How Do I Become a Social Scientist?

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  • Written By: Haven Esme
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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A social scientist is a professional researcher who examines various aspects of society. Social scientists study human behavior and how past events and achievements affect society. These scientists are needed to provide research to help various institutions and governments respond to change and make decisions for the betterment of society.

To become a social scientist, a person must be concerned with social problems. These scientists are concerned with the causes and solutions to problems that impact humans. In this way, social sciences can be used to enhance quality of life and positively impact groups and communities in society. Social scientists can also offer valuable information about future human activity through their insight into the physical, cultural, and social development of humans. For example, social scientists have been closely monitoring how modern technology and social media networking is affecting face-to-face interaction.

To become a social scientist, it is important that a person meet educational requirements. The field of social science requires an advanced degree, and many social scientists have a master's or PhD in sociology, anthropology, or archeology. When obtaining a degree, education and competence in mathematical and statistics is essential for the research component that is vital in social science work.

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Individuals who want to become a social scientist will also need field experience. Social scientists can gain this experience by volunteering with historical societies, museums, or working with archaeologists or anthropologists to excavate, record and interpret history.

One major factor needed to become a social scientist is the ability to conduct research. Social scientists conduct their research by obtaining information through interviews, laboratory work, and field investigation. Some social scientists must be willing to work and live among the society or culture that they are studying. The social science field is ideal for individuals who are interested in obtaining information about places, people, and ideas. Social scientists must also have great written and verbal communication skills and be able to articulately report their research findings.

A person who decides to become a social scientist should find potential employment in a variety of settings. Many social scientists work at colleges, universities, and government institutions. In government institutions, in particular, social scientists are vital for studying political environments and understanding why social or revolutionary movements occur. Some social scientists devote their time to teaching or authoring books on human behavior. Social scientists are also linked to a variety of other physical science fields, including anthropology, archaeology, cultural studies, geography, social psychology, and international relations.

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Discuss this Article

anon285292
Post 6

Sociology (study of society) vs Social science.

Really, these are two different words for the same thing. You can try to make a distinction in many different ways. I tend to think of "social science" as more research-based, using statistics in particular, often with a specific purpose in mind.

Whereas, I see sociology see as more academic and dealing with the "bigger picture," drawing out long historical trends (or projecting new ones) and the like, less reliant on hard data and more theoretical.

MrMoody
Post 4

@Mammmood - My niece graduated from a college with a degree in International Relations and Affairs. Although in a loose sense it’s a business degree, it clearly falls within social science.

One of the advantages that she brought to the course of study is that she had actually lived overseas in Asia for four years and had also spent some time in Mexico for a summer trip.

She was multi-lingual, and so she had an insider’s perspective on what it was like to live among other cultures and understand their norms and customs. Nowadays if you can bring an international perspective to the table in any new job, you will be more valuable in my opinion.

Mammmood
Post 3

@David09 - While I am not a social scientist, I am very interested in how the social media and the whole Internet have affected our interactions with each other.

I think social science would be invaluable in providing us insight in this regard. The fact is we rarely speak to each other like we used to anymore; texting has become more of the norm for communication, and it has greatly deteriorated our interpersonal relationships in

my opinion.

I’d be curious to know how many people use social networking sites and how many of them have reconnected with long lost friends, for better or worse. I actually tried to close down my Facebook account once and found myself so hooked I had to get back on within two weeks!

I think that action would fall not only under the rubric of social science but behavioral science as well – clearly, I am addict.

David09
Post 2

@miriam98 - Well if you read the article you see that sociology is simply one of the courses that the social scientist must take. This leads me to believe that sociology would be a subset of social science.

Sociology is a behavioral science. It appears that the social scientist is taking a larger view, in examining how historical trends have affected human behaviors, from the description here.

I am sure that the lines between the two can get blurred to some extent but the social scientist tends to have a more big picture view from what I can determine.

miriam98
Post 1

I suppose the obvious question is what is the difference between a social scientist and a sociologist? From the description here I think they share similar traits and educational qualifications.

They both take courses in sociology and many of them pursue higher level degrees. They both make it a point to live within the cultures that they are studying.

The only difference I can see is that maybe the social scientist is dealing with a lot more raw data about how cultural norms affect individual behavior, although even there I suspect there might be some crossover with the sociologist.

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