What is the best non-STEM major to pursue in Liberals Arts college to get the highest pay job post-college?
This is a great question. Liberal Arts offer many interesting and fulfilling majors: human resources, public relations, public affairs, education, publishing, archeology, languages, political science/government, history, geography, social sciences, law, and the humanities to name a few – there are so many possibilities.
As part of your core/general requirements you will probably have to take some basic math, science, and technology courses. These core courses are important because technology is becoming a big part of all careers – so you want to do really well in these courses.
Traditionally, there has been a bit of a challenge in translating what schools actually teach into careers. This is why advisors, career counselors, and the career center at your school are as important as the classes you take. Here are two articles that show you some of the great options with a liberal arts background (links at the end of this answer).
Realize that most people will change careers 3 – 5 times in their lives or more! And some careers haven’t even been invented yet! You might be the first person in a new field or new application.
Find areas that you really enjoy and think about how you will translate the classroom into your career. Liberal arts majors have the challenge of matching course work to actual job titles. So try to find a career that looks interesting to you and then look at what coursework you will need to reach that goal.
It can be really helpful to join a student chapter of an association that supports a specific profession. If you want to be an HR specialist, join a student chapter of a national HR organization – this will help you network, find mentors, and teach you the language of that specific field. Many practitioners in liberal arts have a combination degrees like law and politics or humanities and education. These combinations make you even more valuable...so it’s okay to change your mind or to pursue multiple areas since many skills transfer. Degrees can be applied in many different settings: public, private, big, small, academia, government, military. Liberal arts majors work everywhere.
The most crucial thing to remember about any degree is that this is a stepping stone to lifelong learning.
And critical thinking and good communications (written and verbal) are two of the most important skills you can develop for your “career toolkit.”
In liberal arts it is really important to shadow, volunteer, intern, and work in a variety of jobs so that you learn how to blend what you learn in the classroom with real world experiences. This might not seem related at first but read this article as you think about your career and your future: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/52904/how-can-i-create-my-personal-brand .
Also consider that when you apply for jobs you look carefully at each specific job and tailor it so that you communicate to a potential employer how your skills are transferable.
Check out these careers and challenge yourself to find some more articles.
Visit the schools you are interested in and “interview” their career center. How many graduates graduate on time? How many graduates find jobs or internships? What employers work with your school?
Victoria recommends the following next steps:
william recommends the following next steps:
Just a few follow up points to the already phenomenal advice from Victoria, from my own personal experience with a liberal arts education. You don't have to decide your major right away. So shop around and find what areas of coursework intrigue you.
Find what you love (cliche, but true).
Growing up I always had a deep love for the arts, but wasn't taught that it was a "practical" career path; luckily times have changed! Heading into college, I had plans to go to medical school, until my first art history class where I found something I could connect to: understanding not only the history of artists and their work, but of humans themselves along with the culture, trends, modes of expression, social issues, political climates, and so many other facets of the human condition that were interpreted and documented through art. I was always left wanting to understand more. Go to your professor and TA's office hours and have candid conversations about potential career choices. Keep up with your advisor. Seek out volunteer opportunities on campus and other social groups of interest where you can explore new activities. Sometimes thinking out loud with others helps clarify your true likes and dislikes; use that information to assess what careers will put you on a path for the monetary success you're seeking.
My liberal arts education inspired me to study abroad, opening my eyes to entirely new ways of living and understanding the world, eventually leading me to a career in food where I could use my hands to make edible art and connect with other humans in an entirely new way. Travel, travel, travel. Now is the time; if you can find a study abroad program that works, do it! It is always worth the money to experience life that is different from your own in this time of exploration. In the end, we actually discover just how similar we all really are. I've included some links below for programs if your school has limited offerings. Bonus: look into scholarships and grants that support students going abroad. (I wish I had.) There is money up for grabs, so take advantage! I've included a link below for how to find it.
Don't be afraid to 'fail.' Career changes are okay!
About two years ago, I decided it was time to pivot out of pastry chef life and started applying for positions I didn't think I had any qualifications for. I was rejected a number of times until I caught the interest of a recipe editor in need and dove head-first into the food startup and publishing world. I had never written an article. I had never professionally edited recipes to be published, but because of my art history education, I knew I could write, fact-check, think critically, and express and adapt my voice to various audiences. Combining these skills with my years in the kitchen, I knew what it meant to writes recipes, test them, rewrite them, and so on and so on. I knew what I wanted and I went for it with all the enthusiasm I had. Everything else I learned along the way. Within a year and a half, I've been entrusted to run the editorial department. My 'failures' have been my greatest motivating factors and teachers in life to keep learning and growing.
Your passion can produce monetary success, if you ask for it.
Long story short, while many didn't quite understand my choice in course study, it moved me, it excited me, and it taught me the importance of open conversation, connection, and community. It taught me how to manifest job positions that not only serve a purpose for myself, but for others as well. Find what sparks excitement and curiosity inside of you! It will help create a life-long path for meaningful work and success. I, too, have to support myself and am working to pay off student loans. While having the money to survive is necessary, remember that where you start isn't the determining factor of where you will end up. You'd be surprised how quickly you can move up if you apply and capitalize on what you already know and are open to learning to new skills along the way. And most of all: ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. This can be the biggest hurdle and life lesson, but if you don't ask, people will not know what to give you. When it's time, do some research on the average salaries of the desired position with geographical location and use that as base knowledge for negotiations. Sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great for that. Aim high!
Enjoy school and good luck!
Career Path Thoughts (both obvious and obscure!):
Financial Aid (Scholarships/Grants):
Ask for What You Want:
It's not so much about WHAT you study but more about HOW you apply to the real world. By this, I mean that all of the non-STEM majors in Liberal Arts are about equal--there's not one particular major that stands out in terms of future salary. What is a definite better predictor of salary is whether or not you are able to market yourself, able to identify what makes you valuable to an employer, able to use job searching strategies to the fullest, able to network effectively, able to get internships/research/leadership positions/extracurricular activities during your college years, able to clearly define your career path and follow it, etc.
Go to your career counselor to learn how to identify transferable skills you've gained, how to write about your experiences on your resume so they stand out, and more. Go to them as many times as you can. There is no easy shortcut or magical major you can choose that will instantly make you lots of money. It takes hard work and luck to get to where you want to be, so take advantage of your college's free career resources while you can.
The best STEM majors to pursue in the Liberals Arts would include a lot of courses requiring math and sciences. Some examples of these careers are nursing (have to enjoy taking care of others and working within the medical field), construction management, finance (you’ll need to have a good background in mathematics and enjoy problem-solving), accounting, international business (requires traveling).
Each career is unique and you should chose on what most interests you because you want to be able to enjoy your job and no think of it as something to pay off loans. I always suggest making a pros and cons list to help narrow your choices.
Here is a source to help you read more into this topic