Are you fascinated by human behavior, history, and culture? Do you want to learn more about political and economic systems? If you are curious about how humans interact within a society you may consider a job in social services. Working in the social sciences gives you the chance to make a difference in the world by influencing public policy or helping people. 

There are many ways to enter the field of social sciences. You can find a variety of social science degrees at numerous colleges and universities. Examples include:

  • Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Counseling
  • Political Science

Many social science careers are both financially and personally fulfilling. Some even earn six-figure salaries. 

Browse our list of the top 10 highest paying social science careers to find the perfect path for you. If you are looking for social science jobs in demand, you will find them on this list of careers. 

1. Political Scientist

Political Scientist

If you have an interest in politics, then a career as a political scientist might be the right choice for you. This is the highest paid job in the social sciences profession. Political scientists investigate how political systems originated and progressed and how they currently operate. They follow political trends and develop new political policies and ideas. As scientists, they collect and analyze data. For example, they study historical texts, as well as the statistics behind election results and surveys. Based on their findings, they predict patterns and trends relating to politics, the economy, and social changes. Political scientists also test new and current ideologies, policies, laws, and current events.

So, where do political scientists find jobs? The number of possible workplaces for these professionals is surprising. Many – about 50 percent of – political scientists work within the government. Many more work for political lobbying groups. Political Science jobs include working in:

  • labor organizations
  • think tanks
  • academic institutions
  • nonprofit organizations

Specializations in a degree in political science include:

  • studying American politics
  • international relations
  • comparative politics
  • political theory

The number of political scientists currently employed in the United States is small, about 7,000. However,  the industry is likely to see rapid job growth with as much as 21 percent growth over a decade.

Median Salary: $122,220

Education: Master’s Degree in Political Science or Public Administration

2. Economist

Economist

You hear a lot about the economy in the news, but how would you like to earn a living researching not only the numbers but the factors behind them? The job of an economist is growing at a faster than average rate.  Economists study how goods, services, and resources are produced and distributed. They create and conduct surveys and compile and analyze the results. They use spreadsheets, databases and statistical analysis software. Economists draw from current data and historical trends to predict changes and patterns in the economy. They help companies, individuals, and government weather economic changes. They present their findings and forecasts in many forms, from charts and tables to policies and journal articles.

The economy isn’t just about money, but about resources of all kinds. Economists investigate the costs of education, energy, healthcare, and consumer products. They may work in the following fields:

  • public finances
  • labor economics
  • industrial organization economics
  • financial economics
  • international economics
  • macroeconomics and microeconomics

The federal government alone employs close to half of all economists. Economists in government roles:

  • predict funding and spending needs
  • study the economic ramifications of policies and laws
  • gather and evaluate information about the national economy

Other economists find employment with private corporations. They evaluate the demand for and sales of a product or service. They give advice to business leaders on how the economy can improve their profits. Economists who work in think tanks research economic issues and share their findings and predictions in newspapers and journals.

Median Salary: $105,020

Education: Master’s Degree in Economics

3. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial Organizational Psychologist

It may not seem like the profit-chasing business world would have much use for the social sciences! But, industrial-organizational psychology is dedicated to studying human behavior in the workplace. Industrial-organizational psychologists take the same principles and research methods used in the field and put them to use in the work environment.

Industrial-organizational psychology has a place in a wide range of departments including:

  • administration
  • marketing
  • human resources
  • sales

These professionals often work with management to hire and train employees, create company policies, and plan the growth and development of the business. They seek to solve workplace problems, such as improving productivity and increasing morale. Industrial-organizational psychologists may investigate a variety of topics involving workplace behavior, such as:

  • team effectiveness
  • employee motivation
  • occupational stress
  • safety risks and job performance

They use their knowledge to help companies select, train, and keep the right employees. They make the work environment a productive one.

