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Careers in Sociology

Job Opportunities

According to a study conducted by the American Sociological Association, students who obtained degrees in sociology are now gainfully employed across a number of fields which broadly fall into five main categories.  These include: social services, clerical/administrative support, education, business, and social science research.  A description of the types of jobs available and a list of potential employers in the Houston area are provided for each category below. 

As you begin a job search, you should first consult with University Career Services (UCS).  They provide a range of services to students and recent alumni to aid in the process of looking for a job.  These include vocational assessments, career counseling, a job database, mock interviews, resume workshops, networking events, and on-campus recruitment events.  You can access their services here:http://www.uh.edu/campus-life/career-services/index.php 

Aside from career services, the best places to start looking for a job are online job banks.  However, in order to effectively search for a job using these types of resources, you should not simply use the search term “sociology.”  Rather, your search terms should reflect the knowledge and skill sets that a sociology degree can provide.  For example, these may include search terms such as “social science,” “program assistant,” “diversity,” “data,” “research,” “analysis,” “statistics,” etc.  Also, try searching on the job examples listed under each category.  Below are good online job search banks:

  • CollegeGrad.com – An award-winning website focusing on entry-level jobs
  • Indeed.com – Job search engine
  • SimplyHired.com – Job search engine
  • Idealist.org – Site focuses on the non-profit sector and can be used for locating volunteer opportunities and internships as well as postings for employment
  • Makingthedifference.org/index.shtml – A student-oriented site for locating jobs and internships in the federal government.
  • Ourpublicservice.org/OPS/ -- Partnership for Public Service’s website that provides additional information on applying for federal government jobs.
  • Rileyguide.com/social.html – Riley Guide that includes job postings in the social science fields
  • SocialService.Com – Website to find social service or social work jobs, whether in mental health, substance abuse, children and youth, medical social work, criminal justice, domestic violence, counseling, community organizing and outreach, homelessness or a variety of other human service areas.
  • USAjobs.gov – Main job bank site for federal government jobs

You can read the original employment reports here:

Social Services

These include a variety of positions, typically in the non-profit or government sectors.  This can include direct aid or counseling services, or the coordination of services for individuals or communities.  Most of these jobs are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences or humanities with good oral and written communication and critical thinking skills.  An education in sociology teaches these basic skills.  Further, sociology is focused on understanding how societies function and highlights the various forms of structural inequality and individual-level social problems.  An in-depth understanding of these issues at stake can make for an effective applicant for these types of jobs.

Examples:

  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Law enforcement
  • Criminal justice
  • Probation/parole
  • Judicial affairs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Youth/elderly services
  • Recreation
  • Non-profit agencies
  • Urban planning
  • Childcare
  • Community development
  • Environmental groups
  • Advocacy
  • Family planning
  • Hospital admissions
  • Insurance providers

Education

There are ample opportunities in the field of education for graduates with a degree in sociology at all levels of education.  These include both teaching and educational support.  Most of these types of opportunities will require additional certification, such as a teaching certificate for elementary and secondary education, or a TESOL certification for teaching English as a second language.  However, both of these are easily obtained through certification programs.  The public education sector has recently become more interested in applicants with degrees in a field other than education (especially at the secondary level), and as such, it has become easier for such individuals to obtain the necessary certification.  Sociology majors are qualified to teach a wide variety of courses in the social sciences/social studies.  Also, with the growing importance of English worldwide, there are many opportunities to teach English as a second language both at home and abroad and to both adults and children.

Examples:

  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Special education
  • English as a second language
  • Librarian
  • Teaching assistant/tutor

Business

These opportunities span a wide variety of positions, mostly within the for-profit sector.  Most of these jobs are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree, and require with good oral and written communication and organizational skills.  An education in sociology teaches these basic skills.  Additionally, sociology is particularly useful for work in marketing and human resources as those positions require a greater understanding of human behavior and how to study effectively study it.  Sociology can uniquely provide this skill set.

Examples:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Human resources/personnel
  • Data analysis
  • Public relations
  • Consumer research
  • Training

Social Science Research

Although many higher level research or academic positions require an advanced degree, there are still plenty of opportunities for individuals interested in working in social science research.  One of the readily exportable skills of a degree in sociology are the research methods and statistical skills learned through the required set of courses for the degree in sociology at UH.  These types of positions include jobs in research support and database management, such as university/academic research, government and non-profit program evaluation, and even health research.  Given that Houston is home to the world’s largest medical center and numerous medical research centers, there are replete opportunities in Houston for health research.  Essentially, sociology provides an important skill set for any type of survey, interview, or observational research that involves human populations.

Examples:

  • Research assistant
  • Interviewer/Census taker
  • Database management
  • Professional writing
  • Statistics
  • Research design and implementation

Clerical/Administrative Support

These types of jobs include a wide variety of positions and span all three sectors of the economy—for-profit, non-profit, and government.  Generally, these positions are clerical and include a number of support positions, typically in the office setting.  Most of these jobs are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree, and require with good oral and written communication and organizational skills.  Sociology can help prepare you for these kinds of jobs as sociology teaches these basic skills. 

Examples:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Human resources
  • Paralegal
  • Customer service
  • Database services
  • College admissions and advising
  • Development and fundraising

Examples of Potential employers – Undergraduate