Careers in Social Science

Earnings and Employment

Contrary to popular perception, social science graduates earn about as much as STEM graduates and more than those who studied humanities and arts subjects.

  • Economics graduates

    Economics graduates are among the highest earners from all disciplines.

  • Politics and geography

    Politics and geography graduates earn more, on average, than graduates in biosciences.

  • Thousands

    Thousands of social science graduates work for government and many are members of the analytical and policy professions. Analytical professions include economics, geography, social research, statistics and operations research.

  • UK businesses

    UK businesses across all sectors draw heavily on a wide range of social science knowledge and skills, and consider them to be essential to their success.

  • Companies

    Companies use social science knowledge and skills to run their business; understand suppliers, markets and consumers; analyse and manage risk; develop new products or ways of working; and in research, strategic planning and leadership.

  • Data skills

    Combining number and data skills with social science knowledge and approaches is particularly valued by employers of all sorts.

“Generally, the people we hire are reasonably numerate with strong problem-solving skills, no matter what degree they did. But we increasingly value empathy, social skills, and judgement. The ability to form a reasoned opinion, often without complete information, as most real-life situations demand, is key to our jobs.”


(Deloitte, 2020)

“When evolving the strategy of the company, we absolutely need to have expertise in our employee base that draws on all of the disciplines of the social sciences, and to take expert advice and soundings from the outside world to challenge our thinking and help it evolve.”

(Diageo, 2020)

“As an engineering consultancy, WSP has many projects that will be more engineering led, but social scientists play an essential role in providing challenge and ensuring solutions are applicable in a real-world situation. They provide a different voice and a different way of thinking.”

(WSP, 2020)

Careers for Social Scientists

  • Research and enquiry
  • Numbers and data
  • Visualisation & IT
  • Ability to integrate ideas and evidence from multiple sources
  • Ability to interrogate, evaluate and summarise evidence
  • Ability to construct logical arguments and reasoned opinions
  • Ability to understand complex issues holistically and systematically
  • Ability to understand processes of change
  • Ability to question assumptions
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Working in teams
  • Interpersonal and social skills, judgement
  • Empathy and ability to understand different perspectives
  • Understand people and their range of behaviours
  • Sensitivity to social issues, diversity and sustainability
  • PLUS many subject-specific skills
  • Administration & general management
  • Business management
  • Central government: civil service
  • Charities, fundraising & social enterprise
  • Economics & business analysis
  • Education & training
  • Financial services & accountancy
  • Human resources
  • Journalism & media
  • Law and legal services
  • Local government
  • Marketing
  • Planning, transport & housing
  • Project management
  • Public relations & public affairs
  • Social work
  • Research services
  • Tourism and travel services

Resources for Students and Graduates

  • Careers for social scientists

    Academy of Social Sciences Social Science general View
  • Positive Prospects

    Academy of Social Sciences Social Science general View
  • Vital Business

    Academy of Social Sciences Social Science general View
  • What can I do with my degree?

    Prospects Social Science general View
  • Why hiring social scientists is the next big thing

    Guild Digital Limited (2018) Social Science general View
  • Discover Anthropology

    Royal Anthropological Institute Anthropology View
  • Discover Economics: careers in economics

    Royal Economic Society Economics View
  • Choosing a career with geography

    Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Geography View
  • Become a planner

    Royal Town Planning Institute Planning View
  • Demystifying careers in government and politics

    Political Studies Association Politics View
  • Become a psychologist

    The British Psychological Society Psychology View
  • Sociologist Careers

    British Sociological Association Sociology View
  • Use geography: webinars and resources

    Royal Geographical Society Geography View
  • Guidance on developing your career

    Royal Geographical Society Geography View
  • Career profiles: #iamageographer

    Royal Geographical Society Geography View
  • For graduates

    Royal Geographical Society Geography View
  • Careers in social policy

    Social Policy Association Social Policy View
  • Careers in evaluation

    UK Evaluation Society Evaluation View
  • Careers in social research

    Social Research Association Social Research View