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The Best Paying Liberal Arts Degrees

The term “liberal arts” is kind of a catchall for a variety of interests and specialties. From economics to literary pursuits, the only limit to your degree is your imagination. However, not all liberal arts degrees pay equally. 

While average liberal arts starting salaries trend around $40,000 annually, some industries have been raising yearly pay higher and higher. If you’re interested in a large payday in some of the country’s fast-paced job markets, here are the degrees you should be considering.


While a bachelor’s in economics might not get you all that far on its own (your end goal should be a master’s or Ph.D.) entry-level economist salaries are decent. In fact, many economics majors find the job market to be much more accommodating to new hires because numerous positions are available to talented graduates. While beginning salaries sometimes start around the national liberal arts average, well-educated professionals (including those who have pursued an online liberal arts master's degree) with a competitive edge can expect annual take-home pay in the six-figure range.

Plus, if you have an aptitude for numbers and analysis, plenty of career paths diverge from the traditional economist’s role. Financial analytics is a rapidly growing field in which businesses employ consultants to perform deep dives on their monetary history to find spots where they excel and places where adjustments need to be made. Insurance agencies and law firms are always looking for consultants to help them inform their purchase decisions so graduates with a keen eye won’t have too difficult a time finding a start to their careers.

Public relations specialist

It’s no secret that the humble communications major tends to get a lot of flak. Communications is often unfairly referred to as an easy major that’s ideal for unmotivated students. While a few college attendees prove this stereotype true, for the high achievers, it couldn’t be more removed from the truth. One of the more popular post-communications roles is that of the public relations specialist, an individual responsible for setting the tone and brand identity of both businesses and individuals.

As a bonus, public relations positions offer incredible career growth, and many PR specialists gravitate towards opening their own agencies. While starting salaries hover around the national average and sometimes get as high as $75,000 annually (and with accredited online and continuing education degree programs you can make much more), the growth opportunities the field presents means that the ceiling of your potential salary is as high as your drive and ambition. Go-getters need apply as PR requires time, effort, and dedication.

Graphic designers and artists

Who said those artistic degrees don’t pay? Clearly, whoever did wasn’t thinking about the immense value that designers, artists, and videographers add to each and every industry in the world. Lately, rich media is seen as one of the pillars upon which modern businesses live and die, so it’s paramount that companies are investing in top talent to help execute their visions and present them to the public at large.

Graphic design is one of the best fields of study for individuals interested in freelancing or sole proprietorships. You retain ultimate control of your time and your schedule while still providing immense value to all of your clients. The best part? You’re getting paid a premium for your time. If you have an aptitude for design and a true eye for art, pursue your passions. Starving artists are last year’s news. Lately, job markets are more interested in rewarding talent and creativity: Starting salaries cap around the $65,000 to $70,000 range.

Your choice matters

At the end of the day, don’t forget that money isn’t everything. As long as you’re passionate about your field of study and have something to contribute to your chosen industry, you’re able to add value to the job market at large. While a good payday is never a bad thing, remember that aspiring to educational excellence is just as important. No matter what major you choose, study hard and don’t skip class, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve when it comes time to get hired.

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