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BA in Sociology - realistic prospects?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hey all, So I've pretty much convinced myself that I want to become involved in the social science, especially in the way of humanitarian aid and international policy. But naturally I'm not sure as to how feasible these types of positions are in this everchanging job market, and a lot of the info I find is hypothetical, 'you can be everything' type stuff. I'd be happy to settle for a job less grandoise like say city planning, teaching or social work for the time being, but I would like to do something more relevant to my interest of helping those in need in the future. I'm curious if any of you have any experience in this type of work, and if you can share some wisdom on the kind of job prospects available for someone with a BA in sociology. It's still pretty early for me deciding, I have another year of high school equivalent education ahead of me, but I definitely want to have an idea of where I'm heading, and most of all whether it's a feasible direction in this current job climate of ours. Thanks
post #2 of 36
I know several people with a BA in Sociology. They have jobs in probations/parol, social work, child protective services, reporter, teacher, bureau of prisons, and police officer. I forget, One is currently in law school.
post #3 of 36
BA is not a highly spevialized degree; prob. 70 percent of the credits will be general education and assorted electives and unrelated reqs like foreign language. Bad idea to choose a BA major with notion that it significantly alters job prospects. Learn what you want to learn at school. Yes you might need an MA later but you would not nec. need BA in soc. to get MA in soc. if your work truly develops along the lines you predict now. BA is not a vo tech degree.NO jobs waiting for BA in Soc. ONLY. For most jobs req. a BA employers will not care what the major was. BA is BA, major is pretty irrevelant in most cases. If you are angling for certain career, in most cases your work experience is much more important than having the right major. Choose classes you want to take and sweat PT and internship jobs like they will mmake or break the young career.
post #4 of 36
Well .. if you want to do Social Work type stuff .. people with degrees in Social work will likely beat you out. If you want to do work in policy .. people with degrees in Economics or Political Science will likely beat you out. Also .. to have great career prospects with any of the social sciences .. pretty much need graduate training. At the BA level .. there is very little taught in terms of actual job skills. Really all you learn with any of the liberal arts degree's is how to do research, and how to write. Economics you'll learn a bit of math. Lots of very unemployed sociology majors. Wasn't that goof complaining about his unemployedness in the newspaper article on here a few months ago a sociology major? Here's a thread about a Poli-Sci major bitching about his unemployedness. http://www.styleforum.net/showthread...ght=unemployed
post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
I'd be happy to settle for a job less grandoise like say city planning

this quote should appear in econ 101 textbooks
post #6 of 36
xenox you should do software engineering.

or engineering something.


or biotechnology.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BP348 View Post
I know several people with a BA in Sociology. They have jobs in probations/parol, social work, child protective services, reporter, teacher, bureau of prisons, and police officer. I forget, One is currently in law school.
This is good to hear, do you know per chance what they majored/minored in and how they rated in their class (average, above average)?
Quote:
Originally Posted by scientific View Post
this quote should appear in econ 101 textbooks
Lol, well I was comparing helping the third world in dire need to helping a city/town that is already established and naturally civilized, I figured the former is a more demanding task.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post
xenox you should do software engineering. or engineering something. or biotechnology.
I appreciate the thought and my dad would sympathize, but I really want to be involved in something community based.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey View Post
BA is not a highly spevialized degree; prob. 70 percent of the credits will be general education and assorted electives and unrelated reqs like foreign language. Bad idea to choose a BA major with notion that it significantly alters job prospects. Learn what you want to learn at school. Yes you might need an MA later but you would not nec. need BA in soc. to get MA in soc. if your work truly develops along the lines you predict now. BA is not a vo tech degree.NO jobs waiting for BA in Soc. ONLY. For most jobs req. a BA employers will not care what the major was. BA is BA, major is pretty irrevelant in most cases. If you are angling for certain career, in most cases your work experience is much more important than having the right major. Choose classes you want to take and sweat PT and internship jobs like they will mmake or break the young career.
Interesting, but wouldn't my success in getting internships depend on my education and thus my major? I mean if work experience was all that mattered then what distinction would employers make among interns in order to pick the right one?
Quote:
Originally Posted by imschatz View Post
Well .. if you want to do Social Work type stuff .. people with degrees in Social work will likely beat you out. If you want to do work in policy .. people with degrees in Economics or Political Science will likely beat you out. Also .. to have great career prospects with any of the social sciences .. pretty much need graduate training. At the BA level .. there is very little taught in terms of actual job skills. Really all you learn with any of the liberal arts degree's is how to do research, and how to write. Economics you'll learn a bit of math. Lots of very unemployed sociology majors. Wasn't that goof complaining about his unemployedness in the newspaper article on here a few months ago a sociology major? Here's a thread about a Poli-Sci major bitching about his unemployedness. http://www.styleforum.net/showthread...ght=unemployed
This is what I'm worried about; my subjects veer towards global justice, human rights and international policy, which seems very ambitiuous no doubt, but is exactly the area that I'm wishing to get to. I'm also going to be doing a philosophy minor which I think would help in terms of my ethical position and forming cogent arguments, particularly with poverty being a big area of applied ethics. I haven't looked to far ahead but I am interested in doing a postgrad in the future, potentially something in the vein of professional and applied ethics, though again this might be too ambitious, I think I would need to see where I end up with a BA first. Thanks everyone for the advice so far
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
I appreciate the thought and my dad would sympathize, but I really want to be involved in something community based.
You can be involved in anything you want. You should get your degree in something that will actually have a chance of landing you a job in the event that you can't get hired in your profession of choice for whatever reason.
post #9 of 36
I will join you in 3 years on the unemployment line. Wait for me Xenox!
post #10 of 36
I would suggest a double major perhaps. Get one degree in a major that is an actual job title, e.g. civil engineering or architecture (since you mentioned city planning), and the other in sociology. It is a hedge and at least allows you the option of a different career should you have trouble finding your ideal position.

