Police at an ISU football game

The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice is guided by a vision to create and disseminate knowledge that advances the well-being of all people. We will prepare you to lead fulfilling careers through critical thinking and the analysis of pressing social issues. Whether you’re interested in law enforcement, forensic science, social work, or rural policymaking, Iowa State has everything you need to unearth your full career potential.

Career planning and preparation

Looking for help in putting together the perfect resume or cover letter? Or maybe you are looking for an internship or even some mock interviews for an upcoming job? LAS Career Services and CALS Career Services can help you with all of these and more.

Career Outlooks

Agricultural and Rural Policy Studies

Policy-related jobs are expected to grow 6 to 9% over the next decade, faster than other jobs nationally.1 Starting pay with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural policy-related fields range from $58,850 to $64,650.2 For students with exceptional academics and internships, starting pay can be as high as $77,500. After five years of experience or a graduate degree, pay typically ranges from $92,150 to $108,900.

Based on alumni surveys, agricultural and rural policy studies graduates found rewarding careers as policy and legislative advisors, lobbyists, agriculture and farmer relations specialists, government affairs specialists, community and economic developers, city clerks and city managers, public information or communications specialists and more. In addition, the degree proved valuable for graduate work including law school.

Criminal Justice

The job outlook for criminal justice careers is expected to grow 3% from 2022-20323. Median pay for a career as a police officer or detective is about $69,160 per year or $33.25 per hour. The average salary for a criminal investigator was $91,610 in 2022 and expected to increase4.

A degree in criminal justice opens doors to a diverse range of career paths including law enforcement, paralegals and legal assistants, and public safety. Other graduates work within the justice system to rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals. Opportunities in the private sector include security management, forensic science, or leadership positions within criminal justice organizations.


Sociology-related jobs are expected to grow 5% over the next decade which is faster than most professions. Since a sociology degree lends itself to many different career choices, its salary ranges are just as diverse. A sociologist can expect a median salary of $98,590 per year, whereas a social worker averages about $55,350 per year. Human resources specialists have a median salary of $64,240 per year4.

Other careers common to sociology graduates include market research analyst, legislative aid, urban planner, admissions counselor, teacher, and a variety of human resources careers.

James Kruse

Alumni Careers: James Kruse

Medicolegal death investigator with the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny, Iowa.

1 Based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook for 2019-2029
2 Based on federal government pay ranges for USDA policy analyst positions in Des Moines IA, step 1 pay bands of GS-10/11/12 and GS-13/14/15.
3 Based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook for 2022-2032
4 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022