Today, its no secret that educators and leaders are debating the effectiveness of higher education. During the 1960s, a national shift in outlook emerged, challenging the ideals of a liberal arts education in comparison to more narrow and specialized career-ready programs.
However, studies have routinely shown that students who pursued a liberal arts education reported having the most fulfilling careers. And as more and more people increasingly change jobs, these “soft skills,” (i.e. communications, problem solving, critical thinking and adaptability) inherent in a liberal arts education, have become the most desired by employers.
As it turns out, a liberal arts degree may be the best career investment yet.
Whether you are looking to change careers or launch a new one, here are seven booming professions that can begin with a liberal arts education.
1. Software DeveloperProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 26%
Average Salary: $120,730 per year
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree in computer science
Software developers create the technologies that we use every day. Some design applications for computers and other devices, while others develop the operating systems and networks that run those devices. As the U.S. market continues to drive demand for the latest mobile technologies, computer securities and healthcare systems, software developers find lucrative job opportunities in a range of industries.
2. Technical WriterProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 6%
Average Salary: $78,060 per year
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree in journalism, English or communications
Technical writers produce instruction manuals and other operating materials that simplify complex information for comprehension. Strong analytical, technical and copywriting skills are key. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase in the number and reliance of technologies and electronics for every day life will create more jobs for technical writers.
3. ActuaryProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 29%
Average Salary: $105,900 per year
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree in mathematics, actuarial science or statistics
Actuaries assess the financial costs and consequences associated with risk. They apply skills in mathematics, statistics and financial theory to develop business strategies that maximize profits in the probability of uncertain events. Instrumental to insurance companies and government agencies, actuaries will be in even higher demand to evaluate new costs and risks in the face of ever-changing healthcare laws.
4. Market Research AnalystProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 19%
Average Salary: $76,040 per year
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree in social sciences, mathematics, communications or computer science
Market research analysts study consumer behavior and market conditions to predict the potential sales of a product or service. They interpret data for companies that guide marketing strategies and sales plans. Since market research is crucial to financial success in most industries, analysts have the flexibility to work in a wide range of fields.
5. Advertising, Promotions or Marketing ManagerProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 10%
Average Salary: $135,030 per year
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree in communications, art or photography
Advertising, promotions and marketing managers create campaigns that generate awareness, interest and sales for a product or service. They collaborate with staff and clients to determine the most effective website layouts, media advertising plans, market research studies, special events and pricing strategies for a brand. As the marketplace continues to evolve with new products, advertising and promotions managers can enjoy strong, steady employment prospects.
6. Arbitrator, Mediator and ConciliatorProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 6%
Average Salary: $127,540
Typical Education: bachelor’s degree
Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators help settle disputes outside of the court system through discussion and negotiation. While most arbitrators are also attorneys or field experts, there is no specific degree related to conflict resolution, and a bachelor’s degree is often acceptable for these positions. Alternative dispute resolution methods are often considered faster and cheaper than trials, so any alternatives to litigation increase the demand for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators.
7. Environmental ScientistProjected Job Growth, 2021-2031: 5%
Average Salary: $82,090
Typical Education: bachelor's degree in environmental studies or biology
Environmental scientists apply various scientific disciplines to protect natural resources and human health. They are often sought after by policy makers and industries to minimize waste, prevent pollution and comply with regulations. While most employment growth is expected in the private sector, environmental scientists will find a concentration of jobs in government agencies, universities, hospitals and research facilities.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for accuracy.
Written by Thomas Edison State University