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Career Info for a Liberal Arts Degree

Degree programs in the liberal arts, humanities and general studies cover a wide range of topics, including literature, math, science and philosophy. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A liberal arts degree is the same as a degree in general studies. This is an option for those with a wide range of interests, or who do not know which subject area they wish to major in. A liberal arts degree can prepare individuals for many careers, including teaching, sales and graphic design.

Essential Information

Degree programs in the liberal arts, humanities and general studies cover a variety of topics and are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Many are available partially or totally online. Sometimes, the terms 'general studies' and 'liberal arts' are used interchangeably or combined in a single program title, referred to as 'liberal studies'. The curriculum of these programs covers multiple subjects, including the sciences, literature, arts, math, public speaking, history, philosophy and public speaking. Some may allow students to concentrate their studies on areas such as business, teaching or graphic design.

Career Graphic Designer Sales Manager High School Teacher
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree in graphic design Bachelor's degree in any relevant field Bachelor's degree in preferred subject area with teacher education training
Licensing N/A N/A Required for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% 5% 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 $113,860 $57,200 (secondary school teachers, except special education and career/technical education)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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  • General Studies
  • Humanities
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Career Options

Because of the variety of subjects covered in a humanities, liberal arts or general studies degree program, graduates are eligible for many different careers. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may also be prepared for graduate or professional school training in medicine, law or another subject, such as business, public policy or the sciences. Here is a look at three career options for liberal arts graduates.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers convey ideas and concepts by creating visual images, either with computer software or by hand. They can work on many types of projects, including print advertisements, smartphone applications and corporate reports. A bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required, and graduates should have a good portfolio of design work to show potential employers.

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for graphic designers at $46,900. The largest employer was specialized design services, according to the BLS, with others working in many other industries, including advertising and newspapers. Competition for jobs may be tough. The BLS anticipated just 1% growth in this field from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average for all occupations. The most promising field for graphic designers will be in computer systems design, according to the BLS.

Sales Manager

Sales managers can work in many fields, directing a team of sales people. Their duties include training their team, setting sales goals and analyzing sales data. A bachelor's degree is sufficient preparation for a career in sales; the major is not important, but courses in management, economics and other related topics are helpful. It's important to note this is not an entry-level job - extensive sales experience is usually required for management positions.

The BLS predicted that jobs for sales managers would increase by 5% from 2014 to 2024, with the most growth coming in the business-to-business market. The median salary for sales managers in all industries was $113,860 in May 2015, according to the BLS, with those in the securities and commodity exchange business making the most at an average of $205,800 a year.

High School Teacher

High school teachers must earn a bachelor's degree, usually in the subject they intend to teach, such as history, mathematics or English. They also need to have completed teacher preparation training that includes supervised student teaching in a real school. Teachers must be licensed, which requires passing examinations in teaching skills and in the subject area they wish to teach. Some states require high school teachers to earn a master's degree after being hired.

Secondary school teachers, except special education and career/technical education, made a median salary of $57,200 in May 2015, the BLS noted. Jobs for high school teachers were expected to increase by 6% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS, though there should be better job prospects with school districts in rural and urban areas.

Careers in graphic design, sales, and education are among those available to those with a liberal arts degree. Graphic designers and sales managers can enter their fields with a bachelor's degree, while teachers need to have a teaching license as well as their degree. Job prospects amongst graphic artists, sales managers and teachers are expected to be strongest for teachers, with a projected rate of 6% job growth from 2014 to 2024, which is as fast as average compared to all professions.

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