In order for lawmakers, educators and administrators to devise and execute public policies, a comprehensive study of human social behavioral patterns and their root systems must first be conducted. This role is performed by a sociologist, whose goal is to utilize varied forms of direct or indirect experience and critical thinking to help formulate effective strategies.

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Terri Anderson)

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Terri Anderson)

Since sociology is considered a small occupation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see only 400 new jobs to open between now and the year 2022. Candidates with advanced degrees, hefty research skills and a strong background in applied sociology will stand a better chance to snag available positions that carry an annual median salary of $75,000.

Regardless of tightening competition, experts say the methodical study of human society remains an ideal course to consider, especially in Los Angeles.

“Sociology is a broad discipline, and the student can potentially focus on any aspect of human behavior,” said Dr. Terri Anderson, a sociology lecturer at UCLAUCLA Extension and Occidental College. “As Los Angeles is one of the largest and most diverse, complex and fascinating cities in the world, the range of study for the sociology student is both deeply interesting and nearly limitless.”

Dr. Anderson said an accomplished sociologist’s key attributes are multifarious.

“The successful sociologist must cultivate a deep, professionally objective curiosity about human beings,” said Dr. Anderson, who earned her Ph.D. in sociology at UCLA. “That curiosity must then be backed up with the patience to systematically investigate various aspects of social life, and the ability to ground that investigation into sociological literature.”

What is the best way to prepare for this vocation?

“To prepare for a career in sociology, one must master the academic field, develop a skill for navigating the practice and politics of academic life and keep the passion alive.”

What is your advice to those interested in pursuing a career in sociology?

“Because sociology has such a potentially broad focus, it is applicable to perhaps a wider range of careers than any other major. You don’t have to become a sociologist to use your degree in sociology.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to


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