The majority of sociologists teach in colleges and universities. Some sociologists work for agencies of the federal government. In such agencies, their work lies largely in research, though they may also serve their agencies in an advisory capacity. Some sociologists are employed by private research organizations and nonprofits, and some work in management consulting firms. Sociologists also work with various medical groups and with physicians. Some sociologists are self-employed, providing counseling, research, or consulting services.
Many sociologists find their first jobs through the career services offices of their colleges and universities. Some are placed through the professional contacts of faculty members. A student in a doctorate program will make many connections and learn about fellowships, visiting professorships, grants, and other opportunities.
Those who wish to enter a research organization, industrial firm, or government agency should apply directly to the prospective employer. If you have been in a doctorate program, you should have research experience and publications to list on your resume, as well as assistantships and scholarships.
Sociologists who become college or university teachers may advance through the academic ranks from instructor to full professor. Those who like administrative work may become a head of a department. Publications of books and articles in journals of sociology will assist in a professor's advancement.
Those who enter research organizations, government agencies, or private business advance to positions of responsibility as they acquire experience. Salary increases usually follow promotions.
Tips for Entry
Sociology students who plan to become college teachers should subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education (https://chronicle.com) to learn about trends in higher education and to access job listings.
To learn more about the field, read:
- American Sociological Review (https://www.asanet.org/research-and-publications/journals/american-sociological-review)
- Teaching Sociology (https://www.asanet.org/research-and-publications/journals/teaching-sociology)
- Journal of Applied Social Science (https://journals.sagepub.com/home/jax)
Conduct information interviews with sociologists and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.
Join the American Sociological Association (ASA) and other professional associations to take advantage of training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities. Members of the ASA receive access to job listings, discounts on publications and conferences, networking opportunities, and other resources.