As a sociologist you will study society and social behavior. But where you work may be just as important to you as what you do. With just 4,000 jobs in the U.S. as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sociologists are concentrated in a couple of industries and work mostly in a few geographic areas.
As of 2010, 36 percent of sociologists worked in research and development in the social sciences, making this area the largest employer of sociologists. This industry includes private and public organizations such as think tanks or research institutes, but does not include market research organizations. Schools were the second largest employer of sociologists, providing 30 percent of all jobs. After these two fields there's a big drop with 7 percent of sociologists employed in research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences. Another 6 percent of sociologist are employed by local governments excluding education and hospitals.
California is by far the largest employer of sociologists, employing 880 of them as of 2011. Pennsylvania, with 290 positions, is the second biggest state for sociologists. Michigan employs 240 sociologists, the District of Columbia has 220 and Washington State employs 170.
Top Metropolitan Areas
Philadelphia is the metropolitan area with the highest number of sociologists at 250. The Washington, Arlington and Alexandria area surrounding Washington D.C. is the next largest employer of sociologists, with 230. Ann Arbor, Michigan employs 180 sociologists, while the San Francisco, San Mateo and Redwood City area of California is home to 160 sociologists.
Sociologists can expect higher than average job growth, but this won't necessarily result in great job prospects. While all occupations are expected to see a 14 percent increase between 2010 and 2020, the increase for sociologists is expected to be 18 percent. This may make the job prospects seem good, but according to the BLS there is stiff competition for jobs, with many people studying it compared to the small number of jobs available.
Work in Other Fields
Not all people who study sociology work as sociologists. Due to the stiff competition for jobs, many seek work in other fields. The BLS notes that those with a bachelor's and master's degree in sociology, may need to seek related work outside of the sociologist's field. Many become survey researchers, statisticians, policy analysts and demographers.
M. Scilly is a writer and editor who writes for various online publications, specializing in business and management. He has a fondness for travel and photography. In his free time he enjoys marathon training.