Career Information for a Degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Liberal arts and humanities is generally offered as an undergraduate degree with interdisciplinary emphasis. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as job outlook and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A liberal arts and humanities education can prepare one for several career options. Some, such as teaching high school require further education and/or certification. Others, such as writing or customer service do not.

Essential Information

Degree programs specifically in liberal arts and humanities are typically found as undergraduate programs that can result in a Bachelor of Arts degree. They are broad-based programs with courses that explore the arts, world cultures and the human experience, such as philosophy, history, foreign languages, literature, and composition.

Career Writers High School Teachers Customer Service Representatives
Education Requirements Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree High School Diploma
Other Requirements N/A Licensure required in all 50 states for public school teachers N/A
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% 6% 10%
Median Salary (2015)* $60,250 $57,200 $31,720

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Graduates of an associate's program in Liberal Arts and Humanities are provided general liberal arts instruction. At the bachelor's level, schools may grant general degrees in humanities or liberal studies. Students at this level could also choose a major, such as anthropology, political science or psychology, incorporating other liberal arts and humanities studies through general education requirements. Master of Liberal Arts programs build on previous knowledge while allowing students to pursue personal topics of interest. At the doctoral level, students typically must choose a specific area of interest; yet, interdisciplinary programs also exist, so students could meld several liberal arts subjects into their educational approach.

Programs can prepare students to work in many sectors of society by providing them with a comprehensive education and developing their critical inquiry skills, problem solving abilities and cultural understanding. The talents of a liberal arts and humanities student can be applied to many different careers, including writing, teaching and customer service.

Writers

Writers develop written material for books, magazines, film scripts, online publications and advertisements. Liberal arts and humanities programs are known for cultivating excellent skills in writing; therefore, many graduates begin careers as writers. Additional qualities that may aid in finding a job in this competitive field are creativity, strong research skills and self-starting initiative.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $60,250 in 2015. The BLS projected a 2%, or slower than average, increase in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024. As of 2014, 67% of authors and writers were self-employed.

Teachers

Teachers prepare students for future schooling or life after graduation. Coupled with teaching training credentials, those with bachelor's degrees may find employment instructing primary and secondary school students. Elementary school teachers are often generalists who may teach subjects like reading and social studies. Teachers of more specific topics, such as English literature or American history, often work in middle schools or high schools, where instruction is more specialized. Teachers employed in public schools are required to have proper state certification and licensure. With a graduate degree and a liberal arts background, one might pursue employment at the college level.

In 2015, elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $54,890, and secondary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $60,440, as reported by the BLS. The number of jobs for elementary school teachers is anticipated to grow 6% (as fast as average) from 2014-2024, per the BLS. For secondary school teachers, job growth is expected to reach 6%, or slower than average.

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives handle customer problems and provide information about an businesses products and services. Though sometimes only a high school diploma is required for this occupation, undergraduate training in the humanities and liberal arts can give job seekers an edge. Graduates might obtain positions in call centers or retail stores. They could also land work-from-home telecommuting jobs. Customer service representatives require good communication skills to deal with unhappy customers, provide knowledge about a product or service, and relate problems or sales statistics to supervisors. Some customer service representatives may work evening or overnight hours at companies that cater to individuals in various time zones.

The BLS reported that, in 2015, these workers earned a median annual wage of $31,720, and that job growth is expected to reach 10% (as fast as average) from 2014-2024.

A liberal arts and humanities education provides a basic background in subjects such as philosophy, composition, and social sciences. This education provides a good foundation for teaching or writing, as well as working with customers in a business setting. Though teachers may require additional education and/or certification within a given state, authors and customer service representatives usually do not.

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