What Do Sociologists Do? Explore the Dynamics of This Rewarding Profession

Broadly speaking, sociology is the study of human relationships. Within this frame, the professional applications of sociology can differ greatly from career to career, allowing you to make a lasting difference in an area that fits your passion.

A sociologist conducts an assessment with child during counseling session.

So, what exactly do sociologists do? The answer isn’t all that simple, as they perform a host of tasks in a variety of environments. At the most basic level, though, sociologists improve communities and lives through their work. This may happen through research projects that address issues of social concern, or through analyzing data that tracks societal changes. Sociologists may collaborate with one another and with other professionals in related fields, synthesizing their observations and experiences. Or, they may work directly with the populations they aim to help, advocating for them and helping provide essential services.

A degree in sociology, like the one offered online from Maryville University, can prepare you for meaningful work in education, law, healthcare, criminal justice, community service, and organizations where you can shape public policy or solve complex human problems. Sociologists are focused on creating positive change. They study social issues, work with diverse communities, and collaborate with others on a wide range of topics that can truly affect the lives of the people around them. There’s no doubt it’s a challenging field, but it can be an excellent path if you have a passion for creating positive change in the world.

What Sociologists Do in the Workplace

There are seemingly endless career possibilities for sociologists today. The skills you can gain while pursuing your degree are applicable to a huge number of professional paths. Some of the topics sociologists often study include:

Making a Difference Locally and Globally

As the nonprofit sector continues to grow, sociology majors find more and more opportunities to put their ethics to work. Many students of sociology ultimately want to do work that is meaningful to them. This sort of passion, when combined with the technical abilities gained through formal classroom training, often make graduates with this degree stand out from the pack when it comes to job openings in nonprofits and non-governmental organizations. As a sociologist, you have the opportunity to make the world a better place by understanding and identifying social problems, brainstorming possible solutions, and helping implement them. As you work to spark change, you might have job titles like environmental organizer, housing coordinator, career counselor, and outreach worker.

Educating Families on Public Health

After earning your bachelor’s degree or continuing to build on your sociology studies at the graduate level, you may find work in the field of public health. Public health professionals aim to ensure that communities have the resources, knowledge, and abilities necessary to lead healthy lives. Whether working in an administrative capacity or directly with the public, what sociologists do is incredibly valuable, and many find rewarding and profitable jobs where they’re able to help families improve their lives and communities to thrive.

Sociologists’ ability to collaborate effectively on teams, communicate clearly, assess problems, and develop creative solutions quite often make them adept at various roles under the umbrella of public health. In this particular field, you might work on projects related to education, public policy, administration and management, environmental health, or behavioral issues. As a sociologist, you may often be tasked with juggling a number of statistics, historic records, and original research, which is why the ability to synthesize complex data, think critically, and communicate well are all very important — and why they are all a significant part of your online sociology degree program

Advocating for Underserved Populations

Many communities benefit from the presence of sociologists who provide advocacy and social justice services. Nonprofit organizations work to rally resources and support staff, assisting with everything from healthcare to workers rights to family planning. With so many avenues available, it’s a matter of finding the causes that you’re most passionate about and leveraging your education to make a true difference. For example, social and community service managers, who face a growing need, help supervise programs that provide services in education, housing, mental health, unemployment, and more.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, sociologists who work in this capacity also tend to have on-the-ground experience within their area of interest. For example, if you’re interested in managing social justice programs that cater to the needs of couples who want to adopt a child, you’ll likely spend time directly serving those individuals. From there, your experience will allow you to eventually step into a management role, where you’ll also track the effectiveness of programs, make adjustments as needed, report on progress, and ensure the proper people are in place to deliver services. With an anticipated 18% job growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this is a rewarding career path that shows no signs of slowing down.

Conducting Criminology Research

Criminology is its own distinct branch of social science that examines crime, criminal behavior, treatment, and punishment. Sociologists who have an interest in criminology often engage with the theoretical elements of the study, such as the social conditions that speak to who commits crimes and why.

The criminal justice system in the United States is vast and complex, so there is a need for individuals who are capable of analyzing the raw data and can use savvy interpretation skills to provide insights and creative solutions. Sociology students often find they have all the competencies required to contribute important research to this field. They may conduct this research in all manners of settings — from nonprofit organizations to universities and government planning agencies.

Help Advocate for a Better World

The field of sociology has many diverse applications, and as a student who earns a sociology degree, you may specialize in areas that are more in line with your passions. Working in a field that resonates with you means you’re apt to stay highly motivated because you truly care about the work you’re doing. Increasingly, jobs in sociology take on broad public issues and examine them with the principles that stem from its foundations: empirical research, critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving. And although the work is very much rooted in the facts, as a sociologist, you’ll be able to apply research in meaningful ways to the benefit of the people, community, and world around you.

Due to its incredible versatility, a sociology degree can open a host of doors in a variety of different areas that have the potential to make a positive impact on every level. What else do sociologists do? Discover for yourself by learning more about the online Bachelor of Arts in Sociology program at Maryville University.

Sources:

American Sociological Association, What Do Sociologists Do?

Health Affairs, “The Role of Sociology in Health Affairs”

John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies Nonprofit Economic Data, “Nonprofit Rate of Job Growth Outpaces For-Profit Rate By Over 3-1 Last Decade”

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers