Careers for Sociology Majors

This page has a variety of resources about career options for sociology majors. It was created by sociology undergraduate interns in Spring 2019. To start we suggest watching the video on Careers for Sociology Majors, also created by PSU sociology interns:

Table of Contents:

Why should I study sociology?

What experiences as an undergraduate will help me get a job?

Examples of jobs you can get with a BA or BS in sociology

Where to look for jobs

What is networking and why is this important?

How to write a cover letter

How to write a résumé

How to prepare for you interview

Tips on how to interview

Informational Interviews

Salary Negotiation

Resources

Why should I study sociology?

Sociology is the study of life, change, causes, and consequences of human behavior along with the structure of groups, organizations, and societies and how people interact within these contexts. A major in sociology can help you hone in skills that aid in influencing generational change -- structurally, communally, nationally, and internationally! Studies of sociology include social issues concerning: gender, sexualities, family, race, religion, class, mental health, social movements, and more which can allow you to maximize your personal interests and your degree.

What experiences as an undergraduate will help me get a job?

Being involved in the community on and off campus can help you get a job following graduation. Volunteering, participating in clubs, interning, and working other positions can help with networking and also look good on a résumé. There are many ways to get involved on campus. You can volunteer at events, look for a part-time job on campus or even join the Sociology Club. You should also take time to get to know the faculty in your department. Go visit your professors during office hours and introduce yourself and let them know a little about you. Getting to know your professors can open up more opportunities for you. For example, you may be able to help a professor with research they're doing. You can also ask professors who've you had multiple classes with to be a reference for you. Sociology courses help you improve on job-relevant skills like making an evidence based argument, identifying ethical issues, evaluating strengths and weaknesses of various research methods, analyzing data, understanding inequalities, and work with people that may differ from you in race, ethnicity, class or gender. 

Examples of jobs you can get with a BA or BS in sociology

Finding a job can be overwhelming! It's difficult to know where to start looking and how to narrow down your search. A good way to start is to find an organization of interest to you. Idealist.org is a website compiled of organizations to help you narrow your search. After choosing an organization, visit their website and check out the "us" or "staff" page with the people working for the organization. From here you can read about what their positions are in the company and if you could see yourself working in one department/position instead of another. Also, reaching out to the people working for the organization is a great way to network. Letting someone from the organization know you are interested in working with them for whatever cause they are working toward is a great segue into setting up an informational interview. 

Jobs held by recent PSU graduates with a Bachelor's degree is sociology 

  • Amazon -- Technical Recuiter
  • Clackamas Community College -- Workforce Advisor
  • Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington -- Curriculum Specialist
  • Domestic Violence Resource Center -- Services Coordinator
  • Dungarvin -- Skills Trainer
  • Energy Trust of Oregon -- Program Coordinator
  • Metropolitan Family Services -- Data and Continuous Improvement Coordinator
  • Options Counseling & Family Services -- Family Builder
  • Oregon Voice -- Civic Engagement and Data Associate
  • Outward Bound -- Pacific Office Automation -- Contract Administrator
  • Positive Behavior Solutions -- Analyst
  • Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls -- Community Engagement Manager
  • WA Child Protective Services -- FAR worker

Brief description of jobs relevant to sociology majors

  • Technical Recruiter: Specializes in identifying good candidates for job psoitons in the technology industry. Typically works for the Human Resources department for a company, private or public.
  • Employment and Placement: Specializes in the hiring process of future employees and placement into needed areas.
  • Services and Program Coordinator: Focuses on performance and systems management: Monitors the performance and growth of the company and its employees. Routinely analyzes systems the company and its employees utlilize in terms of productivity for the company, its employees, and its clients. Typically work in the healthcare field and education for business organizations. 
  • Probation and Parole Officer: there are additional certification for this position. All information on becoming a Probation and Parole Officer in the state of Oregon can be found on: https://probationfofficeredu.org/oregon/
  • Community Engagement Officer: Typically works for a company in the health service quadrant, focuses on fostering relationships with the community, stakeholders and corporate supporters with promotion of increased engagement and fundraising at the forefront. Coordinates events that benefit the target population of the company's services and organizes activities; being a vanguard in the community setting. This job is necessary for public, private, and non-profit organizations, as a company's marketing is vital in funding for its functioning. 
  • Data and Continuous Involvement Coordinator: Managing client relations software. This includes report building and data gathering and analysis. 
  • Management and Policy Analyst: Raise public awareness of different social issues. This involves research and analyzing current policies. You will also evaluate findings and conduct reports. 
  • Youth Wilderness Instructor: If you love the outdoors, mentoring young adults, and embody a healthy lifestyle, this job is for you. The young adults in these program suffer from various behavioral and/or psychological trauma, abuse, drugs, etc. Duties include: getting to know the students, teaching safety and outdoor skills: cooking, fire making, tent building, various team activities to promote social growth within the group of young adults, daily hiking to various spots in the wilderness. Emphasis on teaching and guiding with positive leadership. 
  • Guidance Counselor: Works in an educational setting to guide students' academic, behavioral and social growth. Guidance counselor positions are found in: elementary, middle and high schools.
  • Family Assistance Response Worker: Provide resources for families in need. Circumstances can be divorce, food insecurity, healthcare coverage. As a family assistance worker, you may be helping a family enroll their child in counseling, obtain food stamps, providing resources for family/group therapy. 
  • Family Builder: Helping families in need with a multitude of things. Setting appointments with clients and working with them on skill building, budgeting, organizational skills, child development etc. This can vary case by case and typically you get to create your schedule. 
  • Research Assistant: Help design, administer and monitor clinical trails. Once the trail is over they will also help review evaluated data gathered. You will also put together reports about the research done. you will also be responsible for ensuring that protocols are followed during trails.
    Librarian: Librarians are responsible for managing staff, technical sercies and administrative services. You are responsible for ensure that that public library system is easy to use and meets the needs of the public. 
  • Teacher: As a teacher you can teach a variety of subjects. You will create lesson plans that adhere to schools policies and teach them to your students. You will track students progress throughout the class. Administer tests. You'll interact with parents and other teachers. Depending on school level your're teaching you may have other responsibilities like administrative work or committee work. 

