CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 16, 2015
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How to Become a Demographer in the US

Demography is the study of human populations. Demographers research several aspects of a population. They can, for instance, tell us the number of births and deaths that occurred in a certain region over a given period of time. Through their investigations, they are able to determine the fertility of a population or areas that are more likely to consume a new product. If you love social sciences and possess an inquisitive mind, you could become a competent demographer.

What Do Demographers Do?

The primary duties of demographers include:

  • Gathering statistical data on a population that is under study
  • Analyzing this data and drawing appropriate conclusions – This involves determining the cause of population shifts
  • Using their conclusions to forecast population density, growth, and trends
  • Drafting technical research reports and presenting them to clients – This may involve mapping the population data.

It’s important to note demographers are crucial to a country’s growth and development. Governments often use their projections to formulate and enact suitable health, housing and social care policies.

Work Environment

Demographers work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Although this is a largely office-based profession, many demographers spend some of their workday outdoors gathering information.

The job may call for extensive traveling since you may be tasked with studying the demographics of populations in local and foreign regions.

Salary

What is the average annual salary for demographers? Find out below:

Occupation

Annual Wage

Demographer

$53,160

Source: SchhoolsintheUSA.com

Entry Requirements

To become a demographer, you need to complete the following steps:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in economics, mathematics, political science, statistics or any other closely related field – An undergraduate degree prepares you for graduate school, and can as also enable you to find an entry-level job in demography.
  • Earn a master’s degree in demography –The program typically covers topics in population analysis, demographics methods, economic demography and practical computer applications in demography.

Examples of universities offering graduate degrees in demography include:

Important Qualities

To be a competent demographer you need:

  • An interest in social science and populations
  • Superb research skills
  • Excellent skills in information acquisition and analysis
  • Strong speaking and report writing skills
  • An aptitude for numbers and good math skills
  • Good project management skills – For demographers who lead research projects
  • Good decision making skills.

Career Progression

Many demographers begin as field researchers, after which they advance to senior positions. To fast-track you progression:

  • Gain vast research experience
  • Pursue a Doctoral degree in demography – Many universities also offer fellowship programs that could help steer your career to the next level
  • Join a professional association, such as the Population Association of America – PAA provides a platform for publishing research reports, which you could utilize to build your professional reputation.

Job Opportunities

The employers of demographers include:

  • Government agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau
  • Planning and mapping organizations
  • Local governments
  • Market research firms
  • International aid organizations, such as the United Nations
  • Political organizations.

With vast research experience, you can become a senior demographer. A Doctoral degree opens doors for teaching jobs in universities, as well as policy analysis positions in government agencies.

According to the BLS, the employment of social scientists such as demographers will grow by 11 percent – just as fast as the average growth for all jobs – between 2012 and 2022.

So if you have a deep interest in societal research, this can be a fulfilling profession for you.

 

Image: iStock

 

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