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Jobs, Salaries, and Career Info for Humanities Majors

The Humanities is generally a field of study that includes art, music, history and philosophy. Continue reading for an overview of the degrees, as well as salary information and career options for graduates.

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If you like philosophy, the arts, religion, or historical literature, then becoming a humanities major may be a well-suited choice for you. A museum curator, humanities teacher (which can encompass art, theater, and music), and a librarian are among a number of careers you can choose from.

Essential Information

A humanities major prepares a student for a career in liberal arts. Depending on the career you choose, the education requirements for jobs vary. You only need a bachelor's degree to teach high school, but more advanced degrees are necessary for occupations in museums, universities and libraries.

Careers Museum Curator High School Teacher Postsecondary Teacher Librarian
Education Requirements Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D Bachelor's Degree, Teaching Certificate Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D Bachelor's, Master's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)* 7% 6% 13% 2%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $46,710 $57,200 $72,470 $56,880

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Humanities is a broad field encompassing numerous liberal arts disciplines, most of which are devoted to examining some form of human interaction, reasoning or behavior. Examples of humanities disciplines include linguistics, philosophy, religion, cultural studies, history, art and literature. Because the humanities are a multidisciplinary field, career options for humanities majors are extremely widespread. However, two of the most popular careers paths for humanities majors are museum curators and humanities teachers.

Museum Curator

Museum curators are responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of paintings, sculptures, historical artifacts, and other works of art displayed at museums. They contact collectors, attend auctions or estate sales, and visit historical landmarks in order to obtain items that fit the themes of their museums. Curators ensure that all displays are kept clean and secure, though many curators delegate these responsibilities to security guards or other lower-level staff members.

Many curators are in charge of administrative and marketing duties, such as securing funding, planning special events or short-term themed exhibits, developing educational programs, and hiring museum personnel. In very large museums, some of these duties fall on museum directors, archivists or technicians.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that while the majority of curators work in publicly or privately funded museums, some are employed by government agencies, postsecondary institutions, parks and gardens, zoos or designated historical sites. (www.bls.gov).

To work as a curator, you need a bachelor's degree and a master's in art, history, museum studies, or archaeology. A doctoral degree is required for positions in natural history or science museums.

The BLS foresees an average-level employment market for museum curators between 2014 and 2024, projecting a 7% job growth during that time. As of May 2015, the BLS reported that curators earned an average annual median salary of $46,710 (www.bls.gov).

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  • General Studies
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Humanities Teacher

Many college students major in humanities with the intention of eventually teaching a liberal arts-related subject that falls under the general umbrella of humanities, such as art, English, philosophy, theatre, theology, history or literature. According to the BLS, the majority of such positions are found at postsecondary institutions (www.bls.gov).

Some theological teaching positions are available through religious elementary schools or high schools. Humanities majors interested in teaching can also become librarians or teachers of related skills, such as research or computer science.

Many humanities teaching positions carry educational requirements beyond a bachelor's degree in humanities. A master's degree or higher is required for postsecondary teaching positions, and for many public school teaching positions. Humanities degree holders can either go on to study humanities at the graduate level or pursue an education-related major. You need a master's to teach at most community colleges, and a doctoral degree to become a professor at a four-year school.

Job duties differ greatly for humanities teachers depending on the subject taught. Overall, classroom teachers provide students with a general education in their subject of expertise. This may include selecting textbooks, planning a semester-long or yearlong curriculum, giving lectures, assigning readings, research projects or other homework, and testing students' knowledge of concepts discussed in class.

In May 2015, the BLS recorded an annual median salary of $57,200 for high school teachers and $72,470 for postsecondary teachers. From 2014 to 2024, the BLS projects the job growth will increase 6% for high school teachers and 13% for postsecondary positions. The BLS listed the average yearly median wages for postsecondary humanities instructors.

  • Music, drama and art teachers: $65,340
  • Ethnic, area and cultural studies teachers: $72,300
  • Philosophy and religion teachers: $66,380

Librarian

Librarians select and catalogue books, periodicals, media and other library materials, as well as maintain a database of library items. They provide recommendations or assistance to students in checking out books, using library technology or locating research materials. Librarians working for libraries in small towns or at small colleges may also be responsible for inventory, checkout, and shelving; at larger libraries, they may delegate these tasks to staff or students. Librarians must have a bachelor's degree and go on to receive a master's in library science.

According to the BLS, librarians employed by postsecondary institutions earned a median salary of $60,300 per year as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). BLS projections indicate a likely job growth of 2% for librarians between 2014 and 2024.

Whether you fancy teaching, books, or museums, a pool of careers is available to the humanities major, and the job growth over the next decade for many of these careers is positive. Depending on which path you choose, a separate degree may be needed, particularly a master's for postsecondary teachers, librarians, and curators.

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