Jul 22

The True Value of a Liberal Arts Degree

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A liberal arts education provides a solid foundation in a wide range of subject areas. Students majoring in liberal arts will encounter concepts and subjects from art, science, and mathematics. A liberal arts education equips you with general knowledge and career-relevant skills that can help you succeed in a variety of occupations.

 

Studying history, literature, writing, philosophy, sociology, psychology, the creative arts, and other subjects are all part of a liberal arts education. The goal of a liberal arts education is to improve your ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve issues.

 

According to Torian Parker, a career advisor at Southern New Hampshire University, pursuing a liberal arts degree can provide you with “a plethora of colors to paint with to create a bright career image” (SNHU). This is because the degree programs are created to foster the development of soft skills like:

  • Collaboration

  • Creativity

  • Critical Analysis

  • Successful communication

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According to Parker, liberal arts majors have a special potential to explore a variety of employment areas by using a holistic approach with these talents. Getting a liberal arts degree might be a good method to convince companies that you have the abilities to contribute in a variety of professions.

 

What Does Liberal Arts Mean?

The word “liberal arts” is broad and can refer to everything from economics to theater.

 

Instead of imparting on you the specialized skills required for a professional vocation, this discipline aims to provide you general knowledge, the capacity to think critically, and the ability to master any subject. Liberal arts centers on honing writing skills, critical thinking, and research techniques.

 

The advantages of having a liberal arts degree extend far beyond the understanding of a particular subject that comes with it. Liberal arts majors have a wide range of career options accessible to them when it comes time to enter the job market, including many in business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

 

What Are the Benefits of a Liberal Arts Degree?

Nearly all liberal arts degrees can, with additional training, lead to careers in education, enabling graduates—with the necessary credentials—to share their interest with others. These degrees are also well suited for additional research and studies as well. Many liberal arts majors also have a strong need to connect with others and give back to the community, which propels them towards careers in public service, politics, and other helping fields.

 

Liberal arts majors can find graduates in almost all fields and professions, but these are some of the more typical career options. Liberal arts graduates may find their niche in sectors like marketing, sales, strategy, or relationship-based jobs like customer relations and account management, as opposed to STEM and business fields value their capacity to think critically, adapt fast, and solve issues.

 

Even if they don’t have a formal technical background, their abilities to read, investigate, and comprehend complicated material can help them catch up rapidly on technical subjects.

 

Liberal arts majors frequently have strong interpersonal skills and are excellent at bringing a “human touch” to any profession they choose. According to Parker, “Liberal arts (majors) approach problems in business and the wider world from a unique vantage point by tapping into the humanistic traits and dynamics that are occasionally neglected due to a narrow and solitary approach to problem-solving.”

 

Which Jobs Are Available to Those with a Liberal Arts Degree?

Thanks to the adaptable abilities a liberal arts education offers, you can anticipate joining a number of occupations in business, government, education, and healthcare. The common majors and job options you can consider are as follows.

 

Communications

You can acquire the necessary skills to work in fields like journalism, public relations, advertising, and more with a degree in communications. You can arrive at the office prepared to make presentations, produce publications and reports, and communicate through digital media with the help of courses in public speaking and graphic design.

The following are a few positions in the communications industry:

 

  • Manager of Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing: As a manager of advertising, promotions, or marketing, you can increase interest in numerous goods and services across industries. Professionals in these positions establish corporate or product-based websites, design promotional efforts, and organize paid advertising campaigns across radio, television, online, and other forms of media. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly wage for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers was $141,490 in 2020. (BLS).

 

  • Can you tell an engaging story with infographics, photographs, and graphic design? For the purpose of developing visual concepts for business websites, media outlets, and print publications, graphic designers rely on their imagination and aesthetic talents. According to BLS, their annual median pay was $53,380 in 2020.

 

  • Public relations professional: Do you want to influence how the public views a business, or a group? Public relations specialists create media releases and create social media programs to raise awareness and track interactions, relying on their strong speaking and writing abilities. According to BLS, their annual median pay was $62,810 in 2020.

 

English

History, social science, and literary theory classes taken by English majors, prepare them for careers as writers, historians, or museum curators. You can concentrate on conveying stories in nonfiction, news, fiction, screenwriting, or poetry genres with relevant career routes such as a bachelors in creative writing or journalism.

The course work is also intended to prepare you for careers in advertising, cinema, theater, and public relations, to mention a few.

