Liberal Arts Grads? In Demand? Are You Kidding Me?

Liberal Arts Grads? In Demand? Are You Kidding Me?

Intellectual passions have no calories. Or do they?

The value of an education in Liberal Arts is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind--- to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.--- Albert Einstein

Your family and your friends ask, “What in the world are you going to do for income? Do you want to end up living in a box in an alley?”

You love to talk, discuss, debate. You’re addicted to thinking. Not the accumulation of data, but thinking itself.

Your world is as eclectic as the music you love, no limits, infinite variety. Your I-pod is packed with the aural riches of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, the North Mississippi All-Stars, Nirvana, the Decembrists, anything by Jimi or Dylan with some Lou Reed thrown in. Then an Old-time concert, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, just so so damn good.

You think voraciously. Philosophy studies, especially metaphysics, feel so elegant, like chess inside your mind. You’re addicted.

Taking notes in a book.

For you, reading is a disease. Ancient history is a secret pleasure, especially Thucydides and Herodotus. You devour the fiction called American Naturalism you much prefer early Faulkner to any period of Hemingway. In fiction more recently, Cormac McCarthy is next to early Robert Stone. But the two Sinclairs, Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair, are your current mania.

You love theater. You prefer the plays of Euripides to Tennessee Williams. But Peter Shaffer is your all-time favorite playwright, much more than Mamet. You would walk a hundred miles for a revival of Royal Hunt of the Sun, or Amadeus. You know every line of several Coen Brothers movies.

You love art museums. The Abstract Expressionists, especially the huge color fields of Rothko and the action paintings Pollack, make you feel ascendant. You avoid the Impressionists like Renoir and Monet, their fluff so sickeningly sweet you need an insulin shot.

You write a little poetry. More like E.E. Cummings than Ted Hughes.

You are a Liberal Arts major.

And you’re no fool. You know you can’t eat ideas. The world is waiting to feed on you!

AaaaaAAAAAAAAA! What will you do for MONEY?


Thanks to (the wonderful committed brain-power and social enthusiasm of) your Liberal Arts degree, you can have an amazing future in the wonderful world of employment!

It’s true. Liberal arts majors with good grades are passionate about their studies. Employers look for passion and intelligence— a rare combination.

A man erasing a chalkboard.

Your ability to articulate freely and accurately— Liberal arts is well-known for this— is a highly valued skill, sought by many top employers.

Your Liberal Arts degree brings you many more options than you realize. For you, the career choices aren’t obvious, but they are wildly varied.

Bottom line? Liberal arts majors have excellent people skills. Skills that qualify them for a vast array of high intelligence jobs.

A recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey reveals this strong trend. Most hiring managers value a job candidate’s personal skills much higher than any particular college major.

Employers are hungry to hire people with skills in communication and critical thinking, exactly the top qualities of Liberal Arts graduates.

This is why Liberal Arts grads employment and salaries continually increase.

Opportunities are wide and many. Liberal Arts can open a whole range of careers. Most entry-level positions require people who can learn quickly and solve problems; the specifics are taught on the job.

The same NACE survey shows that liberal arts graduates worked in a variety of industries, including retail trade and social assistance. And they worked in a range of career fields, from management to sales to graphic arts.

Salary offers for Liberal Arts majors varied tremendously, depending upon the field selected.

Liberal arts majors have so many options beyond the obvious ones. This is an enormous advantage.

An English or History major might want to write, or teach… and yet the same Liberal Arts grad can go into business, sales, or graphic design, research assistant, or paralegal, working as a reporter or technical writer.

Or Anthropology, where the grad learned to conduct ethnographic interviews and studies, skills that can translate to marketing.

Employment of market research analysts is projected to grow by 20 percent between 2006 and 2016, and to provide more than 62,900 job openings for workers new to those occupations.

Communications and media jobs are expected to grow by 11 percent and provide 245,000 openings.

And jobs in urban and regional planning are expected to grow by 15 percent and provide 14,900 openings.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that the percent of graduates who had full-time jobs 1 year after graduation increased across the board for all liberal arts specialties between 1975 and 2001.

For instance, Psychology majors have seen a rise in post-graduation employment of almost 20 percent. Humanities and social science majors have experienced similar increases (16 percent and 17 percent, respectively).

According to the NCES Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Survey, a substantial portion of liberal arts graduates have reported that their jobs relate directly to their studies.
41 percent of humanities majors reported a direct link between their jobs and their majors, one year after graduation.

A man with an umbrella staring off into the morphing distance.

Deciding on a career can be difficult, especially if you have a degree that doesn’t point to a specific type of job.

Career counselors can help you find direction. Professionals in your college’s career center can offer advice on topics ranging from choosing a career to negotiating a salary. If you know which skills you want to use in a future job, you can consult a career counselor— to help you match those skills with potential jobs.

Nearly all career centers offer Internet resources that describe occupational choices by college major.

Exploit online research as a top tool of choice.

See? Liberal Arts is no dead-end. Your depth of knowledge can be a gateway to your dreams.

On the contrary, it can serve your future in a wild array of opportunities you never dreamed existed!

An african american student on campus looking off into the distance.

Bottom line, the degree and all that it confers. A general college degree is the major entry-level credential you need.

So, you’re ready to grad, to find your niche. Think away. It’s your passion, your number one asset, your intellectual strength.

Go ahead, Liberal Arts student, GRADUATE! Don’t fear the reaper, you can and you will find a rewarding job.

For the rest of your life, you will own THE CULTIVATION OF YOUR PERSONAL SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE!

The following articles offer general ad- vice that is useful to a broad range of jobseek- ers, including liberal arts graduates:

You can also visit a One-Stop Career Center, spon-sored by the U.S. Department of Labor. To find a local center, call toll free, 1 (877) 872–5627, or visit

To learn more about how skills and interest assessments are used in employment selection and career counseling, and to get test-taking tips and strategies, see “Tests and Other Assessments: Helping You Make Better Career Decisions,” published by O*Net and also available online at

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