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Careers in Sociology

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What can you do with a degree in sociology?

Sociology focuses on the study of human behaviour and social interaction to understand how societies are organised, develop and change. By studying sociology, graduates develop skills and knowledge that are much sought after by employers, including:

  • an understanding of social and cultural issues
  • high-quality written and oral communication skills
  • research skills and a capacity for detailed observation
  • the ability to work independently and in groups.

Graduates can also develop more specialised skills and knowledge such as those that are needed for the following types of employment:

  • Work needing understanding of social groups and social processes: such as working with minority and ethnic groups; investigating social issues leading to crime or substance abuse; studying the impact of media and communications; understanding matters such as poverty and the ways it affects young people and families
  • Social research: devising surveys, collecting data, and conducting interviews and fieldwork; including the analysis, interpretation and presentation of the information collected
  • Social policy and planning: community development, cultural resource management, social justice issues, social aspects of health care, multicultural matters.

Where do graduates in sociology work?

Many public and private sector employers hire graduates with social science skills, although the term ‘sociologist’ is not often used in job advertisements. For example:

  • Federal, State and Local governments: generalist graduate entry programs, industrial relations, criminal justice work, policy development and implementation, case management, group work with youth or the elderly, urban planning, administration, migrant and multicultural affairs
  • Community and non-profit organisations: administration, overseas aid and development agencies, social research, policy development, lobbying, environment campaigns
  • Business: consumer/social research, public relations, publishing, journalism, personnel work, training
  • Further study and academic work: Honours, Masters and PhD study, university and TAFE teaching, research assistant work.

Sociology graduates can also do career-specific postgraduate studies such as teaching, social work, health sciences or law.

Some of the jobs recent sociology graduates have taken…

  • Youth worker | Multicultural affairs liaison | Copywriter | Journalist
  • Community project officer | Development officer | Age & disability officer
  • Administrative officer | Electorate officer | Personnel administrator | Research assistant
  • Market analyst | Sales office manager | Service adviser | Client service manager

Examples of projects sociology graduates have worked on…

  • analysing the historical, political and economic basis of terrorism (Department of Defence)
  • improving communication between members of the health care team (Department of Health)
  • investigating community attitudes to genetically modified crops (Department of Agriculture)
  • evaluating a project to build financial literacy among at-risk young people (for a national charity)
  • building communities through participation in the arts (with a community theatre group)

Sociology careers web sites:

  • TASA: The Australian Sociological Association
  • ASA: American Sociological Association: ‘Careers in Sociology’
  • DEEWR: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  • BSA: Opportunities for Sociologists
  • Graduate Careers Australia

For inspiration – Life after the PhD: 8 inspiring post-PhD interview websites

If you are a high school student interested in a career in sociology, please click here