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Long before you walk across the stage at graduation, you should start your career preparation.

We recommend that students begin exploring career options as soon as they declare their sociology major or in their sophomore year. So, what should you do to start planning for your career? Want to jump right to our list of sample jobs that our alumni have held? Click here.


The ability to understand and analyze social behavior is an important skill in many fields. Other key skills that sociology courses cultivate in students include: 

  • The development of “systems” thinking and an understanding how different parts of larger social systems interact; 
  • Identifying complex social problems and their solutions; 
  • Evaluating multiple sources of information and distilling relevant facts and trends to inform a particular issue or problem; 
  • Deep understanding of cultural and social divides that can impact group dynamics in professional settings and strategies for overcoming those divides; 
  • Knowledge of research methods and statistics necessary to understand research-based information sources; 
  • The ability to communicate with diverse audiences in culturally appropriate ways through a variety of mediums (online, written, oral); 
  • Project design and management. 

These skills can be applied in a number of specific industries and will often qualify students for careers in a range of management, research, and other careers. 

Career Planning & Resource Center

Students should also regularly utilize the resources available through the Career Planning and Resource Center at UWM. The center is about more than resume preparation. The career professionals there can help you identify your professional goals and teach you techniques (like informational interviewing and shadowing) to learn more about professional careers. They can also help you develop your job search strategy, help you locate an internship, or connect you with UWM alumni who may be able to provide you with information or advice in a particular industry or career.

Engage with Faculty

We also recommend that our students cultivate relationships with our faculty and engage them in this process. Do your professors have contacts in a particular area or industry? Can they help you translate the skills and knowledge you have gained so that they are clear to potential employers?  Cultivating and maintaining a professional network while you are a student at UWM is good practice and can be a source of information and support as you continue to develop as a professional. 

Listen to Alumni

I am a commercial lines underwriter at Acuity Insurance. As an underwriter, I analyze information from a number of sources to determine if we want to write an account, the coverages we are willing to offer, and the premium. Studying sociology at UWM helped me develop the analytical and problem-solving that I apply to my position every day.  

Often times, there is no “right or wrong.” Life is full of gray areas, and it’s my job to determine the best course of action with the information that is available. I must be able to problem solve, and come up with my own research based solutions/opinions, because there are often times where I am working in uncharted waters. Taking the research methods course helped me build confidence in the decisions I make. 

Overall, my sociology degree is crucial to my job performance, and helped prepare me for the complexities of the job

Lindsey Bouwens ’15Underwriter, Acuity Insurance

In addition to moving directly into the workforce after graduation, UWM sociology students can also continue their education in master’s, PhD, and professional degree programs. Sociology students go on to pursue advanced education in sociology, the law, social work, criminal justice, higher education administration, public policy, and other programs.

A crucial part of understanding and learning the law is being able to clearly analyze the policy implications that result from it. The courts will often justify a ruling by looking to see whether or not it will result in good or bad public policy. A sociology degree from UWM has prepared me to effectively approach and analyze the difficult legal issues presented by the courts’ decisions, especially those that implicate social policy.

Both education and practice in the law require intensive research skills. Though legal research is different than social research, I attribute the ease of which I learned how to conduct legal research from the social research skills I obtained at UWM. Looking forward, my education in sociology will continuously bolster the important ability of understanding my clients’ backgrounds and needs, which will help me better serve them with legal aid.

Finally, I stress the importance of utilizing college education to build a network of colleagues and faculty members, which the UWM sociology department easily facilitates with a highly approachable and friendly faculty.

Dayton Dunbar ’19Law School

Sample Career Outcomes

Most students choose to major in sociology because they enjoy people and want to use their interpersonal communication skills in their work. Thus, careers in human resources, social services, education law, marketing, criminal justice, and fundraising are common. A sampling of jobs that our sociology alumni have held include the following. Some professions require a graduate degree.

Employment and Training Specialist, State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
Program Manager, UMOS (United Migrant Opportunity Services)
Grant Compliance Manager, City of Milwaukee
Marketing Coordinator, Kohl’s
Guidance Counselor, Chicago Public Schools
Outreach Manager, Milwaukee Country Department of Health and Human Services
Compliance Manager, Johnson Controls 
Employment Services Coordinator, Interfaith Older Adult Programs, Inc.    
Case Manager, Wisconsin Community Services 
Human Resources Manager, Kohler Co.      
Attorney, Amnudsen Davis Law 
Service Coordinator, Penfield Children’s Center
Technical Writer, U.S. Bank 
Human Resources Coordinator, Northwestern University         
Development Associate, Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin 
Claims Examiner, Wausau Insurance
Reporter, Neighborhood News Service
Employee Benefits Specialist, Aurora Healthcare       
Underwriter, Northwestern Mutual
Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau 
Police Officer, City of Milwaukee 
Regulatory Specialist, Direct Supply