The other thing I would suggest is to maybe focus on epidemiology or community health, etc. You can make a big difference that way, and if you focus on geriatrics in some way, you'll probably be guaranteed a job at least in the US with the baby boomers all retiring soon.

As for the internships, having a solid skill that is in demand will really help you get the internship. When I was an undergrad, I snatched a few internships because I could write code. The positions had nothing to do with software, but they wanted custom databases and stuff and I was able to provide that.
post #11 of 36
I think that sociology is really one of those fields where you need a PhD to make a real contribution if you're interested in being an expert or being listened to. Maybe a masters from a respectable school if you're into public policy and all that...
post #12 of 36
For what it is worth, I worked in international development for several years back in the 1990s, before switching over to work for the Australian government. I now work as a government legal officer and have nothing to do with aid or development, and things may well have changed over the past nine years. In regard to qualifications, I think that you will have better prospects with a more specific degree, rather than something that is often perceived as being fairly general such as sociology. By that, I mean engineering, accounting, public administration, law, something public health-related, or even business/tourism/marketing. Of course, a lot of universities also offer post-grad qualifications in international development and aid - ANU is, if I remember correctly, a leader in the field. If you are interested in working for an NGO, you should start networking whilst at university. See if you can do some volunteering for NGO offices (should hopefully be reasonably easy if you live in Melbourne or Sydney, difficult if elsewhere). Also, various NGOs offer programs where - for a reasonably hefty fee - you can travel to India, Pakistan or other countries and see some NGO projects as well as help out with one for a week or two over the university summer break. This helps to give you contacts and experience. An excellent program - if it still exists - is AusAID's "Australian Youth Ambassador for Development" or AYAD program. Some people participate whilst at university, other participants are recent graduates. The aim is to send young people out to areas around the Asia-Pacific to work on various projects - improving public administration; developing tourism programs; improving public health; improving agricultural practices, and many other, varied jobs. Wages are low - usually comparable to living costs in the host nation - but AYAD pays your airfares and often gives a bit of a top-up stipend. Some universities are AYAD partner organisations and so they might help you to source a project for you to do. In addition to the AYAD program, there are some other volunteer programs - both govt and private - that run programs lasting from a few months to a year or more. Doing something like that will give you both experience and contacts so that you will stand a much better chance of getting a job with either the government or with an NGO. Be aware that NGOs pay low salaries but expect you to be well qualified and experienced. As most, if not all, of them are not-for-profit organisations you might be able to access salary sacrifice provisions to beef up your income but you will typically not earn as much as someone in government, for example. Here are a few sites to look at: Australian Council for International Development (ACFID): http://www.acfid.asn.au/get-involved/job-vacancies Australian Development Gateway: http://www.developmentgateway.com.au...ob_vacancies_1 And here's some volunteering info from the AusAID website: http://www.ausaid.gov.au/partner/volunteer.cfm Best of luck, if you choose to pursue it. Such a career can be incredibly rewarding, and give you a chance to not only see the world, but to see parts of it that most Westerners never see, from a perspective that most Westerners never experience. It's not easy, though, but then most things worth doing aren't easy!
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks so much for all the info! Will invest some good time in sifting through it all, much appreciated! Re: a more specific degree, what would you recommend? I will look into ANU's international development degree. But I'm worried that with a too-narrow degree I'll be missing out on gaining thorough knowledge of the situation abroad and learning social theory, which might detriment my chances at gaining a more involved senior position in the future (such as to do with policy). Would you at all recommend a double degree? Thanks again!
post #14 of 36
Take a look into the field of Develemental Economics. Pretty hot topic right now, with lots of people having a lot to say. If you wanted to hedge, but still stay within your interests .. a double major in Develement Econ and Sociology may be worth looking into.
post #15 of 36
You have another year of high school yet. You're going to change your mind a dozen times between now and age 20. And honestly you probably shouldn't go to college, and certainly not for a degree as worthless as sociology. It's a scam and you'll come out owing a boatload of money working as a probation officer for $28k a year with huge student loans that you'll never be able to pay back. Go to trade school to be a plumber. If you want to help people there is no better occupation to really help desperate people.
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