Cashing in on a Liberal Education


We’ve all heard it before: “You can’t make a career out of a liberal arts degree.” How true is this modern proverb?

If the data is correct, it appears that liberal arts grads are more likely to find a job than their peers who studied architecture, with respective unemployment rates of 9.4 and 13.9 percent. College students who study law and public policy only do a bit better, with an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.

It’s difficult to track liberal arts careers, as only about 20 percent of these grads head into a single concentrated industry. This fact seems to speak for a well-rounded education, at least, leading graduates down numerous different career paths. Of course, the term liberal arts degree could refer to any subject from English to Sociology. By comparison, 75 percent of students who major in education go on to find work in the education industry.

There are many common professions for liberal arts grads, depending on their realm of expertise – proving, as it turns out, that you can in fact make a living with such an education. English majors, for example, most often go on to be writers or editors. Many anthropology majors most often become archaeologists or museum curators. Those who study languages in school head into careers as interpreters or foreign services officers. Sociology students often become market researchers or jury consultants. College students interested in communications go on to become newspaper reporters or take jobs as advertising or marketing executives.

Statistics also show that the more education one has, the higher the average income. At the moment there is a 6.1 percent unemployment rate for an experienced college grad and a 3.9 unemployment rate for those who hold master’s degrees. These numbers also suggest that more education makes candidates more appealing to employers.

Liberal arts degree holders can get a leg up on the job market in four ways. First, they can supplement their studies with an internship or an entry level job in their field. Also, in addition to their regular studies, they can take a few classes beyond the standard university requirements. Next, as job candidates, it’s important for liberal arts students to know their own strengths. Third, these students should expand their job search outside their realm of study – today, English majors can become market researchers and history majors can land a position at an investment bank. Finally, students should be able to prove their skill set with a list of their achievements.

Liberal Arts Degrees: Can They Still Get You a Job?

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