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Liberal Arts Majors, Rejoice: Salary Study Says You’ll Find a Job That Pays


Arts and humanities majors might never make as much as engineering and math students, but they’re far from poverty-stricken, says a recent study. In fact, the report shows that liberal arts grads eventually make up the salary gap between their trajectory and that of other professionals.


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“That’s a myth out there — that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life,” says Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report, to NBC News. Humphreys is a policy analyst at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “This (study) suggests otherwise.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The study, entitled How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment, examined census data from 2010 and 2011. Among its findings: liberal arts majors were only 0.04 percent more likely to be unemployed than other professional or preprofessional degree holders, and actually out-earned those graduates at the peak of their earnings (usually between the ages of 56 and 60) by $2,000 a year on average. At their peak, workers who studied liberal arts earn $40,000 a year more than when they first graduated from school.

Some think the type of degree is less important than getting a college degree.

“It’s not an either-or thing,” says Dr. Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor for the Orange County Business Council, to the Orange County Register. “If the way you get to being a college graduate is with a liberal-arts degree, then that’s a very good thing.”

In addition, the report found that liberal arts and science majors were more likely to go into jobs in social services and education, which, while not as remunerative as STEM jobs, “are necessary to the health of our communities and to the quality of our educational systems.”

Tell Us What You Think

Are you a successful liberal arts major? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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