Only about half of students attending four-year colleges believe their major will lead to a good job, according to one survey by Strada and Gallup. And roughly one third believe they will graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the workplace.
These sentiments are shared by many liberal arts students, who often hear the question: "What are you going to do with a degree in that?"
But humanities grads aren't doomed to a life of underemployment, writes Kerri Renzulli for CNBC.
CNBC analyzed occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find high-paying jobs that require a bachelor's degree and utilize skills associated with a liberal arts background: effective communication, strong writing, critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
The jobs offer median yearly salaries of at least $55,000—about $12,500 more than a typical salary for a liberal arts grad, writes Renzulli.
Here are the 10 high-paying liberal arts jobs and their median annual wage, according to CNBC:
1. Fundraiser, $55,640
2. Secondary school teacher, $57,720
3. Editor, $58,770
4. Public relations specialist, $59,300
5. Human resources specialist, $60,350
6. Training and development specialist, $60,360
7. Writer and author, $61,820
8. Education administrator, $81,630
9. Technical writer, $70,930
10. Broadcast news analyst, $62,910
Related: 5 strategies to get students to the career office within their first year
CNBC's findings highlight two facts about career outcomes your liberal arts students might not realize.
For one, humanities students who pick up technical skills can double the number of jobs they're qualified for and raise their average salary potential by $6,000, according to research from Burning Glass.
For example, liberal arts majors with a technical background in engineering or computer science can land the second-highest-paying job on CNBC's list: technical writer. Technical writers, who work with developers to craft instruction manuals and how-to guides, earn more than writers in other fields, adds Renzulli.
Second, humanities majors do not equal humanities jobs. CNBC's list features several jobs (fundraiser, human resources specialist, training specialist) that don't directly relate to a liberal arts degree. Renzulli points to research from The Hamilton Project that found that liberal arts majors hold a more diverse range of jobs that most other majors' grads.
In fact, more than a third of humanities majors report no relationship between their job and their degree. Instead, almost a third of humanities grads hold sales, services, or administrative support positions—and 14% are managers (Renzulli, CNBC, 3/3).
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