Since the economic downturn of 2008, many students are worried about their job prospects. They’re not alone, of course, as many Americans are struggling with unemployment in these uncertain times. In such a climate, many are asking whether it is it still wise to obtain a liberal arts degree.
Unemployment can be problematic for recent graduates who have racked up a huge amount of debt in the form of student loans; the national average student loan debt is $25,000. At the moment, liberal arts students face a 9.4 percent unemployment rate. Law and public policy students fair only a little better, with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate. Architecture students should be more worried, as these students face a 13.9 percent unemployment rate.
Those who obtain liberal arts degrees study a diverse range of subjects – anything from English literature to communications to history to sociology. As a result, liberal arts students take jobs in a various range of fields – only 20 percent of them are concentrated in any single industry. By way of comparison, 75 percent of education members spend their careers in the education industry.
There still are many common professions for liberal arts grads, depending on their particular field of study. Communications majors, for example, take positions as newspaper reports and advertising executives. English majors most often become writers and editors. History students go on to become archivists and historians. Foreign language majors become gainfully employed as foreign service officers and interpreters. Sociologist grads go into the market research field or find work as jury consultants. Those who study anthropology often become archaeologists or museum curators.
If anything, a liberal arts degree shows that a student has obtained a well-rounded education. It appears to be a complete myth that you can’t start a career with such a degree. In the modern world, English majors can obtain jobs at market research firms and history majors can establish a career at investment banking firms.
Liberal arts students would be wise, however, to supplement their studies with an internship relating to the field they wish to enter. More than that, they should supplement their studies with classes that go beyond the regular university requirements. When they enter the job market, it’s important that they know their own strengths and can showcase these skills with a list of achievements.