What A Liberal Arts Degree Can Do For You

The liberal arts are defined differently by different people. Historically, the liberal arts were believed to be skills and subject areas that people had to know in order to partake in a civilized society, and included mathematics, language, astronomy, music, and a study of history. These days, liberal arts have a broader definition, but the goal remains to educate young people such that they will be upstanding, responsible citizens.


Classes Involved

Like any field of study, degrees in liberal arts can be earned at any level, from an associate’s degree to a graduate degree or even a doctorate. Typically, a liberal arts degree will involve classes in the areas of:

  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Language
  • Math
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences such as Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Humanities
  • Music
  • Religion


Job Opportunities

Since the purpose of pursuing a degree in liberal arts is to become a more well-rounded individual who is capable of taking on any challenge with calm focus, people who’ve earned a liberal arts degree tend to excel in a wide variety of careers, even if those careers don’t relate directly to their studies. Per the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are a variety of jobs available for liberal arts degree holders. These jobs include:

  • Economic analysts
  • Historians and curators
  • Politicians
  • Government workers
  • Sociologists
  • Writers and essayists
  • Teachers and professors
  • Psychologists
  • Theologians
  • Artists
  • Anthropologists
  • Foreign language instructors

Some of these jobs can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, while others–such as psychologists–may require a doctorate degree. A liberal arts degree transcends a variety of industries, providing degree holders with the opportunity to work in several different areas, with all kinds of people, and in different areas of the world.


The Salary and Job Growth

Due to the wide range of careers that liberal arts majors pursue, the salaries that they earn vary greatly. However, the National Association of College Employers reports that the average salary for those graduating with a liberal arts degree is on the rise. The 2012 salaries broke down as follows:


Average Annual Salary (2012)

Science and General Studies






Visual and Performing Arts



Here’s how salary information breaks down by career:


Average Annual Salary (2012)

Creative Writer




Political Science Teacher (post-secondary)


English/Literature Teacher (post-secondary)






Stage or Film Director


Clinical Psychologist




The job growth fluctuates as much as the salaries. For example, the demand for historians is expected to increase by as much as 18 percent by the year 2020; this increase is slightly higher than the average for all occupations. Nearly all jobs in the humanities and liberal arts are expected to grow over the next decade.

Other Benefits of a Liberal Arts Degree

While salary and job opportunities are two important advantages of a liberal arts degree, they are not the only advantages.

The other perks the liberal arts can offer include:

Jobs Applicable to the Major

It has long been believed that people don’t really use their college majors; while the fact they have a degree may help people to obtain a job, the subject of that degree is often thought to be irrelevant. In fact, data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated that only 27% of college graduates have jobs closely related to their college major. This number may be even lower for those who do not work in large cities. People who hold degrees in liberal arts, by contrast, are more likely to find jobs in fields closely tied to their major. This lends itself to a high rate of job satisfaction. People who are able to actually use their degree rather than feeling their hard work and hours of schooling have gone unrewarded end up happier in their careers.

Interesting and Enjoyable Jobs

Another benefit of a liberal arts degree is that they are generally tied to jobs that are interesting and enjoyable. Often, people major in liberal arts because a field or subject inspires or enlivens them. People who pursue degrees because they think they’ll be more lucrative, and not because they’re passionate about the subject, may find that their interest in their career wanes with time. .

Excellent Job Skills and Life Skills

Employers, particularly in a still-recovering economy and a competitive job market, usually look for employees who can communicate well, who possess a strong work ethic, who are willing to take the initiative and work independently, who think both creatively and analytically, and who have the ability to solve problems. These kinds of skills, problem-solving, clear communication, independenc
e, and creative analytic thought, are essential to the study of the liberal arts. These skills are essential not just in the workplace but in everyday life, and a liberal arts degree is an excellent way to acquire and improve upon that skill set.