What Can You Do With a Liberal Arts Degree?

The liberal arts include subjects in the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics, as opposed to pre-professional and technical subjects. Earning a liberal arts degree can open the door to a wide variety of career opportunities, traditionally in fields such as journalism, advertising, and teaching. But a liberal arts degree can also lead to careers in some unexpected industries, such as business, financing, and technology. For example, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz earned his bachelor’s degree in communications; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has a Bachelor of Arts degree in medieval history and philosophy; and YouTube SEO Susan Wojcicki majored in history and literature.

A liberal arts education provides more than just subject education. It encourages students to sharpen skills such as critical thinking, communication, and creativity. In fact, liberal arts majors are in demand for openings in roles such as business development manager, intelligence analyst, and client service specialist, according to Forbes.

This article will explore the plethora of careers potentially available to graduates with a liberal arts degree and the skills liberal arts majors need to hone in order to help them succeed professionally.

Busy office space

Consider the Value of a Liberal Arts Degree

Liberal arts students can acquire a variety of skills during their studies and may find satisfying and lucrative work in a wide range of industries, as highlighted below.

Skills Acquired in a Liberal Arts Program

  • Critical thinking and collaboration. Many of America’s most prestigious universities prepare students for postgraduate life by emphasizing a liberal arts program that teaches critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.
  • Emotional and social intelligence. Many experts predict that as traditional jobs become automated, the skills needed in the “higher echelons” of the workforce will be networking, public relations, and other skills that require the emotional and social intelligence only humans possess.

Liberal Arts Majors’ Value in the Workplace

  • Why the Tech Industry Values Liberal Arts Majors. This Harvard Business Review article explains why liberal arts majors are the future of the tech industry.
  • Most Desired Employers for Liberal Arts Majors. Business Insider surveyed nearly 23,000 students with a liberal arts background, asking them to choose the five employers they’d most like to work for and compiling a list of the top 50 choices. The top spot goes to the Walt Disney Corporation, followed by the United Nations, Google, the FBI, and National Geographic.

Explore Career Opportunities With a Liberal Arts Degree

What can you do with a liberal arts degree? More than many people realize. There are the “typical” careers for liberal arts majors; for example, recent survey results analyzed by a professor from Northeastern University indicated that most English majors go on to become teachers, while a fair number become lawyers, judges, or college professors.

What often goes unnoticed, though, is that many graduates with English and other liberal arts degrees work as financial analysts, marketing specialists, and executives. “Multidisciplinary thinking and collaboration are so important,” Maria Elavumkal, head of talent in marketing and communications at IBM, told Fortune magazine. “You need people with a broad set of skills and experiences, not just tech skills, to solve complex problems.”

According to Forbes Magazine, companies such as Department of Homeland Security contractor Leidos, American Express, and the Hartford Financial Services Group are recruiting liberal arts majors for positions such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) analyst, client service specialist, and project manager.

Potential Careers by Major

The critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills liberal arts students gain while working toward their degrees can help open up myriad career opportunities. The BLS breaks down information about the most common career fields for many popular majors.

  • For example, history majors work mostly as teachers, managers, and paralegals.
  • Communications majors end up as marketing and sales managers, customer service representatives, and human resources specialists, among other careers.

Top Employers

  • Tech firms Apple, Airbnb, and Puppet Labs were all founded by liberal arts majors, and these and other tech firms are recruiting liberal arts majors to join their teams.
  • Wondering what you can do with a liberal arts degree? Top employers of fine arts majors include Apple, Target, and Starbucks, while many English majors work for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft, according to LinkedIn.

While tech seems to have taken over the job market, and nearly 25 percent of all undergraduates get a degree in either business or engineering, there are plenty of opportunities within the tech and business industries for liberal arts majors. A liberal arts degree typically teaches students research, communication, and analytical thinking skills, opening the door for a wide array of postgraduate career opportunities in many industries.

Earn Your Liberal Arts Degree at Maryville University

If you’re interested in the valuable skills gained through liberal arts programs and the myriad opportunities it can lead to, learn more about Maryville University’s online liberal arts degrees.

Sources

Time Magazine

Forbes Magazine

Vox.com

CNBC

Fortune

NACE

BLS Liberal Arts Career Outlook