One of the main advantages of majoring in a classic liberal arts discipline, such as philosophy, art history or sociology, is you graduate with a degree you can apply to almost any type of work.
But what if you’re tired of hearing that? What if you chose your liberal arts major because you truly love the subject and want to get a job in that specific field? Are you doomed to a life of working your day job and catching up with your real passion at night and on weekends?
Not at all. While millions of jobs may not directly relate to your liberal arts major, some do. Here are some examples:
Publishing and Media
Remember all the textbooks and supplementary books you had to read as, say, a women’s studies major? If you’re good with words, why not put your degree to good use at a publishing company whose products are geared specifically to women’s issues?
Also remember that a variety of national and local magazines target women. Writers and editors produce the content for these publications, and advertising and marketing professionals make sure it gets into the right people’s hands.
One way for you to work in your field is to earn your master’s degree and then your PhD so you can become a professor at a college or university.
It may be a long, difficult and expensive path, but if you’re a knowledgeable, skilled teacher and researcher and you’re willing to move to where the available jobs are, there’s a decent chance you can make this work.
Every discipline has at least one national professional association comprised of people who either work in the field or are strongly interested in it. Many of these groups have regional and state affiliate organizations as well.
Someone needs to run them. Who better for the job than someone with that particular liberal arts degree?
Nonprofit organizations exist for practically any discipline you can think of. If you’re an art history major, you can search for nonprofits dedicated to the historical aspects of art and look for internship or even volunteer opportunities that might grow into full-time positions.
Organizations like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Ringling Museum of Art in Florida and Art in the School in New Mexico all have staff, some of whom have backgrounds in art history or a similar discipline. Since nonprofits exist all over the country, you could approach a few and ask about job opportunities.
Consulting and Self-Employment
Can a philosophy graduate become a highly paid business consultant, a therapist or a self-employed seminar leader? With an advanced degree and the right type of experience, yes.
Some companies today are bringing in independent corporate philosophers to help them clarify their institutional values or help their employees find better work-life balance. Meanwhile, members of fledgling professional groups like the American Philosophical Practitioners Association are using philosophical approaches to help people with personal problems, while others with philosophy backgrounds are teaching schoolchildren critical-thinking skills.
So contrary to what many people in your life might say ("You’re majoring in what?"), there are jobs that allow you to directly apply your degree. It may not be easy, and you may have to make some sacrifices along the way, but you’ll be rewarded with something too few people ever experience: Pursuing something you really love and getting paid for it.