Median Salary: $92,880

Education:  Master’s Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology 

4. Sociologist

 

Sociologist

If you’re interested in the way people interact, a career in sociology could be right for you. Sociologists investigate social interactions in humans. They observe social interactions in:

  • cultures
  • organizations
  • social institutions
  • groups and relationships

They develop theories to explain these interactions and social processes. Sociologists test their theories through research. They use surveys, interviews with subjects, and their own observations to gather data. Sociologists present their findings through reports, journal articles, and presentations. Often, the work of sociologists becomes the basis for public policy reforms. Sociologists may work with educators, lawmakers, policymakers, administrators, and social workers. They determine how forces influence behavior such as:

  • political
  • social
  • religious
  • economic

They find solutions to these problems.

Sociologists can work in universities and research and development in the social sciences. Some work in government positions or with management and scientific consulting firms. Often, sociologists focus their work on a specialized field, such as:

  • population
  • poverty
  • gender
  • families
  • health
  • education
  • crime
  • aging

Median Salary: $84,320

Education: Master’s Degree in Sociology

5. Geographer

Geographer

 

Do you have an interest in both the physical and the social sciences? A career in geography will expose you to both. Geographers research the earth. This includes the physical features of the land. As well as the cultures that inhabit it and the political structures in place within a culture. To collect data, geographers study:

  • maps
  • satellite imagery
  • photographs
  • census responses
  • fieldwork of their own

Geographers visit the region they’re studying to make their own observations. Research focuses on numbers and statistics and interviews and surveys of the humans inhabiting the region. During the course of their research, geographers use technologies such as:

  • remote sensing
  • geographic information systems (GIS)
  • global positioning systems (GPS)

They collect and assess geographic data, notice patterns, and visually present their findings. Geographers publicizing their findings in presentations and written reports. Their data is often portrayed in visual modes such as maps, diagrams, and graphs.

Specialists within the field of geography include:

  • physical geographers
  • human geographers
  • cultural geographers
  • political geographers
  • economic geographers
  • medical geographers
  • urban geographers
  • regional geographers
  • environmental geographers.

Each type of specialist must have a thorough background in both geography and their chosen specialty. Geographers may provide guidance to professionals outside the social sciences. This includes helping governments develop policies and laws and helping businesses create effective marketing strategies.

Median Salary: $81,540
Education: Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Geography

6. Psychologist

Psychologist

Do you often wonder why people think, feel, and behave in certain ways? If so, a career in psychology could be in your future. Psychologists investigate human behavior. They perform research studies in laboratories to learn about brain function and behavior. They gather and evaluate information gained from their own observations. They use tests, surveys, and interviews with humans. A goal among psychologists is to develop a thorough understanding of behavior patterns. This includes how thoughts, beliefs, and emotions contribute to behavior. Psychologists find work in:

  • schools
  • healthcare facilities
  • social assistance programs
  • research centers
  • government agencies
  • private practices

 

There is a wide variety of types of psychologists, and each type performs different job roles. Clinical psychologists are healthcare workers who diagnose and treat mental health disorders. They use psychotherapy, behavioral modification, and, in certain states, medication. Counseling psychologists guide patients in understanding and solving problems in their lives. School psychologists work in academic services. They help students cope with learning and behavioral problems and reach educational goals. Other types of psychologists focus more on research. Developmental psychologists investigate the psychological process of growing and aging. This is mostly among children but sometimes senior citizens. Social psychologists research the effect of social interactions on human behavior. Forensic psychologists work in the legal system. They testify in court about psychological factors in a criminal, civil or family case.

Median Salary: $80,370

Education: Ph.D. in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

7. Urban and Regional Planner 

Urban and Regional Planner

Land is a valuable but finite resource, one that can be used in many ways. Urban and regional planners make plans to best use the land available to:

  • establish new communities
  • enlarge existing communities to adjust to population increases
  • enhance outdated facilities

First, urban and regional planners determine a community’s needs. They collect and assess information. To analyze their data, they use systems (GIS) to display data on electronic maps, as well as statistical software programs. They collaborate with land developers and public officials. They make sure plans and proposals meet all environmental regulations and zoning and building codes. Some urban and regional planners also supervise and coordinate community land-use projects.

