What Are the Challenges of Being a Sociologist?

Sociologists study how people get along -- or don't -- and examine the complex relationships that people create on family, community and institutional levels. It's an undoubtedly interesting field with nearly limitless potential. On top of this, they earn a median annual wage of $72,360 per year as of 2010. But a sociologist's career comes with challenges. Before pursuing it yourself, consider at least a few of them.

Job Competition

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sociology is a popular field of study, but it has comparatively few job opportunities. In fact, as of 2010, there were only 4,000 sociologist jobs in the United States. While this number is expected to increase to 4,800 by 2020 this still means that sociologists can expect stiff competition when looking for work.


    A sociology career has high barriers to entry. In all likelihood,you will need a master's degree or a Ph.D. in sociology to find a job. If you only get a bachelor's degree in sociology, you may find work, but it's likely to be as a research assistant or outside the sociology field. So, if you really want to pursue a career as a sociologist, you had better be prepared to spend several years getting an advanced degree.


    Sociologists need to be educated, but they also need to have skills that aren't learned in the classroom. Sociologists need to be excellent critical thinkers to design studies and analyze information. They also need to have strong analytical skills, allowing them to interpret data. Finally, sociologists need to be excellent problems solvers, capable of tackling sociological problems. If you don't possess these skills, they are difficult to learn and you're unlikely to succeed as a sociologist.

Balancing Work

    Sociologist must fill several different roles in their work. They need to design research projects, collect data and analyze data. And this is only the research side of the job. Sociologists also need to prepare reports and provide advice to clients and policy makers. With so many different roles, it can be difficult for a sociologist to balance them all.

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