If you choose to study arts or humanities at universities, you’re likely to have lots of awkward conversations about whether such a degree would land you a good job or earn you a decent wage.
But, according to a study by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS), you can now confidently inform these naysayers that though you may not be the highest earning graduate, you’d at least be among the happiest.
The study says arts and humanities graduates are more likely to be interested in the work they are doing, feel fulfilled by their employment and hold positions of authority, more so than those who take up other subjects.
“I think the top-line numbers about earnings still tend to drive much of the conversation, while the counterexamples are too often anecdata. Hopefully, these numbers will provide for a better-grounded discussion,” Robert B. Townsend, director of the Washington office of the AAAS, told Inside Higher Ed.
The study reportedly looked at data from the US Census and other government sources, as well as Gallup polling of workers nationwide.
the only person i know who is remotely happy at uni rn is in humanities no surprise there
— OnlyOneOf the 7th sense (Sexy Cover Ver.) (@Smolleadernim) January 27, 2018
The report shows the average salary for those with humanities bachelor’s degrees was US$52,000 in 2015, less than the average graduate salary of US$60,000 and much lower than those in engineering (US$82,000).
Despite this, humanities graduates report a similar level of satisfaction about their earnings as their peers who earn a lot more. In fact, the study says nearly 87 percent of all workers with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities were satisfied with their job in 2015.
The report should “contradict the popular narrative about under-employed baristas and the need to redirect students away from these disciplines,” Matthew T. Hora, an assistant professor in liberal arts and applied studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who studies the path from college to the workforce, told The Chronicle of Higher Education
However, despite humanities graduates enjoying their roles at work, the study found that more than a third saw no relationship between their jobs and their degree. This is unlike the 15 percent of graduates from engineering and the health and medical sciences who said otherwise.
But The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this shows humanities majors to be dynamic and leading to a range of industries.
Although it is unclear whether humanities graduates “are highly desired in these occupations and thus are snapped up by employers, or if graduates fall into these careers because other options have dried up,” said Hora.