Sociology degree programmes can often be a good way to make a career, but there are certain tasks that can be difficult, and that can often lead to job insecurity.
A recent survey by the UK-based Centre for Applied Research in Sociology (CAPS) revealed that a whopping 88% of sociology degree applicants failed to land a job after completing their programme.
Here’s how to get the most out of a degree.
Find jobs in the field You need to have a relevant job in the industry you want to enter, and to know what it is.
Most of the jobs advertised in a sociology degree are in the social sciences and humanities.
If you want a job in a field that doesn’t interest you, look for other careers in the area.
In the UK, the most popular field for sociology degrees is economics, with a median job offer of £18,000.
The next-most popular is sociology, with an average of £19,000, and history, with £20,000 per year.
In Canada, history is the most commonly advertised field, with $21,000 an offer, while in the US, economics has a median offer of $30,000 and sociology, $35,000 according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.
Read the job postings A job posting for a sociology PhD should tell you something about the position and what you need to know.
“The more you read, the more you can see the job, the higher the pay, the wider the scope, the bigger the responsibilities, the better the company, and the more responsibility,” says Peter Mather, a former professor at University College London who runs the Centre on Career Trends and Opportunities in Sociological Science (CCTOS).
It’s good to read job listings and ask yourself, “What does this person do?”
For example, one job posted on LinkedIn listed a job at a multinational company, but the company didn’t offer an actual job.
Mather advises taking a look at the job description and looking for other jobs that might suit you.
Read job descriptions It can be hard to read the job descriptions, which are often posted on social media.
“You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” says Mather.
“There’s a huge amount of noise and confusion, so it’s good if you can look at it in context.”
“If someone asks you to describe yourself as a sociologist, then you’ve got to do that,” he adds.
“It’s a bit like being asked to describe your own work, but instead of describing it as sociology, it’s more like psychology or sociology.”
In other words, a good job posting should give you the context of the position.
Look for references A CV and cover letter can go a long way in convincing employers that you can do the job.
“If you have some experience in the position, it might be worth considering having a reference,” says Mark Smith, the managing director of Centre on Social and Economic Sciences at Cardiff University.
“People will be more likely to take you on if they’ve heard of your qualifications.”
Apply for a position When applying for a job, be sure to check your CV and references.
If they’re not there, don’t apply.
The CV should list the specific position you’re applying for, including what you’ve done and how you plan to get paid.
This will help you make an argument for why you should be chosen.
Get the right experience for the job You may be able to get a job through your degree, but that’s not always the case.
“Most people don’t think that it’s possible to get through to the next level of employment by just studying,” says Smith.
“That’s a big misconception.”
If you’re keen to take the plunge, it pays to take a look around at the jobs available online.
Mature graduates who have an interest in the job market are often offered positions at university, where they may be asked to spend time at home with their families.
“Some people think that if they’re young and can get through university they can then take a job,” says Steve Wright, an economist at the University of Warwick.
“This is nonsense.
You need a solid knowledge of economics and psychology, and a degree in sociology to get work in that field.”
Make sure you know how to handle stress If you feel anxious or nervous about applying to a job or getting a job offer, you’ll need to work out how to manage it.
For example: how to plan ahead if you have to leave your job unexpectedly; how to tell your boss you’re leaving; how you can work with your boss to find a new job if you’re asked to leave; and how to deal with pressure.
Think about your career path A sociology degree will give you an insight into your career, and it can give you valuable insights into the field you want.