What Is a Sociologist?

Meeting of sociology professionals

Are you interested in observing the many nuances and complexities of society? If so, you might be interested in sociology. What is a sociologist, exactly? This field of study focuses on various aspects of the relationship between people and society, including how societal norms are created and evolve and how societies change over time and in response to various factors. 

Here, we’ll dive into some common questions students have about sociology, such as, What does a sociologist do? and What can you do with a sociology degree?

In This Article:

What Does a Sociologist Do?

As a sociologist, you will observe and study various aspects of society and their impact on people. This may include both large and small-scale observations of everything from cultural ideologies to family dynamics. Sociologists can work in several different fields, including healthcare, social services, research, marketing and criminal justice.

Your specific responsibilities will be dependent on your job title and the industry you work in. Earning your Bachelor of Science in Sociology degree is the first step you need to take if you would like to pursue this career path. A bachelor’s degree may enable you to pursue entry-level positions in fields such as social services, education and public policy.1 However, to hold a higher-level position, you can expect to need either a Master of Science in Sociology or a PhD in the field.1

Before considering your options for what to do with a sociology degree, it can be helpful to know what sociologists who hold advanced degrees typically do on a daily basis.

Research Design

Sociologists are typically responsible for designing and conducting research projects. The subject of a project will depend on your specific job title or area of expertise.

The first step in research is to produce a hypothesis. Some of the topics you may encounter during your research include religion, education, health, aging, families, gender, crime and population. You will conduct research to see if anyone else has done any experiments to test your hypothesis. The design of your research project should be precise enough that you can address your hypothesis.

Data Collection

After designing tests for your research project, you will begin conducting them and collecting data. A test can be something simple, such as a survey that you send out to a small sample of people. You might also go out into a public space to observe how people behave. After that, you will consider whether your observations can address the question you are asking in your project.

Data Analysis

Once all the data has been collected, it is your job as a sociologist to analyze the information. You will need to keep track of answers and observations so you can make a note of any patterns that you see. You will also want to make a note if you see anything unexpected or out of the ordinary.

After analyzing your findings, you may determine that you need to conduct more research. Otherwise, you’ll be ready to compile your findings and publish them.

Publication of Findings

Compiling and publishing reports is an important part of being a sociologist. After doing your research, you can create reports to share your findings with others in the field. These reports will outline your hypothesis, what research you performed, how you collected your data and what the data shows regarding your hypothesis.

Your findings may be submitted for publication to professional journals. In some cases, you may be responsible for presenting your findings in person, such as at professional conferences or before a panel of stakeholders at your organization.

Consulting Professionals

Sociologists may work for a government organization, university, scientific research firm or another entity.2 You may need to consult other professionals in your organization or industry to discuss your findings so they can apply your work to their own area of expertise.

What Can You Do With a Sociology Degree?

Now that you know what sociologists do, it’s time to take a look at what to do with a sociology degree. There are many choices you might consider, although your options may depend on whether you decide to obtain a graduate degree in sociology.1


A sociology degree graduate may pursue a career in the private sector because of their understanding of people and society. They may work well in fields like public relations and marketing. A sociology degree graduate who understands the need for diverse communication might go into consumer research or perhaps a human resources role.

Community Services

Sociology degree majors are sometimes attracted to organizations that make a difference in communities. They may go on to work with nonprofit agencies or environmental groups. Advocacy work may also be an option for those with a sociology degree.

Higher Education

A sociology degree graduate who is interested in education may apply to work at a university. Both admissions and alumni relations are great areas for a sociology expert. In addition, universities may hire people who work on development and grant writing. With additional education and training, sociology graduates can also work as post-secondary educators.3


The study of crime and its effects is a major focus area of sociology. Some graduates may use their interest in this field to pursue a career in law enforcement. This may mean pursuing a career as a police officer or probation or parole officer. Graduates may also work in criminal justice centers or use their bachelor's degree as a foundation for applying to law school.

Social Services

Some sociology degree graduates go into social services. Their interest in society and people may lead them to careers that allow them to interact with their local community. Sociology degree grads may find work as social and human services assistants.4 They may work with children and families, the elderly, unhoused populations, immigrants or other vulnerable populations.

Pursue Your Sociology Degree at GCU

The Bachelor of Science in Sociology degree program is designed to teach a foundation of competencies in the analysis of contemporary societies. Examine topics as diverse as human behavior, social status, race relations and societal destabilization while being taught how to apply the scientific method to your work. Grand Canyon University encourages our students to study the world they are in and to also be inspired to make a positive difference in their communities.

Apply today for enrollment in the Bachelor of Science in Sociology degree program at GCU. Enjoy opportunities to develop critical thinking and cultural competency skills while broadening your global awareness. To learn more about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, fill out the form on this page.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a sociologist. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). Sociologists: Work environment. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a postsecondary teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a social and human service assistant. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2024. 

Approved by the director of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on April 9, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.