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Department of Sociology Careers for Sociology Majors: Education

Translating Sociology to Education

Sociology coursework provides a solid basis for a wide variety of careers related to K-12 and higher education administration/student services. Sociology majors become teachers in either public or private schools, school administrators, and research consultants on educational issues. Other educational careers open to those with undergraduate sociology training include college admissions officer, alumni relations, student services professional, and career counselor.

Students specifically interested in teaching should be aware that they will need to be certified. Some students major in Education and automatically certify. Others major in a variety of fields, and then need additional training (such as a Master’s degree) to obtain certification. Thus becoming a teacher or administrator, particularly in a public school, generally requires college coursework geared toward teacher preparation beyond the sociology BA, such as an MA or MS in teaching (either elementary or secondary). Whether or not you acquire an advanced degree, as a sociology major you will develop skills that will help you be successful in an education-related career.

There are many sociology courses that could help students prepare for education-related careers. You should plan your coursework with your particular future goals in mind. If interested in becoming a career counselor at a college or university, for example, you should take such courses as Sociology of Professions and Occupations (Soc. 343) and Social Inequality (Soc. 345). Future teachers would benefit from coursework on such topics as Sociology of Education (Soc. 346), The Family (Soc. 351), and Urbanization and Community Organization (Soc. 433). You might also want to seek out related coursework in other disciplines. We encourage you to discuss your future plans with your advisor and other faculty members when drawing up your course schedule.

In addition, you should pursue internships, work study positions, research assistantships or volunteer work that relate to your specific career goals. For example, students who wish to become teachers could seek out summer internships working in academic-oriented summer programs for youth. Many non-profit organizations are also likely to have paid or volunteer opportunities that would provide relevant experiences. Volunteering as a tutor or youth mentor would also provide valuable experiences for those seeking teaching careers. If you wish to become a consultant in educational settings, you should seek opportunities to become a research assistant on faculty research projects for credit. Work study positions in admissions or student services can also help you determine if obtaining a long-term career in one of these areas would be right for you.

For those who would like to enter the classroom shortly after graduation without first earning a Masters degree, programs like Teach for America (TFA) can provide an alternative route to teacher certification for exceptional students. TFA is a competitive program that hires qualified BA holders from a variety of disciplines to work as teachers for at least two years in “high need” school districts (generally urban and rural high poverty schools) around the country. TFA corps members receive intensive training during the summer before entering the classroom and continue working on their certification while teaching. One need not pursue undergraduate coursework in education to apply to this program, in fact Teach for America corps members are more likely to have a BA in a social science discipline like Sociology than any other area of study (36% hold social science diplomas). Many educators transition to teaching after starting their careers in other areas of employment, such as in the non-profit sector. The AmeriCorps program also provides many entry-level opportunities for those interested in gaining experiences in education-related non-profit organizations immediately after graduating.