Several positions in the area include:

 

  • Editors: Are you a skilled writer who pays close attention to detail? Editors assist both print and online media and work in a number of industries. According to the BLS, their typical annual compensation was $63,400 in 2020.

 

  • Technical Writers: Instruction manuals, web content, and other supporting materials for goods and services are produced by technical writers. According to the BLS, their median annual compensation was $74,650 in 2020.

 

History

The ability to analyze significant historical events and planning for the future requires an understanding of the past. With the aid of a history degree, you might be able to work as a curator, historical interpreter, or policy advisor by utilizing your great research and analytical abilities.

Despite the fact that history majors frequently work in politics, they are also competent for jobs in business, journalism, law, or education. You can also prepare for law school by majoring in history.

Some careers as a history major include:

 

  • Archivist:  As an archivist, you will process catalogs and preserve documents that are historically significant. 

 

  • Curator: A curator works at a museum on behalf of an institution. Curators may also exhibit their study while managing art collections and historical objects.

 

  • Museum Technician: Museum Technicians and conservators prepare collections and exhibits as well as restore artifacts and documents. According to the BLS, their median annual compensation was $52,140 in 2020.

 

  • Historian: According to the BLS, historians use historical materials and sources to research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past. Work is available in research organizations, historical societies, archives, and museums. According to BLS, the median salary for historians in 2020 was $63,100.

 

Psychology

A psychology degree focuses on human behavior and how to apply ideas to global, social and organizational concerns. Psychology is the study of the human mind. You can anticipate pursuing careers in social services, market research, and human resources. Several positions in the area include:

 

  • Human resources specialist: You might love working as a human resource specialist if you are interested in resolving employee conflicts, conducting interviews, hiring staff, and keeping them on board. You need excellent interpersonal and communication skills to succeed. According to BLS data from 2020, the median pay for human resource experts was $63,490.

  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analysts identify what items people desire, who will buy them, and what price they are willing to pay using strong analytical and critical thinking abilities. According to the BLS, their typical annual wage was $65,810 in 2020.

  • Counselor for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorders, and Mental Health: In this position, you can support people as they overcome their addictions to drugs, alcohol, or other substances, eating disorders, or other mental or behavioral difficulties. According to the BLS, their typical annual compensation was $47,660 in 2020. For these positions, additional training and licensure are typically necessary.

 

Sociology

A Sociology curriculum focuses on social behavior and how people behave in groups, and it also involves social science research, geography, history, and religion. You can learn about the societal historical, economic, and political difficulties in this sector, as well as how people can cooperate to solve issues. Jobs in social services, criminal justice, or public health are all open to sociology majors. Several jobs in the industry include:

 

  • Health educators and community health workers must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills in order to establish and assess health programs and produce materials on a range of health-related themes. Hospitals, the government, and nonprofit organizations employ health educators and community health workers. According to BLS, their annual median pay was $48,140 in 2020.

  • Manager of Social and Community Services: If you work in a “helping profession,” you must find and assess programs that cater to the needs of specific groups, such as veterans, the elderly, or children. You could concentrate on helping those who are struggling with poverty or drug abuse. According to BLS, their annual median pay was $69,600 in 2020.

 

What are the Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education?

 

A degree in the liberal arts will help you flourish in a fast-paced environment where people must come up with innovative answers on how to handle difficult problems in the future.

 

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that corporate executives are speaking out in support of these fundamental ideas. Three books about the preparation of students in the humanities were examined by Harvard Business Review. Humanities, according to the books’ authors, are about having the capacity to learn, ask the appropriate questions, pinpoint the root of an issue, and never lose sight of the needs of actual people.

 

According to a survey conducted by the Associate of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), nine out of ten employers place “somewhat” or “very important” value on the learning outcomes of modern liberal education, which includes the liberal arts.

 

According to Tom Patria, a career advisor at SNHU, “learners require a strong foundation in the liberal arts, which provides a framework for developing their verbal and writing skills, critical thinking, and ethics for career success.”

 

Soft skills are developed in general education classes and are crucial for being a strong leader, communicator, and critical thinker. But the ramifications of a liberal arts education go much beyond that.

 

Learning a second language teaches a different perspective on language. This results in the ability to toggle between different perspectives and technologies quickly and efficiently, understanding various situational constraints and requirements. Philosophy promotes reason and investigation, which results in a worker who can quickly appraise unforeseen circumstances.