Where to look for jobs

Technology is playing a larger role in our means of communication; job searches are impacted more so than previous years. Most people tend to find jobs through electronic job search engines like Handshake, Indeed, Glassdoor and Craigslist. The traditional methods of networking and word of mouth still remain important means of gaining employment. Listed below are seveal links to aid in your electronic job search. 

What is networking and why is it important?

Networking can be a very important and useful skill to have as you work towards your career goals. By creating connections and relationships within your network or field you open up more opportunities for advancement. As a sociology student, you could connect with your professors and peers on networking sites and in person. 

The most popular networking site is LinkedIn. It has multiple functions. you can add connections to people you know and have worked with. You can also look for jobs and potential employers can view your account and offer you jobs as well. You start by creating an account and add information about school, jobs, volunteering, and internships. You can also add the skills you have and people you can attest to them can endorse said skills. You can also have people write recommendations for you. It allows you to engage in groups and put yourself out there. Overall, it's a very useful tool that can connect you with more opportunities. 

Here are some links with information about why networking is important and tips on how to do it. 

How to write a cover letter

Having a well written cover letter is a vital aspect of your job search. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and let a prospective employer know what job you are looking for and why you are qualified for the position. Here are a few helpful links to reference when preparing your cover letter. You can also utilize the PSU Career Center to help with building and reviewing your cover letter. 

How to write a resume

In addition to creating your cover letter, you'll also need to create your resume. Your resume will provide an employer with a snapshot of what your skills and abilities are. It provides them with information about your work history and experiences. If you need help with creating and reviewing your resume you can utilize the PSU Career Center. In addition, here are some helpful links with examples of how to creat a resume. 

Below are examples of appropriate vocabulary for your short, bulleted sentences beneath your work and internship experience section of your resume.

  • "Achieved..."
  • "Thorough (...attention to detail")
  • "Developed..."
  • "Collaborated..."
  • "Provided..."
  • "Dependable (employee)"
  • "Utilized..."
  • "Communicated..."
  • "Contributed..."
  • "Personalized..."
  • "Advised..."
  • "Mentored..."
  • "Lead..."
  • "Demonstrated..."
  • "Taught..."
  • "Budgeted..."
  • "Funded..."

Example of Internship Section of resume:

Portland State University

Sociology Department Intern - Spring 2019

  • Coordinated an informational panel with undergraduate PSU alumni to help sociology students network, gather ideas for post grads, and harness a greater understanding of what jobs and what field they can work with before entering the workforce.
  • Updated sociology department resources on careers for sociology majors, including website resources, a video, and a one page handout.

How to prepare for your interview

Job interviews help prospective employers assess what an interviewee would bring to a company, and offer prospective employees an opportunity to learn about the position at hand, as well as showcase their skills and ambitions. Preparation entails tasks like researching the company and knowing why you are interested in the position, being familiar with your own resume and job history, and practicing common interview questions beforehand. Other tips include asking questions about the position, writing thank you letters following the interview, and to always bring multiple copies of your resume, as well as a pen and notebook to the interview. The Career Center department at PSU hosts monthly workshops that help students practice interviews, networking, and writing resumes and cover letters. Check out the link for more information and to see upcoming workshops. https://www.pdx.edu/careers/events

Tips on how to interview

During your interivew you should use the STAR method to tell stories. The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. 

The STAR method

Situation: Describe the event or situation that you were in.

Task: Explain the task you had to complete

Action: Describe the specific actions you took to complete the task. 

Result: Close with the result of your efforts. 

You also want to encure that you are friendly, kind, respectful, and truthful. Ask your own questions and be engaged. 

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are a useful tool in your job search as they allow you to see a day in the life of the person you are interviewing. It can also be a means of practicing and prepaing yourself to ensure smooth and successful future interviews. The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about a position or an organization, not to interview for an open position (although it might later lead to that). You can find out what someone's job entails and how they feel about the organization or company and the work environment. In this interview you ask general questions about the job, the culture of the workplace and the specific company you are seeking. This can help you decide if it's and organization you want to work for or a job that you would be interesting in doing. Below are some links to help master informational interviews. 

Salary Negotiation

Here are some tips for negotiating for a desired salary. Start by knowing your value. Be willing to stand behind what you are worth. Be prepared and know the typical pay of and the responsibilities of the job. Start with the highest salary because it will most likely be negotiated down. Know the exact number you are seeking. Use specific amounts like $45, 750 instead of $46,000. Make sure you are willing to stand behind what you are seeking and if you can't find an agreeable salary then walk away. When asking for a raise make sure the timing is right. 

Other helpful resources for job interviews:

Resources

 

 

  • American Sociological Association
  • ASA is the national organization for sociologists that focuses on expanding the discipline and serving the public.