Educational attainment of social scientists is among the highest of all occupations. The Ph.D. or equivalent degree is a minimum requirement for most positions in colleges and universities and is important for advancement to many top level nonacademic research and administrative posts. Graduates with master's degrees in applied specialties generally have better professional opportunities outside of colleges and universities, although the situation varies by field. For example, job prospects for master's degree holders in urban or regional planning are brighter than for master's degree holders in history.
Graduates with a master's degree in a social science qualify for teaching positions in junior colleges. Bachelor's degree holders have limited opportunities and in most social science occupations do not qualify for "professional" positions.
The bachelor's degree does, however, provide a suitable background for many different kinds of entry level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management or sales trainee. With the addition of sufficient education courses, social science graduates also can qualify for teaching positions in secondary and elementary schools.
Training in statistics and mathematics is essential for many social scientists. Mathematical and quantitative research methods are increasingly used in economics, geography, political science, experimental psychology, and other fields. The ability to use computers for research purposes is mandatory in most disciplines.
Depending on their jobs, social scientists and urban planners may need a wide range of personal characteristics. Because they constantly seek new information about people, things, and ideas, intellectual curiosity and creativity are fundamental personal traits.
The ability to think logically and methodically is important to a political scientist comparing the merits of various forms of government. The ability to analyze data is important to an economist studying proposals to reduce Federal budget deficits.
Objectivity, open mindedness and systematic work habits are important in all kinds of social science research. Perseverance is essential for an anthropologist, who might spend years accumulating artifacts from an ancient civilization. Emotional stability and sensitivity are vital to a clinical psychologist working with mental patients. Written and oral communication skills are essential for all these professionals.