When considering your college major and path of study, do not overlook the value of a specialized degree in liberal arts. Although the current perception among some experts is that a liberal arts education doesn’t prepare students for career success, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, studying multiple disciplines with a focus on skill development often positions liberal arts graduates for more opportunities and higher earnings than vocationally-focused degrees.
Here, we explain how studying a variety of subjects can benefit your career and help you navigate the challenges of today’s competitive job market.
The Importance of Soft Skills
For most people, the purpose of a college education is to prepare them for a career. In many cases, this means learning job-specific skills for entry-level work that eliminates the need for significant on-the-job training. Engineering, accounting, and nursing are just some fields requiring individuals to have demonstrable job-specific skills.
In most other fields, while employers value technical skills, they put a greater emphasis on their worker’s soft skills. Soft skills are the personality traits, like communication abilities and emotional intelligence, that influence your interactions with people and your ability to work with others. Unfortunately, according to executives, most workers lack the soft skills necessary for success.
While employers want to see evidence of competencies like problem-solving, analytical thinking, and research abilities on job candidate resumes, these aren’t teachable skills. You can learn how to use a computer program in a classroom, but it requires experience and exposure to a variety of perspectives to fully develop your soft skills. Pursuing a specialized degree in liberal arts rather than a vocation-focused degree provides opportunities to build a long list of transferable skills.
Another significant advantage of a liberal arts education that focuses on soft skill competencies is that your skills never become obsolete or expire. We live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world, and the most in-demand technical competencies of today may become outdated and irrelevant tomorrow. Exceptional communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills will always be in demand, and when you focus on building and improving them, you’ll always be one step ahead of the competition.
Unmatched Career Flexibility
The term “specialized degree” highlights one of the most significant issues with a vocational or career-specific degree: It is specialized. This means that the majority of coursework focuses on hard skills that may not be transferable or relevant to other fields. A specialized degree is inherently limiting since it prepares you to work only in that particular field, and a future career change requires additional education and training.
A liberal arts education, in contrast, allows students to pursue opportunities in a wide range of fields. The degree incorporates multiple areas of study, including courses in the humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences, allowing students to explore different fields and perspectives. While most students select a specialized major after completing introductory courses and focus their studies on one subject, other programs allow students to design their own specialized degree in liberal arts that draws from multiple disciplines to better align with their interests and goals.
Whatever you choose to study, most employers are more concerned about your skills than the specific courses you take. Liberal arts covers a wide range of subjects that prepare you for many different roles. For example, you can choose to pursue a career in:
- Social Services
- And more
What makes a liberal arts degree so flexible is that you are not limited by your major. For example, when you study political science, you can apply your skills to a career in public office but also work as a journalist, a community organizer, or in government relations for a business or healthcare organization. Your knowledge of political concepts and processes, combined with research, communication, analysis, and problem-solving skills, can position you for a range of opportunities.
Some of the specific job roles that liberal arts graduates take on include:
- Graphic designer
- Technical writer
- Healthcare administrator
- Project manager
- Sales managers and representatives
- Community health worker
- Data analyst
- Social worker
- Human resources manager
Liberal arts graduates can find success in a diverse array of fields because the majority of employers see the value in a broad-based education. Companies prefer to hire individuals with the cross-functional skills that a liberal arts degree provides, so you get the most value from your educational pursuits when you choose this path.
The Financial Advantages of a Liberal Arts Education
Multiple factors play into your career earning potential, from the field and job role to where you live. In general, though, liberal arts graduates earn competitive salaries. Studies reveal that over the course of their careers, liberal arts grads actually see a larger return on investment in their degrees than those who earn more specialized credentials.
Not only does a specialized degree in liberal arts offer a higher-than-average ROI on their educational pursuits, but graduates also enjoy greater job security throughout their careers. Their transferable skills allow plenty of flexibility to respond to challenges within the job market. With a liberal arts degree, you can pivot and seek new opportunities in other fields when necessary, ensuring financial stability and career fulfillment.
With changes in public perception about liberal arts degrees—to the point where some schools no longer offer certain majors—many students question whether a liberal arts degree is worth pursuing. Considering employer preferences and their willingness to invest in talented individuals who excel in creative thinking, communication, problem-solving, and research, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
If you want to pursue a path where specific hard skills are essential to success, a liberal arts degree is not the best choice. However, if you want a flexible option that allows you to explore your interests while developing the qualities employers are looking for, consider a liberal arts program. You can learn more about your options and compare the advantages of a specialized degree in liberal arts to other options by visiting LiberalArtsEDU.org.