A social science degree is a powerful academic foundation. According to Portland State University, this course of study provides students with the opportunity to develop skills employers value in their employees, such as oral and written communication, interpersonal, teamwork, technical, analytical, critical thinking, organizational and problem-solving skills. The degree is like a resume that writes itself. What you do with this degree depends completely on your personal interests.
An interest in social science may also indicate a desire to help people improve their lives. A social worker’s role is to directly help people cope with issues in everyday life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers help people deal with relationship or family troubles or help clients who face a disability, a life-threatening disease or a social problem, such as inadequate housing, unemployment or substance abuse. They may also be involved in child- or spousal-abuse cases.
A social science degree combined with a teaching certificate is a great way to get into K-12 teaching or adjunct teaching positions at the university level. Portland State University lists kindergarten teachers, elementary teachers, high school teachers, adjunct professors, academic advisers and library technicians as positions obtained by recent graduates of its social science program.
Government and nonprofit organizations have many administrative positions, and social science graduates are well suited for the roles, according to the University of Alaska’s School of Arts and Sciences. From office administrators and executive director positions in charity organizations to government program offices, social science students have a wide array of options when it comes to their career paths.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, each state also requires that applicants complete a licensing program before becoming social workers. The median salary earned by social workers in 2012 was $44,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries vary according to the type of industry. Paraprofessionals employed as social and human services assistants are not licensed and work to assist social workers in many cases, but their pay is considerably lower.
2016 Salary Information for Social Workers
Social workers earned a median annual salary of $47,460 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, social workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $36,790, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $60,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 682,000 people were employed in the U.S. as social workers.
- Portland State University: What Can I Do With a Degree in Social Science?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
- University of Alaska Southeast: Welcome to the Social Sciences Department
- Kansas State University: Social Science
- University of Maryland University College: Major in Social Science
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
- Career Trend: Social Workers
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.