What Can I Do With Sociology?

One of the most frequent questions students ask about sociology is, “What can I do with a sociology degree?” The answer is that the career potential of sociology majors is almost limitless. Sociologists are employed by research institutes, the criminal justice system, public health and welfare organizations, private businesses, law firms, international agencies, medical centers, educational institutions, advertising firms, survey and polling organizations, and beyond. Students with a bachelor’s degree in sociology often secure employment as social researchers, case workers, paralegals, public relations workers, administrators, community organizers, public policy researchers, and data analysts. Sociology also provides great preparation for going on to law school, medical school, business school, and for graduate degree programs in social work, education, public policy, religious ministry, mass communications, public health, non-profit administration, and international affairs.

Liberal Arts Education for Success in Today’s Economy

The days when young people learned specific technical skills for one lifetime career are long gone. Today’s economy and labor market demand employees who are creative, versatile, and adaptable. The best employers are looking for people who are broadly educated in the kind of critical, analytical, organizational, and communication skills that will enable them to master new tasks and solve new problems many times over throughout their careers. Sociology is exactly the kind of major in which to learn those skills. Sociology offers its students a broad education in critical thinking, analytical problem solving, reasoned judgement, and effective communication. It helps to form its students into a well-rounded person, equipped with valuable intellectual and communication skills and abilities with which to pursue a host of possible vocational callings and careers, and a thoughtful, purposeful life. The issue is not only what you can do with it, but what it does to you. This is the great career advantage of a broad liberal arts college education over a mere technical or professional education at the undergraduate level.

Preparing for Graduate School

Many people share a misconception that graduate professional schools require that applicants have majored in a particular subjects such as politics for law school, or economics for business school. In fact, professional schools value and admit students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many of our recent sociology graduates have gone on to law, medical, and business schools. The critical social awareness and research and analytical skills gained through a sociology major also provide a solid foundation for students planning careers in architecture, urban planning, public health, or education. Of course the sociology major prepares interested undergraduates for graduate studies in sociology, should they choose to continue in the field to become researchers or teachers in either high schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, or research universities. Students interested in receiving general advising about graduate school in the sciences, humanities, social sciences and some professional arenas may use the Pre-Graduate Education Advising Program. More information can be found at Pre-Graduate Advising

Career Advising

Besides discussing their interests and goals with an advisor within the Department of Sociology, students are also encouraged to seek career information and advice from the University Career Services, 211 Hanes Hall; 962-6507.

Resources from the American Sociological Association

Careers in Sociology

ASA Resources for Undergraduate Sociology Majors

Courses for Career Paths

The UNC Department of Sociology does not offer formal minors or concentrations in specific fields (although it is home to the UNC-CH minor in Social and Economic Justice).  However, the Department does offer the following classes especially relevant to these career areas:

• Business and Industry: SOCI 131, 251, 252, 410, 415, 427

• International Affairs and Development: SOCI 380, 420, 439, 450, 453

• Education: SOCI 380, 412, 423

• Law: SOCI 122, 123, 133, 273, 420, 424, 442

• Public Policy: SOCI 133, 251, 252, 273, 412, 414, 415, 420, 422, 424, 429, 431, 468

• Community Service, Organizing, and Advocacy: SOCI 133, 273, 411, 412, 427, 429, 468

• Medicine and Public Health: SOCI 251, 252, 422, 431, 468, 469

Employment Profiles of Sociology 2014 Graduates

Employed: 83%
Unemployed: 11%
Graduate School: 6%
Average Salary: $38,500

AIDS United Americorps
Atlanta Public Schools
Baltimore City Public Schools
Bankers Life and Casualty
Barium Springs Home for Children
Brain Balance Achievement Center
Cape Fear Vocational Services
Capital One Financial Co.
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group
Carlton Hubbard Photography
Carolina College Advising Corp
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
City Year – Los Angeles
City Year Orlando
Client Opinions
College Advising Corps
Durham VA Hospital
Every Nation Ministries
Fulbright Commission
Girl Scouts of America
Google Inc.
Health & Life at Washington National Insurance Company
IBM Corp.
icimo, llc
Jennifer Silk
Kindercare Learning Centers
Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Leo Burnett
North Carolina Democratic Party
Pew Hispanic Research Center
Residential Services Inc.
RTI International
Target Corp.
Teach For America
The American Red Cross
The Asheville School, Inc
The University of Akron
UNC Chapel Hill Medical School
UNC-School of Social Work
United States Army
United States Census Bureau
University of Florida
University of Houston at Clear Lake
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Vegas Weddings
Wake County Schools
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Graduates were surveyed 6 months after graduation; 56% responded to survey.


Class of 2014: Starting Salaries for Social Science Majors Nationwide

Major Mean 25th Percent Median 75th Percent
Economics $49,022 $45,727 $49,514 $52,100
Intl. Relations $41,804 $37,369 $43,388 $43,388
Political Sci. $42,008 $38,603 $40,420 $46,534
Sociology $37,074 $30,555 $35,127 $46,669
Psychology $33,192 $28,936 $32,418 $37,259
Social Work $32,657 $29,847 $32,637 $35,625


Source: Spring 2015 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers. All data are for bachelor’s degree-level graduates.