This section contains information about some of the careers in the field of social science, a sector which will allow you to explore many aspects of human society and if you want to, apply your knowledge to a profession helping others.

The professions considered include:

  • Psychologists
  • Market researchers
  • Economists
  • Sociologists
  • Anthropologists
  • Political scientists


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Jobs and salaries

Psychologists 

Psychologists work as coaches to other people in areas including business, sport and education. They also work in hospitals and health centres, (ie in clinical settings) helping to support people with a range of psychological problems.

Sometimes people change from other careers to work as psychologists.

Salaries of psychologists vary depending on which grade you are working at and how much experience you have.

Market researchers

Market researchers work in many sectors – for the government, for charities and for a variety of commercial organisations. Researchers can be employed directly, or through an agency, or they may work as freelancers, (ie be self-employed).

Salaries for market researchers increase with experience and some large firms offer additional benefits such as a company car, or profit-sharing schemes.

Sociologists and social anthropologists 

Sociologists may have traditionally worked as social workers, but today their expertise is applied in other areas as well. Sociologists and anthropologists often combine academic work with their own research, or form part of multidisciplinary research teams in a range of fields and initiatives.

Read more about what training as an anthropologist can lead on to.

Political scientists  

Being a politician is not the only career for a political scientist. Other jobs include administration in local government and the Civil Service.

Political scientists also work for political parties, lobbying organisations,  charities, and Trade Unions.

Economists

Find out what an economist does here.

Also take a look at the HM Treasury (HMT) website. HMT employs many economists in research and policy development roles

The website of the Civil Service, recruits economists for HMT and all other government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, is also worth a visit.

Read student profiles about their experiences of working in the Civil Service
Follow this link to the Society of Business Economists website and you’ll get a feel for what professional economists do who are working in business rather than the Civil Service.


Routes and qualifications

Psychologists 

Take a look at the courses accredited by the British Psychological Society.

Political scientists 

Find out about routes into politics and vacancies in any government department. Other useful sources of information about working in politics include The British Politics Page and the Political Studies Association.

Market researchers

Although it is not essential, many market researchers have at least a first degree. For graduates, or those with a diploma, subjects they may have studied at University include statistics, mathematics, psychology, economics, business studies, and marketing. The Market Research Society features jobs and career information on its website.

Economists

Training as an economist will usually involve a first degree and also a further degree. Economics courses at University are very popular and competition for a place at a top University will be strong.

Sociologists and social anthropologists 

Training at masters level and above is essential for work in these fields. Most practitioners have completed a phD in an area of their interest and may well be working in a university as well as researching. A levels are available in sociology, and recently in anthropology, but it is not necessary to take these as universities welcome students from all backgrounds up to phD level.

Routes into sociology can be found here.


Funding and support

Funding opportunities for would-be psychologists can be found on the British Psychological Society’s website.

Also check out the pages on student finance from gov.uk, and/or contact the funding or careers departments of the organisations you are considering training with.


What’s it really like working in this sector?

Psychologists 

People often choose to become a psychologist because they are interested in working with people and enjoy using scientific methodology about human behaviour to deal with practical problems - including helping people to overcome depression. They work in many areas of society and are concerned with a wide variety of practical problems.

Have a look at your potential journey into psychology.

Political scientists 

The Civil Service is one of the largest employers in the UK. It works to develop and implement government policies and helps deliver a huge range of services to the public.

Find out about who can stand as an MP and what it involves.

Visit Electus start – a guide to a career in politics and public affairs in the UK and the European Union. It offers information and advice about careers, job vacancies, courses, CV writing and interview techniques.

Market researchers

Employment conditions vary and for some researchers work may involve evenings and weekends. Most work is desk-based although some travel may be necessary. Conducting interviews may involve face to face meetings with one or more interviewees. Self-employment/freelance work is sometimes available.

Sociologists and social anthropologists 

Check out these personal profiles. ‘Early years’ sociologists are invited by the British Sociological Association to visit their website and join the Forum discussions. Read about case studies about the varied career paths of anthropology graduates.

Economists

Although not a careers site, the Society of Business Economists offers some interesting insights.


How many jobs are there in is this sector?

Psychologists 

There are many types of psychologists working in the UK. In 2006 the British Psychological Society had around 45,000 members and numbers have increased steadily since then.

Market researchers

With members in more than 70 countries, “MRS" is the world’s largest association serving all those with professional equity in provision or use of market, social and opinion research, and in business intelligence, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy.”

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) employs researchers to analyse information on a wide range of areas and employs nearly 7,000 staff.

Economists

Some 500 economists are employed in around 30 government departments or agencies in the UK. 


Location, location, location

Roles in this sector can be found all over the country and in many different organisations. Jobs in the Civil Service are now more dispersed geographically than was traditionally the case. The majority of economists however still work in the big financial centres, in the south-east of England, and in London in particular.


Will a career in this sector suit me?

You need to have an interest in society, people and how they relate to each other. You may also want to improve certain aspects of society. You should have good communication skills and realise that this is not usually a sector where you will be earning lots of money, the rewards tend to be more altruistic, although opportunities are wide and worth exploring. Funding is available for research and other work, so you may need to be creative in finding your way in this sector.

Psychologists

Depending on your speciality, employers look for people who can communicate well with others as well as having the right educational qualifications. The Association of Educational Psychologists publishes a careers information booklet giving details of the qualifications and training required.

Market researchers

Qualities that employers look for include good interpersonal skills (good written and oral communication). Competition is strong and it can be worth a speculative approach rather than relying on advertised opportunities.

Economists

Find out what’s required to be a successful economist.

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