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.

  • 47%

    of UK students graduate from university with a social science degree.

  • Economics, law, politics, business studies and geography

    are among the top 10 disciplines for lifetime graduate earnings.

  • 60%

    of global leaders have undergraduate degrees in social science fields, including 61% of politicians.

  • Essential for business

    Companies across all sectors use social science knowledge and skills to run their business including: understanding their markets, clients, suppliers and consumers; analysing and managing risk; developing new products and ways of working; and in research, human resources, finance and accounting, law, strategic planning and leadership.

  • 86%

    of UK-domiciled first degree graduates in social science were employed five years after graduation, compared to 88% for STEM and 85% for arts and humanities.

  • Data skills

    Social scientists combine numerical and data skills with their social science skills and knowledge and apply this to real world problems, which is highly valued by employers.

“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
  • Find your career in psychology

    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