The 10 highest-paid jobs for liberal arts majors—and how to get them

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The 10 highest-paid jobs for liberal arts majors—and how to get them

It’s not news that liberal arts and STEM graduates typically begin their careers at different ends of the salary spectrum.

But liberal arts students can land high-paying careers, too—if they pair their humanities education with in-demand technical skills, finds a report from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Burning Glass Technologies.

After analyzing millions of job postings and resumes on Burning Glass, researchers found 10 careers that offer liberal arts students employment and advancement opportunities. Researchers then identified the skills students need to break into each industry, writes Laura Ascione for eCampus News.

We compiled each career’s in-demand skill set and expected five-year salary in the table below.  

Five year salary chart

Among more than 3.8 million entry-level jobs for college graduates, liberal arts students could qualify for about 1.4 million of those positions—if they develop additional skills, the researchers found.

Read more: 2 ways to integrate professional development into the liberal arts

Liberal arts graduates typically earn less than STEM students, but that isn’t preordained, says Matthew Sigelman, one of the study’s lead authors. While humanities grads already have in-demand abilities, like critical thinking and communication, developing complementary technical skills can boost their earning potential, adds Sigelman, the chief executive of Burning Glass. 

Researchers offer a few takeaways for colleges preparing liberal arts students for the job market:

  • Encourage students to develop communication and creativity skills to stay competitive in an automated workplace; and
  • Incorporate digital competencies into the curriculum to prepare students for the growing number of positions that require digital literacy.

Many liberal arts majors may already have a digital skill or two in their arsenal, but just don’t know it—or haven’t adequately articulated it on their resume, Jacob Passy wrote for MarketWatch in 2017.

For example, if an English student writes for the college newspaper and that newspaper has a website, chances are that student picked up digital publishing skills in the process, he writes. Many colleges have noticed the importance of communicating these skills and have established initiatives to help students market their digital skillsets.

But for students in any discipline, pairing soft skills with technical expertise will open up the most promising opportunities for short- and long-term employment, writes Carla Hickman, a managing director at EAB (Ascione, eCampus News, 3/26; AEI report, accessed 3/26).

Are T-shaped professionals the answer to the skills gap?

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