You Won't Believe The Starting Salaries For 2012 Liberal Arts Grads

Top-Paying Liberal Arts Majors

With all the press given to the astronomical wages that computer science or engineering grads can earn, you might think that a liberal arts degree is, well, fairly worthless in the job market. Not so. A new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds that three liberal arts majors had average starting salaries that topped $40,000 in 2012. They are:

  • Liberal arts and sciences/general studies, $43,100
  • History, $41,900
  • Literature/letters, $40,200

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NACE's report also shows that starting wages for these majors are significantly higher than those paid in 2011, up by 3.6 to 3.9 percent -- hefty jumps by today's measures. That's welcome news, especially for graduates who are carrying substantial college-loan debt.

What's more, even starting wages earned by visual and performing arts majors, at the bottom of NACE's most recent survey, showed an upswing last year of 3 percent, to an average $33,800.

Similar increases in starting salaries have been seen in other disciplines, too, such as engineering and computer science, as the graphic below shows:

top paying liberal arts majors

Further, earnings don't tell the whole story. As Forbes recently noted, liberal arts majors are just as satisfied or more satisfied with their lives as their classmates in other disciplines are.

What do you think? What major would you want your child to have -- or would you pursue if you're in college?




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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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28 Comments

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rohlemeyer

Maybe, but how many of these jobs are there?

February 22 2013 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sav147

these kids are suffering for the bone headed choices made by adults who continue to vote for fools in congress that have continually voted for laws and tax breaks for corporations that have driven down the cost of labor for the sake of higher profits,this doesnt help our country.Now they want to allow more foreign labor in under employer sponsered visas up to 300,000 a year, how much do you think college grads will make when they have to compete with college educated wetbacks in our country.Corporation claim they cant get enough educated and trained americans to do these enigeering, and other technical jobs what a load of ****!! Heres how it should work after all american gradutes have been hired if you still need people then hire foreign but keep numbers low to encourge americans to go to school, not worried that a job wont be waiting for them because it went to someone from anywhere but america.

February 11 2013 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
thefacts22

go to government big bro will protect you:
The head of the largest federal employee union said Saturday that President Obama’s proposal to increase pay for federal employees by 1 percent was “absolutely unconscionable” and “simply not enough.”
Nothing on Euro Vegas, HP? It will be creating thousands of jobs in Madrid, Spain, I sent the link last night.

February 11 2013 at 9:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Susan

Really? My son, business major, didn't find a job starting at 50K a year..It was less than 30K a year but has room for advancement so he took it and will try to work his way up the corporate ladder..These salaries might be true in a place like NYC but not in smaller cities..

February 11 2013 at 6:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rwgodwin

I have a bachelors and masters in political science/government. I don't even make 20 grand a year.

February 08 2013 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
SchallSJ

I graduated from a decent college with a law/justice degree and am making 41K a year with room for advancement. I get it's hard out there, it took me a full year of an unpaid internship (after I graduated so basically volunteer work) before they gave me a job.

February 08 2013 at 8:30 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Kevin

I wonder how faux news will spin these great numbers!!!

February 08 2013 at 7:59 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kevin's comment
ibe1grump

I wonder why you'd believe them in the first place. They don't need to be "spun", just read and find for yourself.

February 10 2013 at 6:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
radrut3

I don't know who paid off these people to creat these BS numbers, but they're just that bullst.......

February 08 2013 at 1:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
~the Blonde~

I have a BS in Communications, and an AAS in it as well...Where is my money?!

February 08 2013 at 1:01 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
sccond

I don't know; I've had three kids graduate since 2008 from decent colleges, decent grades with Finance or Business degrees. None of them started at more than 30K.

February 07 2013 at 10:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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