Humanities and Social Sciences Careers: 2021 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary

Humanities and Social Sciences Careers: 2021 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The humanities center on languages, literature, the arts, and philosophy. On the other hand, the social sciences are focused on history, psychology, and economics. The humanities and the social sciences have their differences, but one thing common about them is that they are both focused on human life and our evolution and behavior in social and cultural settings (Into Study, n.d.).

Traversing myriad industries and career paths, humanities and social sciences graduates can strive for education, business, media and communication, social services, and many more careers. Notable ones are preschool teachers, library assistants, research analysts, journalists, economists, and political scientists (Epps, 2020). Wherever your interests may lie in, significant skills honed through these fields are greatly valued by many employers across industries, capable of establishing a strong foundation for advanced degrees in many specializations.

You can find out where the humanities and social sciences career path may take you in this guide, especially in terms of job options, salary potential, and career advancement.

Humanities and Social Sciences Careers Table of Contents

  1. Why pursue a career in humanities and social sciences?
  2. Humanities and Social Sciences Career Outlook
  3. Required Skills for Humanities and Social Sciences
  4. How to Start Your Career in Humanities and Social Sciences
  5. How can I advance my career in humanities and social sciences?
  6. Alternative Career Options for Humanities and Social Sciences

Why pursue a career in humanities and social sciences?

One good reason to take the humanities and social sciences career path is that these disciplines are pivotal to future societies. They help us remain connected to reality despite our generation going almost completely digital, guiding us to make better decisions and become more inquisitive.

Graduates of humanities and social sciences degrees develop highly adaptable life-long skills, such as arguing compellingly, leading a team, communicating effectively, conducting research, analyzing huge problems and data sets, and deciding on crucial matters. They improve their quality of living, making their professions more fulfilling, far-reaching, and engaging (Fullerton University, n.d.).

CEOs who are humanities graduates

Humanities and Social Sciences Career Outlook 

Depending on the industry, degree level, and type of occupation, outlook for the humanities and social sciences careers differ. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that the number of jobs in these fields will increase by 7% from 2018 to 2028 (Epps, 2020).

Moreover, the average humanities and social sciences salary was $68,160 in 2019, much higher than the average salary for all other jobs. Still, salaries differ by profession due to the diversity of these fields.

The table below shows the possible jobs, early career pay, and job satisfaction rate of humanities graduates.

Possible Jobs, Early Career Pay, and Job Satisfaction Rate of Humanities Majors

Humanities MajorPossible Jobs With This MajorEarly Career PayJob Satisfaction
Exercise Physiology MajorExercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Exercise Specialist$38,00072%
Mass CommunicationPR Specialist, Meeting/Event Planner, College Alumni and Development Officer, Media Planner, Social Media Manager, HR Specialist$41,30045%
LinguisticsEFL Teacher, Lexicographer, Publishing Copyeditor/Proofreader, Speech and Language Therapist, Teaching Assistant$47,90040%
Digital MediaMedia Planner, Multimedia Specialist, Program Researcher, Broadcasting/Film/Video, PR Officer, Runner, Social Media Manager$42,30036%
JournalismJournalist, Managing Editor, Publications Editor$42,60042%
Source: Business Insider, 2019

Required Skills for Humanities and Social Sciences

Humanities and social sciences workers will be tasked to probe events, developments, problems, and more, both historical and modern (Rossmoyne Senior High School, n.d.). Take note of the following skills if you are planning to enter the humanities and social sciences workforce.

what is more important than a degree

Essential Skills for Humanities and Social Sciences Professionals

  • Questioning. Questioning skills are essential to criminal investigator or psychologist roles. These skills are useful for asking about key events, developments, concerns, and occurrences that would lead to new discoveries.
  • Analysis, Researching, and Evaluating. Workers in the field will always be ordered to gather information or data and study them. They must identify and figure out the accuracy and reliability of such items before making a conclusion.
  • Civic Engagement, Global Learning, and/or Intercultural Knowledge. These skills are needed when exploring issues, phenomena, and historical artifacts to identify problems; analyzing pieces of evidence to form an opinion; helping communities enrich their lives; studying national and global systems, and promoting effective interactions in different cultural settings.

General Skills for Humanities and Social Sciences Professionals

  • Communication. Humanities and social sciences professionals must be able to present findings appropriately for various audiences and goals.
  • Creative Thinking. Creative thinking lets humanities and social sciences experts do their jobs well. It is also an important skill for personal development and understanding human experiences.
  • Critical Thinking. Critical thinking is necessary for almost any kind of field as it helps in analyzing circumstances and making the right decisions.

The British Academy published the 2020 report “Qualified for the Future: Quantifying demand for arts, humanities, and social science skills” to showcase the tangible benefits of arts, humanities, and social sciences skills to the United Kingdom workforce, society, and economy today and in the future. “Much of the debate around future skills has focused on the needs of the workforce and ensuring that the U.K. economy is well equipped. But the challenges of the future are not confined to the workplace. There are a growing number of organizations dedicated to identifying, unpicking, and planning for the challenges facing humanity in the future. Although there is no complete consensus on what these are, there are several common themes: climate change and resource scarcity, pandemics and global health, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, international terrorism, and new methods of warfare.”

How to Start Your Career in Humanities and Social Sciences

For entry-level humanities and social sciences positions, an associate degree is usually a requirement. However, most jobs in the fields require a bachelor’s degree. Earning a graduate degree is also beneficial as master’s degree and doctorate degree programs are specialized and concentrated on certain areas. Advanced degrees can make you eligible for promotions and salary raises, which can help you achieve your career goals in humanities and social sciences faster (Epps, 2020).

