Demographer Job Description, Career as a Demographer, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training: Master's or doctoral degree
Salary: Average—$53,160 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Demographers study the makeup, distribution, and trends of populations. They also make observations about the causes and effects of population changes, such as increases in birth rates or immigration. Demographers collect statistical data, analyze the data to identify any trends, and then predict future trends. These predictions can help governments, social service agencies, and private companies to plan ahead. Demographers are sometimes called population sociologists. Sociology is a broader field than demography and is concerned with the characteristics of social groups.
Many demographers work for government agencies. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics hires demographers to research information such as the number of women working in a certain industry or the effects that a college education has on employment in a particular field. The Immigration and Naturalization Service needs demographic information to plan effective immigration policies. The Environmental Protection Agency commissions demographic reports on population factors in resource depletion and environmental degradation. The Bureau of the Census also employs demographers to plan and interpret census data.
Corporations and market research organizations may also employ demographers. An electric company considering a major capital investment must first take into account predicted changes in local population and habits of electricity consumption. Demographers provide these projections.
Mapmakers sometimes employ demographers to map population data for certain geographic areas. Demographers use computers for this task. Large news organizations may employ reporters with a background in demography. These reporters may investigate such issues as the future of immigration to the Sun Belt states.
Education and Training Requirements
Although a master's degree is the minimum requirement for most demographic work, there are a few positions available for those with only a bachelor's degree. Demographers usually have a bachelor's degree in urban planning or sociology with coursework in statistics, psychology, sociological theory, and economics as a foundation before they do their graduate studies. A master's degree requires about two years of graduate study. For an academic or research position in this field, a doctoral degree is required.
Getting the Job
During their doctoral studies, students may find work as college instructors or interviewers for market research organizations. These jobs provide field experience as well as job contacts. Population associations hold annual conferences where beginning demographers can meet potential employers. These organizations also publish journals with job advertisements.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
College professors can advance to full professor or to a position with high administrative status. Those demographers who have good connections and reputations can set themselves up as demographic consultants.
Employment of sociologists in general will grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2014. However, opportunities exist for demographers, particularly in government. The Census Bureau employs demographers, as do many government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, that conduct surveys. Demographers are also employed by colleges and universities and by non-profit organizations. Some jobs will be available in business and marketing. Businesses have begun to rely on statistical population information to make decisions about expanding or downsizing. Consumer products and professional services companies often employ demographers in their marketing departments.
Entry-level demographers may conduct field work, carrying out interviews or testing census questionnaires. Most of the analysis of demographic statistics is carried out in modern, well-lighted offices. Many demographers spend a lot of time working with computers.
Earnings and Benefits
In 2005 the average salary for demographers was $53,160 per year. Those employed in business and industry tend to earn more than their counterparts working for government or universities. Most colleges and government agencies offer benefits covering health insurance, paid vacations, and retirement plans. Self-employed demographic consultants must provide these benefits for themselves.
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