How to Become a Sociologist
Sociologist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Sociologist
Sociologist Salaries
Influential Professionals in the Sociologist Field
Leading Organizations for Sociologists
Top Cities for Sociology Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Sociologist

Most positions in the field of sociology require a very high degree of educational attainment, with a master's degree or a Ph.D. being required by most employers. The possession of a master's degree is usually enough to qualify for positions outside the educational sector, although there may be other requirements, depending on the field of specialization. Higher-level positions will almost always require a Ph.D. While a bachelor's degree is usually not enough to provide the employment opportunities available to sociologists with higher educational achievements, it can still be useful for a wide variety of entry-level jobs in related fields.

In most cases, an extensive background in statistics and mathematics is beneficial for many positions, particularly those that have to do with the different types of research methods. Since the nature of the job is always changing, sociologists would also benefit from computer skills as well as familiarity with the latest developments in their particular area of expertise.

What does a Sociologist do?

The work of a sociologist involves studying different groups, cultures, organizations and social institutions. They are also often called upon to study the various social, religious, political, economic and business activities that people engage in. Sociologists are also often required to study how different groups of people react to such occurrences as the development of technology, health issues, criminal activity and various other social phenomena.

Sociologists employed in educational institutions often have to perform a number of tasks, including classroom instruction, researching, writing and even administrative roles.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Sociologist?

Most sociologists employed in corporate settings typically work regular hours. The job may entail working at a desk for long periods, either by themselves or with other sociologists. They will generally have to be prepared to read and prepare detailed reports and to deal with the pressures that are associated with writing articles on a deadline. You will also have to accept the fact that you may, from time to time, have to work overtime, without any monetary compensation.

Travel is often a requirement of the job, in order to gather information or attend meetings. If you are assigned to a post in a foreign country, you will have to deal with the unfamiliarity of a different culture, climate and language.

In many cases, sociologists are also required to do fieldwork, which may involve traveling to remote areas and even living, for a time, with the community that you are studying. The conditions can be pretty rough and you will, of course, have to learn the language of the people. Strenuous physical activity is also a common part of the job.

How much does a Sociologist make?

In 2006, the average salary of sociologists was estimated at about $60,300. In the government sector, sociologists that had a college degree and no relevant work experience could expect an annual salary of about $28,800 to $35,500, depending on their educational performance. Sociology applicants that had master's degrees earned substantially higher wages, with around $43,000 being the minimum. Those with a Ph.D. could earn substantially more still, with typical salaries beginning at around $53,000 and those with advanced degrees might earn as much as $63,400. In areas of the country where local salary rates are higher, sociologists could expect starting salaries to also be correspondingly higher.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Many if the most influential figures in sociology come from the "Classical" period of the discipline, which lasted from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. Among these early pioneers were Ferdinand Tönnies, Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, Herbert Spencer, Ludwig Gumplowicz, Max Weber and Georg Simmel. Interestingly enough, many of these figures did not view themselves as strictly sociologists, since their body of works also encompassed such disciplines as religion, economics, education, psychology, ethics, law, theology and philosophy. Nevertheless, their teachings have been used as the basis for many sociological theories, as well as numerous other academic disciplines.

Some of the current leading lights in the field of sociology are Zygmunt Bauman, John Shelton Reed and Lord Professor Anthony Giddens.

Zygmunt Bauman is currently emeritus professor at the University of Leeds and also holds the same position at the University of Warsaw. He is one of the leading figures in the sociological area of post modernity.

John Shelton Reed is a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as being affiliated with the National Humanities Center and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has given lectures at over 200 colleges and universities, all over the United States, as well as in other countries and has taught at many academic institutions.

Lord Professor Anthony Giddens is the most eminent British sociologists and is particularly famous for his theories on structuration, as well as his writings on modern societies. He has written more than 30 books throughout his career, many of which have been reproduced in different languages.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Some of the leading sociological organizations in the field are the African Sociological Association or AfSA, the American Sociological Association or ASA, the Australian Sociological Association or TASA, British Sociological Association or BSA and the Brazilian Sociological Society or SBS.

Founded in 1905, the American Sociological Association (ASA) is a non-profit organization located in Washington, DC. It was established with the goal of furthering sociology as a scientific discipline that serves the best interests of the public at large.

ASA currently has more than 14,000 members, with more than 40 special interest groups. The organization holds meetings that are attended by more than 6,000 participants yearly and they are involved in the publication of 10 journals and magazines, covering the various aspects of sociology.

ASA's member organizations include various colleges and university faculties, researchers, students and industry practitioners.

What are the top cities for Sociology jobs?

There were about 18,000 jobs held by social scientists in 2006. Of this number, many were employed as researchers, administrators and counselors for a variety of employers. Less than half of them worked for the federal, state or local government. Other areas where sociologist were employed, included research and development services, management, the scientific and technical services industry; businesses, professional firms, labor and political organizations and architectural and engineering companies.

While the prospects for employment is expected to grow at an average rate, this will vary, depending on the particular field of specialization. Anyone seeking employment as a sociologist can expect to experience a fair degree of competition, with applicants that have higher educational achievements being more likely to gain key positions.

Gloucester is currently the city with the most employment opportunities for sociologists.

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