What can I do with an Associate’s Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences?

Paralegal

Paralegals record and arrange files, perform legal research, and collect evidence to support lawyers. They may also probe a case, perform research on laws and regulations, and outline legal documents. They usually communicate with witnesses and clients to plan interviews or depositions.

Median salary: $51,740

Social and Human Service Assistant

Social and human service assistants provide psychology and social works with client services. They aid clients in recognizing benefits and community services. They may also develop treatment programs, research materials, and coordinate services.

Median salary: $35,060

What can I do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences? 

Geographer

Geographers analyze the nature and use of the surface of the Earth, linking and interpreting physical and cultural events.

Median salary:  $71,372

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers plan, create, and conduct surveys. They may also interpret survey results, determine survey goals, or recommend or test question wording.

Median salary:  $66,960

Source: College Values Online, 2020

Can you get a humanities and social sciences job with just a certificate?

In the humanities and social sciences fields, a certificate can only improve a graduate’s presence toward the hiring authorities. Certificates may also increase skills and experiences in many disciplines (Online Studies, n.d.).

How can I advance my career in humanities and social sciences?

A graduate degree can support your career development plan in humanities and social sciences. Then, more possibilities may come your way, such as world-class education, fun internships, going international, and job opportunities worldwide. It may also lead to paths in psychology, education, history, fine arts, political science, international relations, and more, with other specific specialization areas available (Masters Studies, n.d.).

What can I do with a Master’s in Humanities and Social Sciences?

Anthropologist

Anthropologists research, evaluate, and develop public policy regarding human origins; their development in terms of physical, social, linguistic, and cultural factors; and their behavior, plus, their cultures and established organizations and institutions.

Median salary: $72,079

Historian

Historians research, study, and interpret historical events as documented in sources, such as government and institutional papers, newspapers and other periodicals, images, interviews, films, electronic media, and unreleased manuscripts like diaries and letters.

Median salary: $100,000

What kind of job can I get with a Doctorate in Humanities and Social Sciences?

Economist

Economists perform research, prepare reports, or develop plans to solve economic problems. They may also gather and process economic and statistical data through sampling and econometric methodologies.

Median salary: $120,800

Political Scientist

Political scientists investigate the origins, developments, and functions of political systems. They may also delve into topics, like public opinion, ideology, and political decision-making. Furthermore, they may probe government structures and operations, as well as different political groups.

Median salary: $124,100

Source: College Factual

Which certification is best for humanities and social sciences?

One of the most popular certification bodies in the humanities and social sciences fields is the American Institute of Certified Planners. This body certifies regional planners who would meet their educational requirements and pass their exams.

Alternative Career Options for Humanities and Social Sciences

Not all humanities and social sciences graduates know what to do right after graduation. Here are some alternative jobs you might want to try.

What else can a humanities and social sciences professional do?

Intelligence Officer/Operational Officer

Intelligence officers/operational officers protect the country from threats such as cyberattacks and terrorism. These roles, despite being data-driven and requiring more technical background, only require a second-class lower division degree or related work experience.

Foreign Correspondent

Since you have already known a lot of world leaders and events, maybe you could use some of that knowledge to become a foreign correspondent. Being tasked to report on international affairs, you would be working for print, radio, or television.

Understand Life Through the Humanities and Social Sciences

Many have argued that humanities and social sciences studies are a total waste of time as nontechnical degrees tend to have high unemployment rates. But, as historian and Professor Dr. Elwood Watson puts it, minimizing the value of the humanities, or other areas of pedagogic questioning for that reason, to one’s capacity to gain enough income is to misinterpret the objective of what studying is all about (DLSI, 2014).

Humanities and social sciences subjects provide everyone with opportunities to appreciate the planet that we live in, as well as how we, as humans, can contribute skills needed to adapt to the contemporary era (You Study, n.d.). These disciplines educate us about an ever-changing world, improve our quality of living, answer the most difficult questions about life, foster creativity and diversity for all of us, and help us understand humanity as a whole.

 

References:

  1. DLSI. (2014, July 18). Studying the Humanities. DLSI.
  2. EasyUni. (n.d.). Study Humanities & Social Sciences in the United States. EasyUni.
  3. Epps, T. (2020, October 5). Humanities and Social Sciences Careers. Best Colleges.
  4. Fullerton University (n.d.). The Value of Your Degree. Fullerton University.
  5. Into Study. (n.d.).  Why study Humanities and Social Sciences? Into Study.
  6. Masters Studies. (n.d.). Masters Programs in Humanities Studies in USA 2021/2022. Masters Studies.
  7. Murray, J. (2017, December 9). 5 alternative graduate jobs for Arts and Humanities students. Debut.
  8. Online Studies (n.d.). Online Certificate Programs in Social Sciences 2021/2022. Online Studies.
  9. Owl Guru. (n.d.). List of Social Science and Humanities Careers. Owl Guru.
  10. Rossmoyne Senior High School (n.d.). Developing Future-Ready Students with an Inclusive and Inspiring Positive Approach. Rossmoyne Senior High School.
  11. Seattle Central College. (n.d.). Shared Social Science Outcomes. Seattle Central College.
  12. The British Academy. (2020, May). Qualified for the Future: quantifying demand for arts, humanities, and social science skills. The British Academy.
  13. You Study. (n.d.). Humanities & Social Science. You Study.

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