Liberal arts education in the workplace: What can you do with a liberal arts degree?

Successful liberal arts studentYou’ve probably heard of (or maybe even bought into) the common misconception that obtaining a liberal arts degree will limit your ability to find a job after graduation. Huzzah—you can call your parents with the good news that jobs in fact exist for all majors! All you need to learn is how to articulate the skills you’ve picked up at school, gain knowledge about the job market and recognize what employers seek so you can bust out of the graduation starting gate strong for today’s job market.

As you prepare for your job hunt, you need to know how to properly market yourself and leverage the skills you’ve acquired through your education. A liberal arts education produces the following types of people:

  • strong communicators
  • team players
  • fast learners
  • clever interpreters
  • problem-solvers
  • creative thinkers
  • well-rounded individuals

Now that’s an impressive set of skills that would bring value to any employer!

What can you do with a liberal arts degree?

Liberal arts students have more profitable career options than you might think. Author of Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors Blythe Camenson shares that, despite the unfound prejudice, they are by no means “unemployable.” “In reality, a liberal arts degree, with all its various study areas, opens more employment doors than any other area of professional study. The ability to think creatively, solve problems, and communicate effectively—both verbally and through written word—are skills liberal arts graduates acquire. And, these skills are highly sought by employers in a variety of fields.”

An article called “20 Lucrative Careers You Can Get with a Liberal Arts Degree” on lists twenty job categories with incomes ranging from $50,000 to over $100,000 from job titles such as insurance underwriter, education administrator and business manager. Additionally, a recent study from Georgetown University shows that unemployment rates among liberal arts majors doesn’t differ so drastically from many other majors, and the difference decreases quickly with experience.

Unemployment rates by college major

Greg Bolt shines light on some of the income myths on careers for graduates with Bachelor of Arts degrees his article “Grads Getting Job Skills to Go with Diplomas.” “Students with career-oriented majors do earn more money for the first few years after graduation, but after five years the income graph changes. ‘Then the lines cross and they never cross again.’” B.A. graduates may take a little extra time to discover their callings, but eventually have the potential to supersede other bachelor degrees in income.

Great jobs for liberal arts majors

Ask yourself what you want to do when you graduate. If you answered very specifically like, “I want to be a nurse,” then your path down a professional degree is clear. However, if you’re unsure how to answer, then a liberal arts major might best suit you. The broad education you’ll receive will open up a variety of choices in careers.

Arts and humanities courses will give you a general knowledge in a range of subjects that might inspire your career path. An article called “Career-Oriented Majors and Liberal Arts Majors” on shares just some of the popular liberal arts majors and careers you might choose:

  • Anthropology: archaeologist, museum curator
  • Communications: newspaper reporter, advertising and marketing executive
  • English: writer, editor
  • History: archivist, historian
  • Languages and linguistics: foreign service officer, interpreter
  • Sociology: market researcher, jury consultant

Leveraging a broad background for the changing job market

Today’s evolving job market is always an uncertainty, and the more you can use intellectual ability to differentiate yourself from others in the workplace is important. Joyce Gioia explains in her article “Career Planning for the 21st Century” that the best way to prepare yourself for the changing job market is to obtain a formal liberal arts education in addition to more niche skills that you might gain through internships, volunteer work or extracurriculars. “Job candidates with broad, interdisciplinary backgrounds have become increasingly attractive to employers, and this trend is likely to continue in the future as more professionals are called on to perform an increasingly expanding range of tasks. Students in the liberal arts will be uniquely suited to these looming challenges, having developed a familiarity with a wide variety of ideas in both science and culture.”

Bachelor of arts and science degrees even make you flexible enough to switch careers if you desire. Greg Bolt goes on to explain that “in a job market where people change careers an average of three or four times in their lifetimes, a focused set of skills often leaves a person less able to adapt to a changing marketplace.” Your humanities courses provide you with the fundamentals of writing, the ability to problem-solve and the instinctive resourcefulness that all your future employers will be looking for throughout your professional lifetime.

Develop essential writing skills for landing a job

Regardless of your choice in major, having a solid set of writing skills can not only boost your grades, but also make you attractive to a wider range of employers who expect written communication abilities no matter your degree. Browse the thousands of Questia research topics that will come in handy for your writing projects.

Share with us in the comments below: What’s your major and what career do you want to pursue?

Recommended reading: Famous Liberal Arts Majors


4 replies
  1. Kenny Badaru says:

    This write-up on career opportunities in the liberial arts is a very commendable efforts. Interestingly, the sense in the write-up is not limited to the liberial arts alone but is also applicable to career opportunity in the visual arts. Regretably, the visual arts have alway been viewed from a very myopic perspective of a stereotype notion of what we assume should be the career future of visual artists. The present trend of a broad spectrum training of visual artists open up alot of frontiers yet untapped.

  2. Sultana Sadeque Polly says:

    I am a philosophy graduate .I am a teacher.After reading this I am thinking of changing my profession.I am a good communicator,Good planner ,good problem solver and honest .But I don’t know the job that suits me.

  3. Felipe Ropero says:

    I’m doing two undergraduate programs: International Affairs and Anthropology. I want to work on international business administration and as an academic in Forensic Anthropology and Anthropology of the sexuality.

    I’m planning to do two masteries.: an M.B.A and an M.A. (or M.S. I’m not sure at this moment) on Biological Anthropology.

    Keeping two careers avoids me to get bored and allows me to be interdisciplinary, being able to switch from one field to another. Specially when they are not tightly related.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.