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“What are you going to do with a degree in that?! Do you want to be a teacher?”
When you major in liberal arts, you will probably hear questions like these. It can be challenging to explain how a degree in philosophy or music will lead to a career. That’s particularly true if you don’t want to teach. But there are probably more options than you realize, even if your career choices aren’t as apparent as those for students who pursue an obvious career track like Accounting or Nursing. Liberal arts majors possess skills that are in demand—and they can qualify for many different kinds of jobs.
Surveys by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) show that most hiring managers care more about a job candidate’s skills than they do about a college major.
The skills employers say they want most in a candidate, such as communication and critical thinking, are precisely those for which liberal arts students are known.
Those who study liberal arts can pursue a range of careers.
Most entry-level positions require people who can learn quickly and solve problems; the specifics are taught on the job. “A general college degree is the major entry-level credential you need,” says author and speaker Donald Asher. “Employers are looking for the skills a candidate has to offer.”
Experts say, and a 2007 NACE survey confirms, that the most important skill employers seek in job candidates is the ability to communicate effectively. Employers also look for a strong work ethic, teamwork, initiative, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving and analytical abilities. These are the very kinds of abilities honed by coursework in the humanities and social sciences.
The same NACE survey shows that liberal arts graduates worked in a variety of industries, including retail trade and social assistance. And they worked in a range of career fields, from management to sales to graphic arts.
Liberal arts majors who are passionate about their studies are at an advantage in the job market, experts say. Interest in the classroom often translates to eagerness in a job search and enthusiasm in an interview. And the ability to confidently articulate their ideas—a hallmark of liberal arts training—may be these jobseekers’ best justification of all for having chosen their major.
-Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics by Diana Gehlhaus
Potential Careers After Majoring in a Humanities Field
- Graduates with a major in English or other Humanities subject areas enter an array of fields including nonprofit agencies, television and radio broadcasting, journalism, advertising, strategic communications, education, social justice advocacy, media relations, marketing communications, internal communications, investor relations, corporate social responsibility, government relations and crisis management. They also pursue graduate degrees in literature, law, communications, higher education administration, and business.
- Our graduates find careers in: Nonprofit Agencies, Television/Radio/Website Communications, Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism, Publishing, Human Resources, Teaching, and Business.