Sociologists are responsible for studying society and social behavior. Most sociologists begin working after obtaining a Master's degree in sociology or a related field such as political science or criminal justice. Some stop at a bachelor's degree, while others go on to pursue a Ph.D. Those with a Bachelor's degree rarely find employment as a sociologist, however, due to the educational requirements. The average salary for a beginning sociologist varies by geographical location.
According to the ERI (Economic Research Institute), the average national base salary for a sociologist holding a Masters degree or Ph.D., with no certifications and less than one year of experience, is $73,470 a year. There are other factors that determine how much a beginning sociologist earns, including education level, special certifications and geographic location.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median pay for all sociologists was $72,360 per year, or $34.79 per hour. The 2011 mean annual wage for sociologists was $79,460 per year, or $38.20 per hour. The bottom 10th percentile of sociologists earned a mean annual wage of $43,870, or $21.09 per hour. Many sociologists just starting out likely fall into this category. The top 10th percentile earned a mean annual wage of $129,780 or more per year.
The top five highest paying states or special districts for sociologists, in order of rank, are New York, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Arizona. As of 2011, the annual mean wage for New Yorkers was $106,070. The annual mean wage for Arizona was $82,460. Three of the lowest paying states for sociologists are Texas, Georgia and Ohio. As of 2011, the annual mean wage for a Texas sociologist was $51,620. The annual mean wage for Ohio was $61,880, while the annual mean wage for Georgia was $65,430.
The BLS says there were about 4,000 sociologists employed in 2010. This number is expected to increase by 18 percent between 2010 and 2020. That's an increase of 700 new jobs. According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor, 48 percent of all sociologists are employed in a professional, scientific or technical services sector. Thirty-one percent worked in the field of educational services, while 11 percent worked in a government sector.