How Does That Make You Feel? Get into IT with a Sociology or Psychology Degree
Helping and understanding people are noble causes to pursue, which is why there are degrees in sociology and psychology. But what if you have the sheepskin in hand, but no job prospects on the horizon? Sure, you could go for your master's and doctorate, but that takes a lot of time and money. Are you sure you will even enjoy the work once you've taken all that time (and not to mention, student loans) in getting the advanced degree? Did you know that many of the skills possessed by sociology and psychology degree holders are the same skills necessary to get into the IT field? From analyzing statistical data to relating to people, your training in the social sciences will only make you more hirable in a career in technology.
From –ologies to IT
No doubt it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to earn a degree in sociology or psychology. Maybe your parents asked you, “What are you going to do with that?” when you told them what you wanted to major in.
When it comes to finding a job in either field, it's tough to find something that doesn't require an advanced degree. And if you do find something in your field, there's a chance it could be emotionally draining work that doesn't leave you in any shape for a fulfilling personal life. Perhaps you are searching for a job in your chosen field and are burned out in the endeavor before you even get your foot in the door.
Information technology can use people with sociology and/or psychology degrees. In fact, there are top IT jobs that deal with analyzing behavior and helping people, both things that someone with a sociology or psychology degree can (and likely wants to) do.
People, Behavior and IT
Just because you got a degree in a social science doesn't mean you are down for the count when it comes to getting a job in IT – there are information technology jobs out there that you may not have considered. IT jobs in analytics, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence – to name a few – need people with a social science background to analyze and interpret behavior.
For example, are you familiar with security analysts? A security analyst is responsible for detecting cyber-threats and coming up with ways to ensure a company's safety against these threats. The average salary for this job is $92,600.
The following are responsibilities of a security analyst:
- Manages and configures tools to monitor network activity
- Analyzes reports to identify unusual network behavior
- Proactively identifies network vulnerabilities through penetration testing, vulnerability scans and vulnerability assessment reports
- Plans and recommends changes to increase the security of the network
- Applies security patches to protect the network
Your ability to read and analyze data, learned in your social science schooling, would mean that you could build on your analytical skills to obtain a job like this one.
Now, security analyst is not an entry-level position, but remember, every career journey starts with an entry-level role. Here are two entry-level positions that could set you on your way to a career in cybersecurity.
|Help Desk Technician||Computer Support Analyst|
|Salary||$52,160 average||$52,160 average|
|Availability||“Normal” work hours||Generally requires some nights and weekends|
|Work–Life Balance||Can leave work at the office||Can leave work at the office|
Possible Career Path
|Help Desk Technician → End User Support Specialist → Network Administrator*||Computer Support Analyst → Coder → Software Developer*|
|Training||College degree not necessary, but certifications are beneficial||Associates degree or post-secondary classes often required|
|Job Outlook||12% growth expected||10% growth expected|
Estimated Time to Career Change
(Statistics and information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; items marked with an asterisk (*) are from itcareerfinder.com.)
If you are thinking about an information technology career but are wondering if you have what it takes to succeed in the tech world, know that your training in the social sciences have prepared you for an IT career, too. IT isn't just sitting around in a dark room, alone, coding. There is much more to it than that! According to Western Washington University, people with degrees in sociology or psychology are likely to have the following skills:
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Analytical skills
- Ability to interpret research and statistics
- Computer literacy
- Cross-cultural understanding
- Business sense
When it comes to top IT jobs, employers are looking for people with these skills especially. Of course in any IT job, computer literacy is a must, but there aren't a lot of jobs out there any more where it isn't. Once you have these skills nailed down – and no doubt you do – it's just a matter of finding the right information technology career. Taking our free career quiz is a great start to figuring out which career path is right for you.
Stepping Stones to an IT Career
Once you've figured out which IT position would be the best fit for you, study up on how to make your potential new career happen.
You don't necessarily need another degree to make a career change to IT – you can complete training on your own or in a classroom and earn certifications in a matter of months versus years, like a college degree. CompTIA CertMaster, for example, are self-paced online learning courses that you can do from home in your comfy clothes, and they're a heck of a lot cheaper than investing the money (and time!) in another degree program.
Even if you choose the instructor-led route in a physical classroom, it rarely costs more than a few thousand dollars, making it a much cheaper investment than a traditional college or graduate school.
As for practical experience, talk with someone in the job you can see yourself doing and pick their brain. How did that person start? Tinker around on your own computer or help a relative with their technology problems. Volunteer to help a nonprofit with their IT stuff – like configuring a network printer – or ask your local library if you can teach a technology for seniors class one afternoon. Whatever it is you want to do, take the time to dip your toes in the water and try it out. Not only will you get more of a sense of what you'd like to do, you'll gain valuable experience as well!
- Lean on those certifications to prove to employers that you have the technical chops for the role.
- Get some hands-on experience in whatever way you can.
- And highlight all of those traits and training that came with your sociology or psychology degree! You worked hard for that piece of paper, and the skills you learned along the way are valuable to the tech world.
What's the First Thing I Should Do?
Don't forget to take our free career quiz to see what IT career best matches your skills. It will help you shape where you want to go and what you want to do with your sociology or psychology degree. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…this is that step for your IT career.