10 Lesser-Known Fields in Social Science

by Editor on Mar 22, 2012

Social science is a branch of learning that examines society and its institutions, including history, structures, theoretical foundations, and evolution of those environments. A social scientist also studies interrelationships, or how human behavior shapes society and how that society adapts to human behaviors. Social science graduates have a variety of career options, and the most obvious ones include historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, and geographer. But, some interdisciplinary courses can open even more doors to the following list of careers, which range from archivists to writers and from cartographers to economists. These careers might provide insight into how you can branch out with a social science major into a career that fits your goals and desires.

  1. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero reviews documents with George Bush Presidential Library and Museum Supervisory Archivist Robert Holzweiss.Archivists, curators, and museum technicians have backgrounds in social sciences and a love for history, education, and research. Archivists and curators may coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes, and may work with the boards of institutions to administer plans and policies. They also may research topics or items relevant to their collections. Museum technicians, commonly known as registrars, assist curators by performing various preparatory and maintenance tasks on museum items. Registrars may also answer public inquiries and assist curators and outside scholars in using collections. Archives technicians help archivists organize, maintain, and provide access to historical documentary materials. A good way to break into this career before you graduate with a bachelor’s degree is to offer your services as an intern at a museum or archive.
  2. Cartographers love geography, but also have a thing for maps and for creating maps. While social science and geography can provide an excellent background for cartography, you’ll also need a good understanding of mathematics and its relationship to maps. While some software can lessen the math requirements needed for creating maps, an understanding of scale, coordinates, and projection can help you succeed in this career. You might also collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data. The ability to research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for legal, social, political, educational, and design purposes is useful experience.
  3. Economists study how society distributes resources, such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery, to produce goods and services. Your social sciences background, along with studies in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics to more philosophical courses, such as the history of economic thought, are helpful. Because of the importance of quantitative skills to economists, courses in mathematics, statistics, econometrics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science are extremely helpful.
  4. Environmental planning requires education in social and natural sciences, business, and other disciplines depending on a specialty within the field. This is a young field that combines concerns for the environment and the field of urban planning, but you can find job offers at the local, state, and federal levels. Opportunities in this field include analysis of complex environmental planning problems; creation of feasible solutions; coordination across constituencies and disciplines; and recommendations that efficiently integrate natural systems into the full set of systems necessary for healthy and sustainable communities. Strong organizational skills with proficiency in quantitative analysis and designing can help you to be more successful. You should also have good communication skills to present your cause for the environment with ample proof.
  5. Society of GenealogistsGenealogists, otherwise known as “social historians,” can make nice sums for their research into other people’s families. Social science provides a great background for this work, as you can combine history with writing to produce some relevant work. A certification in this field, along with your bachelor’s degree and a love for musty archives are important assets. Along the same lines, biographers can combine their social science major with a love for writing to produce memoirs and current or historical biographies. History is full of life stories many of which have lain untouched or neglected. Perhaps the material was previously inaccessible, or there might be a fresh slant on the subject as the archives of other countries become available. You’ll also need to have a penchant for research, interviewing, and possibly some collaboration.
  6. Geoscientists and hydrologists usually study and work in one of several closely related geosciences fields, including geology, geophysics, and hydrology. Hydrologists often specialize in either underground water or surface water. They examine the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, its movement through the Earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere. While workers in these fields spend time in offices, others divide their time between fieldwork and office or laboratory work. Work at remote field sites is common. If you like risk, some specialists such as volcanologists often take field trips that involve significant physical activity and some danger. A bachelor’s degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but most geoscientists and hydrologists need a master’s degree.
  7. Public consulting requires coursework in politics, government, business, economics, and other fields; but, the range of opportunities is amazing. The choices include management, scientific and technical consulting as well as promotions of goods and services at the local, state, or federal levels. You might also seek a position as a public administrator, or as a technical or graphic designer, or branch out into environmental or occupational safety consulting. This is one field that can provide a multitude of options, and your choices would depend upon your strengths and goals.
  8. Tourism management and policy is very similar to advertising, marketing, and promotions and to the hospitality industry; however, this career can offer ways to satisfy your cravings for history, geography, and social constructs, too. You can become an event planner, learn how to develop and promote an area’s attractions to build a local tax base, and hone your administrative, human resource management, and strategic skills as well. Public relations skills come into play here, too, as you plan and direct public relations programs designed to create and maintain a favorable public image for your employer or client. You also can learn how to deflect negative public relations — a skill that is highly sought after by many corporations.
  9. Urban Aerial TextureUrban and regional planners promote the best use of a community’s land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes. They address environmental, economic, and social health issues of a community as it grows and changes. Urban and regional planners often work with land developers, civic leaders, and public officials and may function as mediators in community disputes, presenting alternatives that are acceptable to opposing parties. Most entry-level jobs in federal, state, and local governments require a master’s degree from an accredited program in urban or regional planning or a related field, such as urban design, environmental planning, or geography.
  10. Writers, and especially editors, require education in journalism or English, but any college student must learn how to write. Your background in social sciences could lend itself to technical writing as well as historic writing and biographies (as noted above). An increasing number of writers today are freelance writers (self-employed), and make their living by selling their written content to book and magazine publishers, news organizations, advertising agencies, or movie, theater, or television producers or by working under contract with an organization. This type of writing can offer a great deal of freedom from the 9-5 workday, as you can choose your own hours. The competition is keen in this industry, so start networking and writing now to build a portfolio.