When you ask children what they’d like to be when they grow up, you can easily predict their answers: doctor, lawyer, teacher, or even astronaut. Chances are you’d rarely come across someone who dreams of becoming a Sociologist. The exemption doesn’t apply to me either – I used to come up with all sorts of stories as a kid because I wanted to be a writer.
So when I first studied Sociology, I wondered what kind of job I’d get with this seemingly uncommon discipline.
Three years after I graduated, I found myself jumping from one job to another easily, thanks to the flexibility granted by a degree in Sociology.
So let’s answer the big question: when it comes to building your career, what can you get out of Sociology?
Skills that Sociology develops
The university of Manchester has done a great job of explaining the two skill sets you can gain when you pursue Sociology.
Of course, it goes without saying that with great study habits and dedication, you’ll have these Sociological skills:
- “the ability to describe, explain and investigate social and organisational systems and structures, helping you to propose changes to such arrangements in various contexts, such as within government, industry, charities, communities, organisations and so on;
- an appreciation of the contemporary organisation of society and individual life, which works through examination of connections between individual behaviour and social structures at national and global levels, helping you to understand the contexts in which organisations must operate and the life choices that families and individuals must make in today’s world;
- a sensitivity to and understanding of the causes of inequalities and injustices that are embedded in contemporary societies locally, nationally and globally
- a critical disposition towards culture, built from theories and from working with qualitative and quantitative data, helping you to understand how cultural trends and ways of organising society have developed, are enacted and how they might change in future.”
Transferable skills are the practical ones you can use in almost any kind of job, whether it’s directly related to Sociology or not:
- “strong written and oral communication skills;
- the ability to understand complex ideas and apply these to practical situations;
- research and analytical skills, including the ability to conduct interviews, surveys, focus groups and interpret and challenge numerical data and statistics;
- the ability to use evidence and logic to construct a good argument;
- the ability to plan, organise and carry out a complex research project.”
That’s quite a handful of skills to include in your resume, amirite? If you’re planning to write those skills down in your CV, Prospects UK has provided a condensed version below:
- “appreciating the complexity and diversity of social situations
- applying sociological theory to society’s organisations, including schools, hospitals and offices
- researching, judging and evaluating complex information
- making reasoned arguments
- knowledge and understanding of research methods, analysis and statistical techniques
- developing opinions and new ideas on societal issues
- working collaboratively
- the ability to understand, scrutinise and re-assess common perceptions of the social world
- relating sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy
- organising work and meeting deadlines.”
Finding the Right Job
I believe “right” is highly subjective.
I’ve seen many sites which pinpoint the industries and fields that are relevant to Sociology, but take it from me: you don’t have to (necessarily) stick with what’s compatible with your discipline. Take that, functionalists and conformity!
Kidding aside, take heed of my advice, though. After all, you can’t simply apply for an Engineering job because that skills needed there are not provided by Sociology, neither can you get a post as a Train Operator (unless you have a second degree or certifications in those jobs I’ve mentioned).
When I started job-hunting online, I didn’t use “social researcher” nor “sociologist” as my keywords. What I’m saying with my advice is that you need to focus on the skills needed to accomplish the work, not the job title itself. At work, you’ll experience going beyond what’s expected of you – and that includes undergoing tasks that are not included in your listed job responsibilities.
So when you search for working opportunities, don’t just stop with the job title. Scan the job description and see whether your skills in Sociology can help you make the cut.
Job Resources for Sociology Students
If you’re unsure of your future in Sociology, you’re not alone! Besides this post, there are various pages on the web that will give you an idea of what’s in store for someone with a Socio degree. Here are some recommendable sites to get started. Good luck!
- American Sociological Association – Careers in Sociology
- The Australian Sociological Association – Careers in Sociology
- Discover Sociology – Open Doors with a Sociology Degree
- International Sociological Association – Junior Sociologists Network
P.S. If you’re curious as to where Sociology took me, I’m currently a copywriter in a financial services company. 😉