If you were an Arts major, you probably got sick of hearing the question, “So, what are you planning on doing after you graduate?”
I mean, can I live?
Many stories have come out in recent years that stick it to all the skeptical aunts and uncles at family dinners who question your parents’ sanity in letting you pursue a degree in Political Science or English or Illustration or Theatre.
Because despite the stereotype that an arts degree will give you full qualifications to flip burgers, many companies and organizations recognize the value in hiring people who think creatively.
Tech companies, medical schools, marketing agencies and more have shifted their recruitment focuses to incorporate people with creative and communication-oriented degrees. With so much attention being given to innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital communication, conditions might in fact be better than ever for arts majors looking for employment.
Of course, there is one important caveat: an arts degree (and any degree, really) is what you make of it. The unique challenge of majoring in art is that you need to figure out how to sell your degree to a prospective employer. Identify what your transferable skills are and turn them into actionable examples in your applications.
For example, if your degree is in English, you can emphasize your excellent communication skills, your ability to translate complex information into fluent text, your creative and analytical approach to problem solving, and your ability to research and write about a diverse range of topics.
Take it from me, this actually works--I majored in English and worked jobs ranging from corporate communications to analytics to teaching before landing my current job in marketing and content creation. Landing interesting and well-paying jobs with an arts degree is possible, but you have to convince interviewers that you’re capable of learning the finer points of the position on the job.
Finding a job you love begins with knowing what your options are. Here are 8 exciting jobs you can land with your “useless” arts degree.
- Average salary: $40,593
- Degree type: Graphic Design, Digital Media, Computer Animation, Illustration.
Whether it’s designing the look of a user interface for a new app or creating a promotional infographic to share on their social media, businesses rely on graphic designers to dress up their content.
With so businesses out there ranging from startup to multinational, there is a persistent demand for graphic designers. Even if your degree isn’t strictly in graphic design, if you take the initiative to learn how to use design programs build a portfolio through freelance assignments, there is nothing stopping you from securing a job at good company.
- Average salary: $40,668
- Degree type: English, Communications, Journalism, Philosophy, Political Science, Women’s Studies, and other writing-heavy courses.
All businesses require written content. Because so much marketing is done digitally now, the demand for content writers is at an all-time high. As long as you are able to write well and are able to learn quickly about industries you might not be familiar with, you can land a content writing job. Your chances will be greatly improved, however, if you have a portfolio to show employers. It also helps if you take personal interest in the industry you are applying for--employers like to know that you are passionate about your writing.
- Average salary: $55,000
- Degree type: Fine Arts, Public Administration.
Working on the business end of fine arts, arts administrators take on the responsibilities of promoting shows, overseeing fundraising events, supporting organizational staff and more. And the demand for positions like this is surprisingly on the rise: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for jobs like this will rise by 3 percent between 2012 and 2022. That being said, many places look for candidates who also have a Master’s in arts, as well as some background in finance, marketing and personal management.
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Social and Community Service Manager
- Average salary: $48, 985
- Degree type: Public administration, Psychology, Sociology.
Social and Community Service Managers oversee social services departments for government and medical organizations. They are responsible for overseeing budgets, directing employees, improving the standard of living for clients, community outreach and other social tasks. Because it is a manager position, you will need to get experience working for nonprofit and government organizations. This kind of position is great for someone who wants to incite positive change in their community.
- Average salary: $51,307
- Degree type: Economics, English, Political Science, Fine Arts, and more.
Insurance Underwriters review applications for insurance coverage. They are responsible for identifying risks associated with coverage, and denying or modifying policies to accommodate their needs. The ability to read and analyze dense text will come in handy in a position like this. Courses in mathematics and accounting can be beneficial in obtaining an underwriter position, but it is not always necessary.
Postsecondary Education Administrator
- Average Salary: $52,000
- Degree type: Marketing, Human Relations, English, Social Sciences.
So you like school but you don’t think you’re suited to being a teacher. No problem--there’s a whole whack of administrative positions needed at schools, in every department. Their tasks include updating budget reports, schedules, student applications and degree statuses, overseeing special events, providing aid to faculty and students, and more. Many positions will require you to also have a Master’s degree.
- Average salary: $77,251
- Degree type: Philosophy, Anthropology, Political Science, English, Economics, Social Science, Psychology, Theatre, and a whole whack of other arts degrees.
Virtually any arts degree can be a prerequisite to a law degree. In fact, some experts have said that it is advisable to not study pre-law before applying for law school, as they have not shown to be any more preparatory for students than other degrees. It’s quite common for people to enter law school with an arts degree, and even a Master’s degree.
These people are often very analytical, with excellent research skills and excellent written and verbal communication skills, all qualities required of an attorney. As long as you are smart, ambitious and a hard worker, your arts degree can take you to a high-paying law firm.
- Average salary: $164,439
- Degree type: Journalism, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science, Classics, and more.
The 2015 MCAT included a section for humanities, and why not? Med schools are recognizing that an undergraduate degree in pre-med or science isn’t the only option for prospective medical professionals. In fact, there is a rising demand for medical writers who are also M.D.s
According to a Forbes article, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) accepted 51 percent of applicants with humanities major and 45 percent of applicants with social science majors, compared to the 42 percent of biological science majors and 47 percent of the physical science majors who applied.
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These are just a few of the many, many career paths available to people with arts degrees. You will need to do your research and you will need to be creative when hunting for jobs--but luckily, those are your strong points, anyway! Own your passion and strive for a job you really enjoy, in a field where you feel at home.
Average salary estimates found on Payscale.