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A demographer is a scientist who researches vital statistics relevant to density and population growth. Demographers are often referred to as population sociologists as they make observations and predictions on the causes and effects of population changes, as well as compile information about members of the population. A master’s degree or Ph.D. in a relevant field, mathematical skills and research experience offer a strong foundation for those seeking to become a demographer.
Many demographers study statistics or sociology during their undergraduate schooling. Some may obtain work-study positions on population-related research projects while pursuing bachelor’s degree. Research experience as an undergraduate student is a valuable asset for those who move on to apply for graduate schooling.
Most will need a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in sociology or statistics to become a demographer. Those with an undergraduate degree may find work as research assistants on various demographic-related projects but are unlikely to secure lead positions or head their own research projects. A master’s level of education has the potential to offer many more job opportunities, as well as the freedom and autonomy to work on specialized areas of interest.
Demographers should be comfortable working with complex data and be able to analyze, interpret and make accurate predictions based on information produced by the research. Strong skills in mathematics, statistics and probability theories are helpful for those studying to become a demographer. Experience working with statistical modeling software may also be useful and desired by future employers.
It is usually best to begin working on research projects as early as possible during the education process. Many begin research work during undergraduate schooling, but serving as a research assistant is typically a requirement during master’s studies. To become a demographer and gain necessary experience, research projects typically focus on the contributing factors to population changes, such as immigration or birth rates. Research includes the collection of statistical data, identification of current trends and predictions of future trends based on collected data.
There are many employment avenues available to those seeking jobs in the demographics industry. Many demographers are employed by government agencies to research information about certain groups of the national populations. For example, some government agencies may need information on the percentage of women in a state or country that hold bachelor’s degrees. Immigration research may also be requested to help the government develop appropriate immigration policies.
In the United States, some demographers may find employment with the Bureau of Census or with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Marketing and advertising agencies may employ demographers to better assess clientele and address their audience. Other companies may hire demographers to predict future population trends in an area where the company is considering expanding.