Urban and regional planning is a fast-growing job field. Nearly two-thirds of all urban and regional planners work for local government agencies. The rest find employment in industries such as:

  • architecture
  • engineering
  • state government agencies
  • consulting services

Urban and regional planners generally focus on identifying and meeting the needs of a community by creating and updating facilities. This ranges from schools to homeless shelters and parks to residential and commercial property developments. Urban and regional planners may specialize in:

  • environmental and natural resources planning
  • land use and code enforcement
  • economic development
  • transportation
  • urban design planning

Median Salary: $74,350

Education: Master’s Degree in Urban or Regional Planning 

8. Historian

Historian

If you have an interest in the past, a career as a historian could be for you. These professionals study the past. Historians:

  • comb through books, government records,photographs, archived articles
  • assess documents to learn if they are authentic
  • work to preserve historical documents in safe locations (historic sites and museums)
  • expand our understanding of the past
  • publish scholarly articles or books
  • create educational exhibits at museums and historical associations.

Other historians investigate history for current purposes, such as to inform government policies or understand historical factors involved in legal matters.

 

More than half of all historians work for the government. These professionals also find employment in:

  • museums
  • historical societies
  • nonprofit organizations
  • archives
  • consulting firms
  • research organizations

Many historians focus on particular aspects of the past. This might be government agencies and programs, historic battle sites and the history of certain religious groups.

Median Salary: $63, 670

Education:  Master’s Degree in History, Archival Management, Museum Studies or Historical Preservation

9. Anthropologist and Archeologist

Anthropologist and Archeologist

If you have an interest in the past, a career as a historian could be for you. These professionals study the past. Historians:

  • comb through books, government records, photographs, archived articles
  • assess documents to learn if they are authentic
  • work to preserve historical documents in safe locations (historic sites and museums)
  • expand our understanding of the past
  • publish scholarly articles or books
  • create educational exhibits at museums and historical associations.

Other historians investigate history for current purposes, such as to inform government policies or understand historical factors involved in legal matters.

More than half of all historians work for the government. These professionals also find employment in:

  • museums
  • historical societies
  • nonprofit organizations
  • archives
  • consulting firms
  • research organizations

Many historians focus on particular aspects of the past. This might be government agencies and programs, historic battle sites and the history of certain religious groups.

Median Salary: $63, 670

Education:  Master’s Degree in History, Archival Management, Museum Studies or Historical Preservation

10. Survey Researcher

Survey Researcher

Many social science jobs rely at least in part on information gleaned through survey responses. However, a flawed survey will result in inaccurate data. Survey researchers specialize in creating quality surveys and interpreting the information that results. They begin crafting a survey by performing background research on the subject. They consider the purpose of the survey- and then choose the survey methods most appropriate for that purpose. Before going out, survey researchers test their surveys to make sure that subjects will understand their questions. They also make sure that the questions are unbiased. They identify an appropriate population to whom they will administer surveys. To compile results, survey researchers use their statistics knowledge and statistical software to analyze their information. They create tables and fact sheets to quickly convey their findings.

 

Survey researchers work in:

  • academic institutions
  • nonprofit organizations
  • corporations
  • research firms
  • government agencies
  • polling organizations

The surveys they create may cover a wide range of topics, from scientific to political and social to economic. They may interact with the public in person, over the phone or Internet or through mail, or they may supervise interviewers.

Median Salary: $59,170

Education: Master’s Degree in Survey Research, Statistics or Marketing Research

Editor’s Note: The salary and education information presented in this article came from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a federal agency that measures and reports on the labor market and various occupations. In any profession, earning potential and education requirements vary from one location or employer to the next. Students considering pursuing a career in the social sciences should view this article a guide only and should do further research as they prepare for a career.

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