Jobs for Humanities Majors?

, Malcolm A. Kline, 3 Comments

As commencement approaches, this year’s graduating seniors can look forward to pep talks about how employable humanities majors are.

“Upon graduating from college, those who majored in the humanities and social science made, on average, $26,271 in 2010 and 2011, slightly more than those in science and mathematics but less than those in engineering and in professional and pre-professional fields,” Vartan Gregorian writes in the Carnegie Reporter. “However, by their peak earning age of 56 to 60, these individuals earned $66,185, putting them about $2,000 ahead of professional and pre-professional majors in the same age bracket.

Further, employers want to hire men and women who have the ability to think and act based on deep, wide-ranging knowledge. For example, the report [from the Association of American Colleges and Universities] finds that 93 percent of employers agree that candidates’ demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major, and 55 percent said that what they wanted from potential employees was both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of knowledge and skills. Even more evidence of hiring managers’ interest in richly educated individuals is the finding that four out of five employers agree that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.”

The Carnegie Reporter is published by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Gregorian is president of the corporation.

  • Rebecca

    Vartan Gregorian….do a search on that one. You know there is more to a career than just money. If you are a social worker, you can force your Marxist ideas on the general public without them even knowing it.

  • Bob Jensen

    Top undergraduate humanities majors typically go into professions later on such as those that go to law schools and become attorneys and those that obtain MBA degrees from prestigious universities and become business executives. Is it surprising that graduates of prestigious law schools and MBA programs become highly paid professionals?

    In such instances undergraduate and graduate degrees are confounded making it impossible to attribute cause to one of the two diplomas. In other words, correlation is not causation.

    Humanities majors that get into prestigious law schools, MBA programs are cream of the crop humanities majors. Among professional majors such as undergraduate business majors the entire spectrum may from high to low grade averages may be in the business professions. My point is that the comparisons may be between top humanities majors with low-to-high business majors.

    The $66,185 average at age 55-60 is below the starting salaries of most engineers and close to the starting salaries of new hires in public accounting firms. It is not as impressive to claim success if humanities majors after 30 years on the job are doing not much better than the starting employees in some of the higher paying professions such as engineering, accounting, and computer science graduates.

    My point is not to put down the total value of being a humanities major. However, I think there are some quirks in the data that need to be investigated by professionals before putting too much faith in questionable conclusions.

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