A recent study done by the American Academy for Arts & Sciences on the state of Humanities in 2018 has found both an increase in employment opportunities for humanities majors and increases in overall earnings and salaries over the past three years.
Skeptics of humanities degrees have traditionally attacked the fields relatively low starting income. However, as of late the overall “median annual earnings for workers with just a terminal bachelor’s degree in the humanities stood at $52,000 in 2015, which was somewhat lower than the median for all college graduates ($60,000) and substantially lower than the median for those in engineering ($82,000)” with an additional advanced degree in humanities, majors can look at making more than $70,000 anually. “Obtaining an advanced degree makes a substantial difference in the earnings of college graduates. Among humanities graduates, advanced degree holders had median earnings that were 38% higher than those of workers with only a bachelor’s degree ($72,000 as compared to $52,000).” The study also demonstrated that in nearly every field –including engineering, humanities and business – an advanced degree in addition to a bachelors will increase the overall income of workers by upwards of $30,000 annually.
Student debt is also addressed in the study, showing that when most degrees are compared to humanities costs at ages under 35 that humanities majors are beginning to leave college with less debt than their counterparts in other fields. In the last three years, debt rates among humanities majors has significantly decreased among all age groups, furthermore the rates are expected to continue dropping for the foreseeable future.
The study also looked into social issues pertaining to employment within careers, demonstrating the differences in median income for workers in different fields based on gender. Engineering, business and education have the smallest gap. Behavioral sciences, medical sciences and physical sciences have the largest gaps at all levels. Additionally, age based pay gaps have become apparent in fields such as life and physical sciences, becoming worse as time goes on.
Satisfaction with employment was substantially higher than most other fields among humanities majors. When majors were asked yes or no answers to questions such as “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 far below engineers who at 51 percent had the highest rate. Compared to other fields humanities has been steadily growing to become one of the most satisfactory fields to work in while “More than half of arts graduates (51%) reported they had worried about money in the past seven days, and 47% of the graduates from the social sciences shared that concern. The share of humanities graduates who had recently worried about money (42.4%) was close to the shares of graduates from the natural sciences, education, and business.