For those of us with college and graduate level degrees in the humanities, like an English degree, we know how difficult it is to defend our choice. There is a prevailing assumption that there are no jobs for humanities graduates; four or more years have been wasted on an education that has no practical use in the job market. But those assumptions are starting to change due to new reports comparing earnings over the length of a career with degrees and majors.
“How Liberal-Arts Majors Fare Over the Long Haul”, an article posted online in The Chronicle of Higher Education, cites a report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities that finds graduates’ earnings with various degrees in the humanities, based on salaries over the course of a career, are on the same level as graduates with professional degrees.
“How Liberal-Arts Majors Fare Over the Long Haul” also points out that the level of education matters. Humanities graduates directly out of college, in 2010 and 2011, earned an average of $26,271 and increasing to $66,185 at peak earning age. While humanities graduates with only a bachelor’s degree start out earning less that graduates in fields like engineering, the report finds that humanities graduates that also earn a master’s degree see a significant increase in annual earnings, “median annual earnings rise of $19,550” according to the report.
As the report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities shows, the prospective job market for humanities majors is not so bleak after all. We English majors can carry our theory books, poetry volumes, and our own half-written novels knowing that all our hard work is worthwhile.
By Rachel Simonds