How Sociology Can Prepare You For a Career in the Business World

Real World Applications of an Academic Discipline

A young business woman applies skills learned in sociology in the corporate context.
Hero Images/Getty Images

Sociology, with its focus on groups, organizations, and human interaction is a natural complement to business and industry. And, it is a degree that is increasingly well received in the business world. Without a good understanding of co-workers, superiors and subordinates, customers, competitors, and all of the roles that each play, it is nearly impossible to succeed at business. Sociology is a discipline that enhances a business person’s ability to manage these relations.

Within sociology, a student can specialize in subfields including the sociology of work, occupations, law, economy and politics, labor, and organizations. Each of these subfields offers important insights into how people operate in the workplace, the costs and politics of labor, and how businesses interact with each other and with other entities like government bodies.

Students of sociology are trained to be keen observers are those around them, which makes them good at anticipating interests, goals, and behavior. Especially in a diversified and globalized corporate world, in which one might work with people of various races, sexualities, nationalities, and cultures, training as a sociologist can develop the perspective and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed today.

Fields and Positions

There are many possibilities in the business world for those with a sociology degree. Depending on your experience and skills, jobs could range from sales associate to business analyst, to human resources, to marketing.

Across business sectors, expertise in organizational theory can inform planning for entire organizations, business development, and training of employees.

Students who have focused on the sociology of work and occupations, and who are trained in diversity and how it affects interactions between people might excel in various human resources roles, and in industrial relations.

A sociology degree is increasingly welcomed in the fields of marketing, public relations, and organization research, where training in research design and execution using both quantitative and qualitative methods, and ability to analyze various kinds of data and draw conclusions from them are very important.

Those who see themselves working in international business development and international trade can draw on training in economic and political sociology, culture, race and ethnic relations, and conflict.

Skill and Experience Requirements

The skills and experience required for a business career will vary depending on the specific job you are seeking. However, besides the coursework in sociology, it is also a good idea to have a general understanding of business concepts and practices.

Having a few business courses under your belt, or even receiving a double major or a minor in business is also a great idea if you know you would like to pursue a career in business. Some schools even offer joint degrees in sociology and business.

To learn more about the way sociologists find success in business, and other career paths they pursue, check out the American Sociological Association's report on the topic.

Updated by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D.