If you choose to work in social science, you will be among the most highly educated group of professionals among all occupations. A Ph.D. or an equivalent degree is the minimum requirement for most positions in colleges and universities and is important for advancement to many top-level nonacademic research and administrative posts.
A master’s degree in an applied specialty will prepare you for opportunities outside of colleges and universities, although the situation varies by field. You may also be qualified to teach in a community college.
You’ll have limited opportunities with a bachelor’s degree in most social science occupations, and you will not be qualified for professional positions. You will, however, be qualified for many different entry-level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management or sales trainee.With additional education courses, you can also qualify for teaching positions in secondary and elementary schools.
To work in certain fields of social science, you may need training in statistics and mathematics. For example, quantitative research methods are increasingly used in geography, political science, sociology, and other fields. The ability to utilize computers for research purposes is mandatory in most disciplines. Most geographers, and increasing numbers of archaeologists, also need to be familiar with GIS technology.
You may find that an internship or field experience will be beneficial in establishing yourself in one of the social sciences. Check with local museums, historical societies, government agencies, and other organizations for internships or volunteer research opportunities.
Depending on the field you choose, you may need a wide range of personal characteristics. Intellectual curiosity and creativity are fundamental because social scientists constantly seek new information about people, things, and ideas. The ability to think logically and methodically is important to a political scientist comparing, for example, the merits of various forms of government. Objectivity, an open mind, and systematic work habits are important in all kinds of social science research. Perseverance is essential for an anthropologist, who might have to spend years studying artifacts from an ancient civilization before making a final analysis and interpretation. Excellent written and oral communication skills also are necessary for all of these professionals.