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Sociologists study human societies. They investigate all types of societies, from Girl Guide units to Jamaican high school students to battered women to Mayans living in inner city Lima, Peru. They monitor social patterns of inequality and oppression, how people interact with one another and with society as a whole, and they follow social change, looking for answers about human behavior.

They use the information they gather for a number of purposes. Some may work for the government, and research the history of unions and union members in the US, and the government will use this information when deciding to renegotiate contracts. A sociologist working in a prison may interview prisoners about gang behavior, and make suggestions about where to house inmates from different neighborhoods. A sociologist working for a family planning center may study changes in family lifestyles and education to explain why an increasing number of adolescents have unplanned pregnancies.

Sociologists can work anywhere there are people making choices, reacting to global change, and living and working in communities. They influence urban planning, education systems, laws and government policy. Sociologists watch us closely, and theorize about us, our development, our behaviors, and our life choices. The theories they come up with can affect us profoundly.

Because human behavior is such a huge and ungainly thing, sociologists often specialize in a field. They may concentrate on marriage and family; law; crime and punishment; gender roles; politics; and movements, like the women's movement and the peace movement. By specializing, a sociologist becomes an expert in that field. It also makes it easier to move on to other fields of work, like family counseling, where they can apply the knowledge they gained through studying human behaviors to the subjects, themselves.
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  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career in sociology? Sociologists must be interested in human behavior, how we interact with one another, and how cultures differ from each other. They should be organized, thorough and methodical researchers who are able to communicate well both verbally and on paper. They should be open-minded, and able to think about society critically, setting aside their own belief systems in order to analyze their subjects objectively and without prejudice.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Teach students
  • Consult with colleagues
  • Conduct studies, polls, and experiments
  • Examine people in their everyday environments
  • Research human behavioral patterns, using diaries, interviews, and statistics
  • Present research conclusions in reports, essays, and lectures
  • Outline plans for governments, organizations, and activist groups
  • A sociologist's day will consist of a lot of research, poring over interview transcripts, statistics, consumer reports, and experiment results. They will meet with many people, including colleagues, representatives from community groups, people from various cultures, librarians, government officials, and students. The meetings may be for research purposes, but also to tell about the studies.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Since they can apply their talents and knowledge in a number of environments, sociologists can be found working just about everywhere. The most common locations are universities and colleges, in classrooms, libraries, and computer laboratories; government agencies like family planning clinics, correctional institutions, community development initiatives, and immigration offices; corporate offices doing market research or labor relations; counseling clinics; and in law enforcement. Sociologists may get the chance to work outside, if research demands it, and they may spend part of their research time in retirement homes, immigrant communities, and sports arenas. They may travel to places for conferences and workshops. Sometimes have to travel to gather information in the field. They may have regular hours, or work evenings and weekends if trying to meet a deadline.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Sociologists can do pretty much anything they want to. Their training has made them ideal candidates for administrative work, counseling, corrections work, government agencies like family planning clinics, gerontology work, community development, and immigration; law enforcement, teaching, and social work.

  Educational Paths  
Sociologists are academic scientists, which means they spend many years in training. The minimum requirement for sociology-related work is a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in sociology. These programs may include an internship component. With this minimal amount of schooling, a sociologist can work in a college or find work in the private sector, or work for government agencies. But anyone who wants to work in universities as a professor needs a PhD.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
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  • MAR: Homiletics
  • And more...

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