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At a Glance

  • Study the behavior and relationships of groups of people
  • Most work in one or more specialties
  • Have good research and analytical skills
  • May work overtime to meet deadlines
  • Regularly interact with people
  • Have at least a master's degree

Career summary

Sociologists study human society and social behavior.

#No alternate titles

Sociologists study the behavior and relationships of groups of people, including:

Sociologists often design research projects. They may study how a group is formed or how people act within a group. They collect information about people through surveys, interviews, and observations.

After sociologists gather data, they analyze and evaluate it. They prepare reports and other publications that outline their findings and suggest solutions. They may assist lawmakers or other officials who make social policy.

Most sociologists work in one or more specialties. These specialties include:

Some sociologists teach at colleges and universities. They often work with assistants and clerks to process statistical data.

Related careers

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to sociologists.

Common work activities

Sociologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, sociologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Sociologists frequently:

It is important for sociologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for sociologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Sociologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a sociologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Almost all sociologists have a master's degree or higher in sociology. Research assistants usually need only a bachelor's degree. As a student you can study different areas of sociology, such as ethnic relations, family structures, or gender relations. If you plan on doing your own research, you should study math, computers, and statistics. Take courses that help you develop strong research skills.

To teach sociology at a university, you need a doctoral (PhD) degree. Most colleges and universities offer degrees in sociology.

Work experience

Working as a research assistant for a sociologist is good experience for this field.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require at least a master's degree in sociology or a related social science. Colleges or universities require a doctoral degree (PhD). A doctorate is also required for top-level and administrative posts.

Employers prefer applicants who are flexible, orderly, and unbiased.

Costs to workers

Workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Sociologists (SOC 19-3041)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $26.85 $30.06 $36.38 $37.31 $47.86
Monthly $4,653 $5,209 $6,305 $6,466 $8,294
Yearly $55,850 $62,520 $75,670 $77,590 $99,540
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $27.11 $29.16 $32.47 $44.11 $51.66
Monthly $4,698 $5,053 $5,627 $7,644 $8,953
Yearly $56,392 $60,656 $67,538 $91,753 $107,462
United States Hourly $22.20 $30.58 $39.45 $53.21 $67.52
Monthly $3,847 $5,300 $6,837 $9,221 $11,701
Yearly $46,170 $63,610 $82,050 $110,680 $140,430

Pay varies with the worker's field, education level, work setting, and experience. Sociologists who have a doctoral degree (PhD) will earn much more than those with a lower degree.

Sociologists who work full time usually receive benefits. Common benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Sociologists (SOC 19-3041)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 109 12.8% 16.1% 13
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 35 8.6% 14.1% 3
    King County 66 19.7% 19.6% 8
United States 3,000 10.0% 5.2% 400

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be faster than average. Colleges and universities will remain major employers of sociologists. Sociologists will also be able to use their knowledge of society and social behavior to aid companies in product development, marketing, and advertising.

Competition will be strong for sociologist positions. Job prospects are best for those with advanced degrees and experience in applied sociology.

Other resources

American Association for the Advancement of Science (external link)
1200 New York Ave, NW
American Society of Criminology (external link)
1314 Kinnear Road, Suite 212
Columbus, OH 43212
American Sociological Association (external link)
Careers in Sociology (external link)
(from the American Sociological Association)
National Academy of Sciences Interviews (external link)
National Association for Ethnic Studies (external link)
P.O. Box 842542
Richmond, Virginia 23284
National Science Foundation (external link)
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 2231
Social Psychology Network (external link)
Women's and Gender Studies: A Guide to the Collections of The New York Public Library (external link)
Women's Studies/Women's Issues Resource Sites (external link)
This site contains several different areas of women's studies. It also contains links to women's studies programs worldwide.


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster