New Study: Technical Skills Help Liberal Arts Majors on Job Hunt

By: Daniel Steingold | June 09, 2016

It is commonly thought that being an English or Literature major means that one is doomed when it comes to looking for full-time work.

A new study of entry-level job openings, however, has found that any liberal arts major can improve his or her job prospects by becoming proficient in one of eight specialized skill sets, such as programming, social media, or data entry.

These new findings are hoped to help lessen the voices of any pundits who strongly argue against choosing a less career-oriented subject to study in college. In fact, it has been found that the soft skills that a liberal arts education provides are highly desired by employers; specific technical skills are simply also desired on top of these.

The study examined a year’s worth of jobs ads for entry-level positions requiring a bachelor’s degree, finding 955,000 positions. Upon identifying specific skills in eight fields, it found an additional 863,000 positions.

For example, adding competencies in data analysis or management resulted in finding an additional 137,000 positions. These data analysis positions also paid an average of $12,700 a year more than standard positions for liberal arts majors without these skills.

Many disciplines, such as ones in computer programming, paid even more on average. Overall, the study found that the average salary for jobs requiring technical skills was $6,000 more than what a regular liberal arts major would make.

The study suggests that liberal arts majors can add skills through a variety of means, such as taking a minor, a summer course, or through work.

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