 

Does Liberal Arts Include Science?

 

Traditional arts also include elementary science and arithmetic. When artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies cause changes in the workplace in the future, those subjects’ problem-solving, analysis, and observation skills will be crucial for a successful career.

 

The Future of Liberal Arts in the Workforce

 

Take into account that the employment market is rapidly evolving, and it’s possible that in the future, humanities-related abilities may be in high demand. More and more industries are being impacted by automation and AI. However, abilities like critical thinking, developing relationships, and storytelling resist automation and will always be in need in the workplace.

 

According to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Humanities Indicators report, the number of humanities degrees awarded in 2018 was 2% lower than the previous year and 14.1 % lower than the highest number of degrees awarded in a single year, which occurred in 2012. However, core skills gained via pursuing a degree in the liberal arts are more important than ever.

 

Because of unexpected intricacies in certain tasks or their psychological and emotional components, automation and AI have limitations. To manage AI and get the most out of it, competent humans are required.

 

Employees with strong interpersonal skills, quick thinking, and the capacity to collaborate with machine learning are in demand more than ever in today’s increasingly digitized, AI-supported environments.

 

Nearly all industries are using AI to an astonishing effect. The Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that record one’s driving and living habits, for instance, can be used by businesses in the healthcare and insurance sectors to collect data to calculate customer prices. Even fraud can be reduced by using a virtual claims adjuster to manage settlement and payment after an accident.

 

However, a distressed motorist who is calling their auto insurance provider from a ditch off the side of the road wants to speak to a live person. The customer support agent must be able to listen sympathetically, obtain pertinent data, and direct the driver clearly regarding the urgent next measures. The insurance company is now in need of workers with good communication and problem-solving abilities.

 

AI can gather and interpret more detailed and precise data in a doctor’s office or hospital than a person could ever hope to. However, this automated capability frees the nurses and office managers to concentrate on what they do best — educating patients and offering exceptional support and communication — rather than replacing them.

 

A world that is more and more dependent on technology and under pressure to compete for STEM jobs. Dr. Ruth Lahti, assistant vice president of liberal arts and social sciences at SNHU, says that studies in the liberal arts lay a strong emphasis on lifelong skills in a time when automation and technology will replace workers in growing numbers.

 

Soft skills are still important in the job, and companies will continue to be drawn to students who can show their creativity in activities like writing, communication, critical thinking, and cooperation. According to Lahti, there is an increasing demand for professionals in the “digital humanities” who can incorporate digital tools into their research, teaching, and publishing to increase the accessibility of scholarly work.

 

Getting Ready for the Workforce

 

Liberal arts majors may have a more difficult time finding the ideal employment than certain grads, despite the fact that they are well-suited for many diverse professions. Here are some tips for liberal arts majors looking to enter the workforce.

 

  • Develop Your Personal Brand: Students majoring in liberal arts are skilled at telling stories and explaining complicated concepts. They must use those skills to convey their own story when it comes time to enter the job market, which they can do by creating a personal brand.

  • Expand Your Skill Set: Since liberal arts majors are useful in a variety of professions, learning new subjects and acquiring abilities that are applicable to your chosen area will help you stand out from other applicants. For instance, if you’re a communication major hoping to work for a technology company, you might think about taking an IT elective to expand your vocabulary and comprehension of the field. 

  • Out of the Box Thinking: Be prepared to learn new skills and knowledge while exploring other sectors with an open mind. English majors are not only employed by publishing houses; other employment markets may benefit from your background and eagerness to study. Ryan Bernier, a benefits consultant at SNHU and former career advisor, said: “How you apply your education to your job progression is absolutely up to you. I was a liberal arts major myself.”

 

What Makes Liberal Arts Education Popular with Employers?

 

Forbes contributing editor George Anders states in his book “You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education” that employers want candidates with the following five qualities:

 

  1. Eagerness to tackle uncharted areas

  2. Ability to solve complex problems

  3. Well-honed analytic methods

  4. Keen awareness of group dynamics

  5. Ability to inspire and persuade others

 

“It just seemed as if there was this tremendous disconnect between public rhetoric that said ‘you’ve got to go the STEM route and there is no route but STEM,’ and then all of these interesting new job openings that were coming up for people with liberal arts degrees,” Anders said in a USA TODAY College story. “It was this hidden strength of the economy that nobody wanted to write about or talk about.”