Although some college majors seek to prepare students for a particular career,
sociology does not. Instead, liberal arts majors like sociology emphasize
general skills that are useful in many occupations. Such skills include writing,
oral communication, critical thinking, and interpersonal relations. When
students study sociology they not only strengthen these liberal arts skills;
they also develop a better understanding of human behavior, become better
able to see how broader contexts shape events, and learn how to conduct and
Broadly educated graduates who possess general skills such as these are
well positioned to succeed in almost any career. They tend to advance more
rapidly, because advancement depends more on ability to think, communicate,
and get along with people than it does on technical know-how. Broadly educated
graduates also tend to be more flexible and adaptable. A broad education
provides a type of insurance, in that it makes it easier to change careers
later in life.
All college majors have strengths and weaknesses. As noted above, a major
strength of sociology is that it prepares you for a whole range of careers
rather than any career in particular. This also is a major weakness of sociology
as a major. Employers expect college graduates to have general skills, but
they also expect them to have knowledge and skills specific to the job. Generally,
these specifics must be obtained outside the sociology major-through minors
or second majors, volunteer or part-time work, participation in organizations,
and so forth. For this reason, sociology majors should think carefully and
often about career preparation. They should discuss their career plans with
persons working in the career field and with their adviser on a regular basis.
By devoting attention to career preparation, sociology majors can escape
the limitations of the major and still reap its benefits.
For more information about careers and career preparation, take advantage
of the resources of the Career
Services Center at SCSU. Career Services Center is especially useful when you still are uncertain about
which career field you want to enter. The Center offers career counseling as well
as interest tests to help you narrow your career choice. is especially useful after you have decided upon a career direction. It offers
seminars and lots of information about employers, jobs, job seeking skils, and internships..
Sociology majors obtain jobs in a variety of government, nonprofit, and
business organizations. Many enter human service jobs in areas such as corrections,
gerontology, social welfare, or counseling. Others obtain positions in business
organizations, especially in management, sales, and human resources. Still
others pursue careers in research, education, or other professions.
Your employment opportunities as a sociology major will depend upon which
career field you seek to enter and how much attention you devote to career
preparation. In general, employment opportunities for sociology majors are
very good. After all, the job market for college graduates has been strong,
and sociology majors have skills that employers value.
Unfortunately, many employers do not realize how well qualified you are
for the positions that they have available. To reach your full potential,
you must aggressively market yourself to employers. You must become familiar
with their needs, and you must be able to demonstrate to them that you have
the qualities that meet these needs. You should begin this process well in
advance of graduation. By researching your future career in your sophomore
and junior years, you can learn which skills employers look for in the college
graduates that they hire. Once you know this, you can seek out activities
that demonstrate your mastery of these skills. For example, if employers
want people who have good leadership skills, you could obtain a leadership
position in a student organization and successfully complete a project. If
employers want people with good research skills, you could look for opportunities
to assist in or conduct research in your classes or in organizations such
as the St. Cloud State Survey. If you take the time to do this, you will
have a strong resume by the time you graduate.
Although the job market for sociology majors is generally strong, demand
and salaries are higher in some career fields than others. For example, SCSU
sociology majors who have combined sociology with a second major or minor
in a more technical field, such as computer science or statistics, have had
a great deal of success. Graduates of technical programs often have weaker
communication and interpersonal skills than do sociology majors. People who
are strong in both areas are very marketable. A person with a sociology major
alone, however, would have difficulty obtaining an entry-level job in these
areas. This again shows why it is important to devote some attention to career
preparation well before graduation. Your career opportunities will depend
upon your minor or second major. If you know what kinds of credentials employers
expect, you can make sure that you choose a supporting program of study that
gives you these credentials.
When you become a sociology major, your adviser will provide you with a
copy of Careers in Sociology, published by the American Sociological Association.
This brochure describes career opportunities in sociology at the BA, MA,
and PhD level, and it provides profiles of sociologists who are working in
several types of career.
Where can I find out more about sociology?
The web site of the American Sociological Association contains a great deal of information about sociology that is of interest to students. Two programs that may be of special interest to students seeking a professional career in sociology are the ASA Honors Program and the ASA Minority Fellowship Program.
Many other sociology organizations have websites. Here are a few that you may want to visit. Some of these have discussion groups in which you can participate.
The following websites are more comprehensive in scope. They provide a broad range of links related to sociology.