No, they’re not all working as baristas. When it comes to pay, job satisfaction and career advancement, humanities majors do just fine, a new report says.
The American Academy of Arts & Sciences wants you to know that studying the humanities is not a career-killing dead end.
In “The State of the Humanities 2018,” released last week, the national academy makes the case that humanities majors are doing just fine when it comes to pay, job satisfaction and career advancement.
And the report comes on the heels of a new Microsoft e-book on artificial intelligence, which discusses an important role that the social sciences and humanities will have in the development and management of artificial intelligence.
The academy’s report, which is based on U.S. census data and Gallup polling of workers nationwide, aims to show that humanities majors find jobs after college, don’t make that much less than other college graduates and are generally happy with their jobs.
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The researchers found that the median wage of a humanities major in 2015 was $52,000, or about $8,000 lower than the median for all college graduates. They do better, however, than graduates who majored in the life sciences, the arts or education.
They’re also paid significantly more than those with only an associate degree or high-school diploma.
Almost 87 percent reported they were satisfied with their job in 2015.
The report measured financial satisfaction with a survey that asked respondents for a yes-or-no answer to these questions: “I have enough money to do everything I want to do” and “In the last seven days, I have worried about money.” While 42 percent of humanities majors said they had enough money, their financial satisfaction wasn’t too far below that of engineers, 51 percent of whom said they had enough money to do what they wanted to do.
Unemployment among humanities majors — as in all fields — rose during the recession but is down now, to just about 4 percent among workers ages 24 to 55. And about 14 percent had jobs in management.
The picture isn’t all rosy. More than a third of humanities majors said there was no relationship between their job and their degree. About a third with bachelor’s degrees were employed in sales, service, office and administrative support jobs.
Humanities majors who went on to get an advanced degree, beyond a bachelor’s, generally did better, with higher median salaries and a closer match between their degrees and their occupations.
In its new book, Microsoft called for more liberal arts majors to study computer engineering, and for more tech engineers to take classes in the liberal arts.
“The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and Its Role in Society” includes an introduction by Microsoft President Brad Smith and the company’s executive vice president of Microsoft Artificial Intelligence, Harry Shum.
“Skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math,” the two executives wrote in a blog post about the book. “As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human-development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.
“If AI is to reach its potential in serving humans, then every engineer will need to learn more about the liberal arts and every liberal arts major will need to learn more about engineering,” Smith and Shum wrote.