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for sociologists was $86,110 in May 2020. 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 percent earned less than $52,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $143,020.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for sociologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the social sciences and humanities $96,620
State government, excluding education and hospitals 92,530
Educational services; state, local, and private 65,830

Most sociologists work full time during regular business hours.

Job Outlook

Sociologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Social scientists and related workers

4%

Total, all occupations

4%

Sociologists

4%

 

Employment of sociologists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Sociologists will continue to be needed to apply sociological research to other disciplines. For example, sociologists may collaborate with researchers in other social sciences, such as economistspsychologists, and survey researchers, to study how social structures or groups influence policy decisions about health, education, politics, criminal justice, business, or economics.

Job Prospects

Candidates with a Ph.D., strong statistical and research skills, and a background in applied sociology will have the best job prospects. However, Ph.D. holders can expect to face strong competition for sociologist positions because sociology is a popular field of study with a relatively small number of positions.

Employment projections data for sociologists, 2019-29

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Sociologists

SOC Code19-3041
Employment, 20193,200
Projected Employment, 20293,300
Percent Change, 2019-294
Numeric Change, 2019-29100
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of sociologists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Anthropologists and archeologists Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans.

Master's degree $66,130
Economists Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master's degree $108,350
Political scientists Political Scientists

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

Master's degree $125,350
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $80,790
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $82,180
Social workers Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

See How to Become One $51,760
Survey researchers Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Master's degree $59,870
Urban and regional planners Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities.

Master's degree $75,950
Geographers Geographers

Geographers study the Earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants.

Bachelor's degree $85,430
Historians Historians

Historians research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past by studying historical documents and sources.

Master's degree $63,100
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $93,290

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 9, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sociologists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm (visited July 09, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

Permanently disable mobile site