What Are Popular Careers in Humanities?

At universities and colleges, schools of humanities aim to provide a multidisciplinary approach to understanding people and the social institutions we create; they do this through the study of art, social structures, and other forms of cultural expression. Because the coursework involves intensive reading, writing, and critical thinking practice, you'll have many career options open to you if you decide to study humanities at the undergraduate or graduate level. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Subject Matter

The area of humanities encompasses a range of fields and topics, from ancient Greek mythology to modern architecture to Native American culture. Curricula vary widely from one school to another; expect to find courses as diverse as Asian art history, postmodernism, gender studies, African culture, film theory, and Western civilization. You'll often find courses encompassing more than one discipline.

Career Options

Although a degree in humanities won't prepare you for a specific job in the way that, say, an engineering program would, you'll acquire many marketable skills. Among them are critical thinking, problem solving, communication, writing, public speaking, and research, to name just a few.

Practically every field, from art to management to medicine to activism, contains people whose background is in the humanities. Your task is to choose an area in which you'd like to work and market yourself. In fact, many employers prefer applicants with the type of broad education that humanities study provides. You won't be limited to working in any one sector of the economy; nonprofits, businesses, schools, newspapers, and the Federal Government are all potential employers.

Writer or Editor

With humanities training, you could become a journalist, speech writer, television writer, grant writer, copy editor, columnist, author, playwright, or more. Most writing jobs involve at least some kind of research - whether you're a journalist researching a story or a grant writer researching sources of funding. Many people start out in entry-level positions, such as copy editor, and gradually move towards areas to which they find themselves drawn.


A background in humanities is very useful to an artist for the expanded worldview it provides. You could be a visual artist, songwriter, film director, actor - the list goes on. The majority of artists are self-employed.

Sales or Customer Service

A humanities degree can benefit anyone working with the public. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that customer service workers numbered approximately 2.4 million in 2012, with about one in five individuals working part-time.

Real Estate Broker

Although the minimum requirement to work for a real estate company is a high school diploma, many employers require a bachelor's degree. Some additional classroom instruction in real estate is required for licensure.

Human Resources Specialist or Manager

There are many different jobs in human resources with different levels of required education. Basically, however, you would be hired to help a company manage issues relating to its employees, such as hiring, benefits, working conditions, productivity, and morale. The BLS states that some companies count liberal arts degrees among the preferred degrees for these positions and that an interdisciplinary background is helpful for this field.

Other Options Requiring Specific Education

Depending upon the career you choose, you may have to obtain further training. The following is just a sample of the many careers for which a humanities background can be an excellent beginning:

  • Librarian
  • College Professor
  • Interpreter
  • Attorney
  • Counselor/Therapist
  • School Teacher
  • Museum Curator
  • School Administrator
  • Clergyperson
  • Anthropologist

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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