Most college students understand that they can’t simply choose a major to study without thinking about its practical applications as a career. Higher education is incredibly expensive these days, and with fewer grants and scholarships being given out by the tapped federal and state governments it falls on your shoulders to work your way through or take on massive amounts of student loan debt. So as much as you love a particular discipline, it must lead to a career that will pay all of your bills. The social sciences are a popular field, especially for students interested in teaching or mounting significant research projects someday. But will it fulfill your financial requirements? Here is a look at some of the best job opportunities in social science.
When it comes to opportunity, nothing beats that of a market research analyst. For this and any other research job you’re probably going to want to pursue an advanced degree. That’s an important budgetary consideration, not to mention the increased time commitment. As a market research analyst you’ll work with corporations or private research facilities, crafting the processes by which new products are launched in a wide number of industries. With a bachelor’s degree you should still be able to find work. But the higher paying work will come with advanced degrees.
Another job you can pursue with a social science degree is a position as a criminologist. As a criminologist you’ll try to determine the reasons why people commit crimes, which is a complex behavioral, biological and psychological question. You might end up working for the FBI or another government organization, inside the private sector for a security firm, or in a research capacity. If you can land one of those coveted positions you should be able to command a six-figure salary. This field is highly competitive, and the jobs are tough to come by. You’ll have to work your way up over several years, gaining experience, and the path isn’t always an obvious one. But criminology offers some incredible rewards.
Another social science career crosses over to government and institutional positions, when you work as a political scientist. In an educational setting a political scientist reviews trends within a particular political system and works to publish findings that further thought and commentary. This is another career that will lead to a paycheck near the six-figure mark. You could also choose to take that education and experience and run for political office yourself. The financial projections are tough to make there, as it depends upon your election success and what level of government you end up working within.
Not all social science careers are quite so lucrative. Research assistants generally make less than $40,000 a year, and otherwise rewarding work as a sociologist, anthropologist or archaeologist isn’t much better. These jobs often depend on receiving grants or institutional sponsorships. You might also find the lion’s share of opportunities at universities. That would require some sort of graduate degree, as you will also be expected to teach. Enter these fields prepared to hunt for the best job. But at the end of the day you’ve got to follow your heart.