4 minute read

Social Scientists, Other Job Description, Career as a Social Scientists, Other, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Advanced Degree

Salary: Median— $62,320 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Social scientists study all aspects of society &emdash; past events, human relationships, and human behavior among groups. Through their studies, social scientists analyze societal structure and suggest solutions to problems related to social, business, government and personal issues.

The major activity of all social scientists is research, and consequently assembling data and extracting useful information. Applied research in the field of sociology provides information that will help people make better decisions and manage affairs in an effective way. Social scientists collect demographic and opinion data by various methods such as interviews and questionnaires. In addition, they analyze existing data thoroughly and design behavioral experiments to arrive at theories.

Social scientists are generally classified on the basis of their area of specialization, but a specialist in one field may research on topics that overlap other disciplines as well. Anthropologists and archaeologists are social scientists who study the physical, social, cultural and behavioral development of humans through the ages. They gather data from archaeological sites as well as cultural documents and artifacts of various civilizations. Political scientists study the development and origins of political systems in civilization. They deal with both ancient operations of politics as well as current political issues and their effects on our society.

Sociologists are social scientists who study social behavior and interactions among groups. They analyze the workings of groups, cultures and organizations formed by people. They also study the effects that social influences have on an individual’s behavior.

Geographers are social scientists who study the aspects of cultural and physical phenomena on a local, regional, continental or global scale. Historians study past events and correlate them to current scenarios.

Education and Training Requirements

Candidates with a master’s degree in any applied specialty are eligible for all social scientist positions except research positions in colleges or universities. A doctoral degree may be required for higher level positions. The requirements, however, depend upon the field of study. A bachelor’s degree holder, though not eligible for research-based positions, is suitable for related occupations such as that of a research assistant.

Since data collection techniques by social scientists are highly dependent on mathematical methods, formal training in statistics and mathematics is essential. Social scientists must also be up-to-date with the latest technological advances that are relevant to their field of research.

Internships and field experience are highly beneficial for social scientists. It allows them to learn excavation, data interpretation, and data recording techniques. Social scientists also require perseverance and good written and oral skills in order to report research findings and collaborate with others on research.

Getting the Job

Many social scientists are employed by the federal government. Employment opportunities vary by specialization. Historians, anthropologists, or archaeologists may find positions at universities or in museums, often beginning as research assistants. Political scientists may find entry-level positions with political campaigns and ultimately offer consulting services to politicians.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With experience, social scientists may advance to administrative designations or positions of top-level research. Some social scientists opt to work as teachers or instructors while continuing their research. The minimum qualification for a teaching position in a college is a doctoral degree; however master’s degree holders are eligible for teaching positions in community colleges. Advancement in career prospects for social scientists also depends on the number and quality of reports published by them together with their ability to design successful studies.

Employment growth for social scientists is expected to be average. The growing popularity for social sciences among students will lead to a demand for social science teachers. There is stiff competition among job seekers, but those with higher educational degrees are likely to have better prospects.

Working Conditions

Social scientists generally have regular working hours. They may work either independently or in collaboration with other social scientists. However, writing reports and meeting deadlines may occasionally cause stress. At times, social scientists may need to travel to attend meetings and collect data. Adjustment to unfamiliar culture, climate and language may be necessary while working on foreign assignments.

Some social scientists, such as anthropologists and archaeologists, may have to travel to remote areas for prolonged periods during field investigations. Those employed by colleges have flexible work schedules and can devote time to teaching, research, administrative responsibilities, and consulting.

Where to Go for More Information

American Anthropological Association
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22201

Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon St., 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02215

Association of American Geographers
1710 16th St. NW.
Washington, DC 20009

Earnings and Benefits

In 2008, the median salary for social scientists such as anthropologists and archaeologists was $49,930 per year. However, political scientists were paid the highest median yearly salary of $90,140. In federal government jobs, a social scientist with a bachelor’s degree and no experience may get an annual salary in the range of $28,862 to $35,572. Those having a master’s degree can expect to start with $43,731 per year, whereas a doctoral degree holder can expect to get a yearly salary of $52,912.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEngineering, Science, Technology, and Social Sciences