Social science primarily studies the social life of individuals and groups. Social science is made up of many different disciplines catering to specific subjects. Social scientists are well trained professionals that study and research all characteristics of society including group relationships, human behaviors, past events and accomplishments, decision making and change agents etc. It is their job to conduct extensive research and inform the public and organizations about different aspects of human life. They play a crucial role in suggesting solutions to governmental, personal, business, environmental and social problems. Social scientists thrive on research and analyses. They collect facts and create new theories. Their modus operandi includes making questionnaire, interviewing people from different demographic locations and experimenting. They also perform field investigations for more concrete findings.
Social science does not work in isolation. It is an umbrella branch under which there are different fields of study. This discipline offers career options like sociologists, social scientists, market researchers, urban planners, political scientists, geographers, anthropologists and archaeologists. A social scientist needs to specialize in a certain field and thereafter, conduct researches and make recommendations about how the resultant findings can be used to improve society through a variety of measures. It is a very interesting field that involves lots of analysis, research, data synthesis and fieldwork.
To become a social scientist, ideally one should have a master’s degree or Ph.D. in his/her field. Those looking to make a career in teaching and researching at a college or university require a Ph.D. as basic qualification. For entry level assistant jobs like management trainee, research assistant and teaching positions in elementary and middle schools, a bachelor’s degree suffices but it can’t take one too far in this field. Social scientists also study technical and mathematical fields like statistical software programs and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) etc. The knowledge of mathematical and quantitative research methods has become very vital in the field of social science. Field experience and internships play a crucial role in the careers of social scientists. One can find internships at nonprofit organizations, local museums, government agencies and volunteer research agencies.
A social scientist can also obtain required license and certification from accredited bodies. For instance, those willing to make career in geography science, can opt for voluntary certification programs offered by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). To make it big in this field, one needs to have excellent written and oral communication skills, ability to think logically and methodically and systematic attention to detail. Data is perhaps the most useful thing for a scientist so he should be able to collect and organize research data properly. The demand for social scientists is not going to slow down in near future. Need for research works in different fields, urban planners and geographers etc will drive the job opportunities for qualified and experienced social scientists.
In India, some of the institutes offering courses in social science are:-
Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
University of Delhi, Delhi
Karve Institute of Social Science, Poona University, Pune
Palli Sangthan Vibhag (Rural Reconstructions College), Vishwa Bharati University, Shantiniketan
Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi
Institute of Social Sciences, Agra