Liberal Arts Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a liberal arts degree. Read on to learn more about career options along with job duties and potential salary information. Schools offering Liberal Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can You Do with a Liberal Arts Major?

A liberal arts degree can prepare you to work in a variety of fields, such as education, journalism, and law enforcement. Teachers instruct their students in different subjects to enrich their lives through learning, planning lessons and assessing their progress through class activities and testing. Reporters investigate what's happening in the world, reporting on things of importance to keep the public informed of events that could shape their lives. Police officers enforce the laws and respond to emergencies when called, investigating crimes and writing reports of what goes on during work hours.

Read the information provided in the table below to learn about some of these options.

TeacherReporterPolice Officer
Licensure/Certification State license or certification required N/A Driver's license required
Key Responsibilities Plan lessons, assess, and teach students, develop curricula Research news stories, interview people, interpret facts Enforce laws, provide emergency response, write reports
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all teachers)* -8% (for all reporters and correspondents)* 4% (for all police and detectives)*
Median Salary (2015) $54,890 (for all elementary teachers)*
$55,860 (for all middle school teachers)*
$57,200 (for all high school teachers)*
$36,360 (for all reporters and correspondents)* $60,270 (for all police and detectives)*

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

Liberal Arts Major

The term 'liberal arts major' can refer to an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, which combines several disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences. Schools that offer degrees in liberal arts award them as Bachelor of Arts degrees. Some schools use the nomenclature 'liberal studies' for this option.

To complete a liberal arts or liberal studies major, students often complete courses in a broad array of fields, from foreign language to philosophy. In many cases, you can choose elective courses from virtually any field, and you'll receive your bachelor's degree once you meet the credit hour requirement.

Liberal arts can also refer to a classification of several subjects. Many universities have a college of liberal arts, through which you can major in an individual subject considered to be under the umbrella of liberal arts. Subjects that are frequently included in this category include English, philosophy, music, journalism, and history, though many others are possible. Psychology, for example, is one liberal arts field in which a Bachelor of Science degree is commonly awarded.

Career Options

A wide range of careers can be pursued with a liberal arts degree. If you've chosen a school that offers a degree in liberal arts, you'll have the flexibility to choose exactly what you want to study, according to the College Board (www.collegeboard.com). There is no set career path for liberal arts majors, leaving opportunities open in business, education, mass communications, and government.

People with degrees in liberal arts or liberal studies can find work in career areas that don't specify a particular academic path. For example, many liberal arts majors go on to pursue teacher certification and work in elementary or secondary education. Others work as administrative assistants, directors of non-profit organizations, journalists, law enforcement officials, copy editors, and more. Since undergraduate liberal arts education is largely dictated by your individual interests, you can often find work related to the elective courses you selected.

Salary

Salaries are dependent on the specific field you choose. PayScale.com lists salary info for those with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree and breaks it down by career. The website's 2017 data notes that the highest hourly median annual salaries of these graduates was $19.79 for executive assistants, while sales associates made the least, $10.76. Administrative assistants represented something of a middle ground at $14.98.

According to the BLS, in 2015 the median annual salary for teachers of most subjects at the elementary school level was $54,890, with slightly higher pay at the middle school, $55,860. High school teachers had a median annual salary of $57,200. For reporters/correspondents and police officers/detectives, the figures were $36,360 and $60,270, respectively. Job growth for elementary, middle, and high school teachers was expected to be an as-fast-as-average 6%. Slower-than-average job growth is projected for police officers at 4%. Reporters are expected to experience an 8% decline (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Similar Careers?

Detectives work for police stations, investigating crime scenes and collecting evidence to catch and convict criminals. News correspondents take the facts collected by reporters and interpret them in an easy-to-understand manner before informing the public through radio or television. Broadcast news analysts are knowledgeable figures called to analyze certain situations in the news and provide their educated viewpoints on the matter, helping the public form better opinions.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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