10 Great Careers You Can Have With a Liberal Arts Degree


It's quite possible you were warned against getting a liberal arts degree. "It's too broad" or "you won't earn a great living" are statements often hurled at people who pursue liberal arts. Common majors include English, mathematics, communication, history, language, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and the arts (fine art, music, performing arts). However, there are many great careers and opportunities out there that pay an excellent wage, and offer a fulfilling vocation. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Public Relations Director

A public relations (PR) director is responsible for developing and executing strategies and tactics that will shine a positive light on his or her clients. You've no doubt heard the phrase "that's good PR," and most of the time, there's a PR director behind the campaign. The director will have climbed the ladder from lower positions in the PR department, and is responsible for managing those people who help make things happen. These days, a lot of PR is done through social media and TV appearances, but it can be done in any number of ways, including stunts, viral videos, promotions, and public appearances. The hours are not typically 9-to-5, but the rewards can be tremendous.

Annual salary: $88,169-$161,449

2. Archaeologist

Before you don the fedora and the whip, realize that archaeologists like Indiana Jones are pure fantasy. But that doesn't mean it's not a fun and rewarding career. Archaeology is the study of human activity through the ages, and involves the recovery and analysis of "material culture." Most archaeologists study human prehistory and history, and a typical week's work could involve surveying, excavating, and analyzing the findings. Where we have been, and how we got here today, are areas of great interest to archeologists. And of course, much of what they recover ends up on display in a museum.

Annual salary: $29,965-$71,266

3. Senior Copywriter

Do you have a way with words? Are you skilled in the art of persuasion? Do you often come up with wild and inventive ideas that would make people sit up and take notice? Then a career as a copywriter could be right up your alley. Most copywriters start out on pitifully low salaries, especially those working in the big name ad agencies. But after 5-7 years, you can land the role of senior copywriter, and make close to six figures. If you go freelance, you can double, or even triple, that amount. Senior copywriters often go on to become creative directors, and those salaries can hit seven figures in the New York and London shops.

Annual salary: $56,992-$95,357

4. Sales Director

It takes a certain kind of person to excel in sales. The main focus of the sales director is to sell products and/or services through the implementation of national (or even international) sales plans and promotions. The sales director will have a team of regional sales managers to oversee, and is responsible for the overall performance of the brand's financial success. Sales directors need to excel in negotiating, motivation, building relationships, coaching, market knowledge, developing budgets, and managing complex processes. It's a stressful job, but one that has great financial rewards.

Annual salary: $111,721-$207,227

5. Economist

If you're one of those lucky people who enjoys crunching numbers and researching economic trends, you could make a very comfortable living. An economist typically collects and analyzes data relating to economic issues, designs policies to solve economic problems, and prepares reports for businesses, governments, and individuals. Although math is at the core, economists work in a variety of different fields, including business, health, education, the environment, and energy. The insight of a talented economist can be invaluable, and as such, skilled economists are in high demand — the salary clearly reflects this.

Annual salary: $80,978-$174,300

6. Sociologist

Sociology gets a bad rap. It's frequently said that people who get a sociology degree mean well, but have not thought things through. Typical jobs synonymous with sociology are social work, roles in correctional facilities, and counselors. All of these positions have a low median wage, but that is only one side of the story. Professional sociologists can earn an excellent living. Their workweek involves designing research projects to test theories on social issues, collecting and analyzing data, collaborating with social scientists, and helping government policymakers to create the best possible initiatives. Areas of interest include health, crime, education, family, population, gender, and poverty. And helping others can be extremely fulfilling work.

Annual salary: $43,280-$129,760

7. Real Estate Broker

First, let's establish the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent. A real estate broker is a licensed individual who works for him or herself, whereas a real estate agent usually works for a broker or agency. Real estate brokers are typically go-getter types. They are driven, organized, ambitious, and charming. Day-to-day duties include soliciting clients who want to buy and sell properties, marketing those properties, arranging presentations and open houses, organizing paperwork, and supervising agents on the payroll. As it is primarily based on commission, the salary range is vast. Good brokers can earn a very handsome annual salary.

Annual salary: $29,333-$147,741

8. Psychologist

The lines between psychology and psychiatry often get blurred. The basic difference is that a psychologist focuses on treating emotional and mental suffering with behavioral therapy; and a psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor, and can therefore prescribe medications and go beyond therapy. But it takes a lot longer to become a trained and licensed psychiatrist. As a psychologist, you will spend the majority of your day interacting with individuals, couples, and groups. It may be emotionally stressful at times. Many psychologists work for themselves, some out of their own homes. You can set your own hours, and feel good knowing you spend every day helping people feel better.

Annual salary: $69,953-$111,703

9. Executive Assistant

If you are exceptionally well-organized, have software and scheduling skills, and are happy jumping whenever a big cheese demands it, then you should look into a career as an executive assistant. Big corporations these days have dozens of high-paid executives, and they all require an assistant to keep everything in order. It will go beyond just answering phones and emails, though. Get ready to conduct research, schedule travel and meetings, coordinate special projects, and supervise a lower tier of assistants and clerical staff. As top executives often work 70-hour weeks, you may be required to come into the office at unusual times. And don't be surprised to get phone calls at 3:30 a.m.

Annual salary: $47,717-$75,320

10. Actor

People with liberal arts degrees have a foundation of skills that make them good with people, and they are usually in touch with their emotions. These are both great qualities for an aspiring actor. While many actors, male and female, have to work a fairly ordinary day job to support themselves at first, some find their way into Hollywood's spotlight. And they can go from serving food to being served the finest meals in five-star hotels. For someone who makes it all the way to the top, like Dwayne Johnson ($64.5 million a year) or Jennifer Lawrence ($46 million a year) — it's a career that brings incredible rewards.

Annual salary: $20,040-$209,525…and way beyond!

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Guest's picture

Heh heh. Archaeology. I am an archaeologist. Please don't let anyone think this is any easy profession. Most folks work in cultural resources management, get spotty work, spend a lot of time on the dole, and have no benefits or job security. Few people make a successful lifelong career out of it. And the bit about most of the stuff we excavate ending up on display in museums? False.