Liberal Arts, STEM, and the best degrees for jobs

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Figuring out your career path can be tough. After all, who can possibly choose what they want to do for the rest of their life? It’s a lot of pressure to put on someone, especially an 18 year old. Heck, I’m 24, and it’s still a lot of pressure! I like writing about career paths because there’s soooo much I didn’t know when I was an undergrad.

While I don’t think there should be this huge divide between Liberal Arts and STEM degrees, I do feel that most people end up choosing one path over the other, and that these preferences reflect the kinds of careers one would be happiest in. Below, you’ll find a list of the best degrees for employment in each of these paths. This list is more general, and it is by no means all-inclusive.

Let’s start with Liberal Arts. 

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Now, this isn’t exactly a list of the best liberal arts degrees. Instead, it’s the best paths of study for people who gravitate toward broad science and humanities subjects. One thing you’ll find is that people who want to study more general subjects, like math, biology, English, or History, will find more opportunities if they pursue masters degrees or PhD’s. Specifically, if they pursue advanced degrees that will increase their chances of finding a job.

Here are some degrees to consider:

Education – I know, there’s nothing more cliche than asking a liberal arts major/degree holder if she wants to be a teacher. We’ve all been asked this at some point! But education is still a great career path for the right person, and a masters degree in this subject will give you an edge. The job outlook is especially good for preschool and elementary school teachers. Elementary school pays more, and so there’s more competition. The jobs are there, though, especially if you are willing to relocate.

Law – I include law school on this list because it’s hard not to. Everyone knows lawyers have some serious earning potential. Unfortunately, many people get law degrees these days, and so competition is fierce, especially if you want to work for a major firm. More jobs are opening up in corporate settings, but it’s not a guaranteed paycheck the way it used to be. Law school is a lot of work, and it’s expensive. Pursue your dreams, but be informed of the reality of the job market.

Social Work – You’ll have the most opportunities in the field with a masters degree in Social Work (MSW). There are many specialties in this field, including: family and children, schools, mental health, and healthcare. There are also many opportunities in nonprofits, the government, universities, politics, and business.

Salaries vary based on specialty, the type of organization you work for, and years of experience. Social Service managers have the highest earning potential. Many positions in this field can lead to burnout, so you have to take good care of yourself. But if you want to help people, and do your research on the realities of your specialty, this can be a worthwhile degree to pursue. The job outlook for a MSW is very good.

Mental Health – Like social work, the job outlook in mental health is good. A bachelor’s degree in psychology may make the job search a bit of a challenge. But a masters degree in mental health counseling, social work, (and maybe psychology or sociology) can often help you find jobs in counseling and therapy. If you have a degree in psych, a PhD can help you start a career as a psychologist, researcher, or professor.

Business – Like law, I add business to this list with a grain of salt. It can provide excellent opportunities as a career path, but as a degree? It depends. Many people get MBAs, have experience, and still struggle to find work. I think part of this is because many jobs in business don’t require a degree in the subject. One can also argue that this degree fits under the STEM umbrella. I include it in this Liberal Arts list because I feel that many creative, lib arts people are drawn to business as well.

This is one field where your bachelor’s degree in art history or philosophy can still pay off. You can find careers in management, marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, and human resources. Some, like marketing, are especially competitive, but these careers can be worth the effort for those who don’t wish to pursue an advanced degree. (Tip: Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up.)

Economics – Another degree that can fit under the STEM umbrella, economics is probably the highest paying liberal arts subject. Your challenge: advanced classes in math and statistics, and a love of research and data. Are you up for it?? If so, great! A bachelor’s degree in this subject could be the start of a lucrative career with a fair job outlook. You’ll need to get a masters or a PhD for the best opportunities.

Okay, those are a few advanced degree options for my liberal arts loves 🙂 ❤

Let’s move on to STEM. 

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In the U.S, everyone is told to get a STEM degree. But even people who eat, sleep, and breathe math and science can choose a less than lucrative degree path. Unlike people who prefer to study the liberal arts, people who study STEM have more options to make money with an associates or bachelor’s degree alone (how fancy!!).

Still, people who major in math, biology, chemistry, or even computer science may still struggle to know what to do after graduation. Here is a broad, if not a bit self-explanatory, list of the best degree paths to choose:

Medicine – As far as years of education go, the medical field is by far the most versatile. You can get an associates degree to be a rad tech or ultra sound tech, a bachelor’s degree to be a nurse, a masters to be an advanced nursing practitioner, healthcare administrator, or physician assistant, and of course you can go to medical school. If you enjoy helping people and are comfortable in hospitals and medical offices, a degree in the healthcare field can help you get an in demand job.

While associates degrees or even certificates can be a great way to start your career, keep in mind that they are less versatile than a bachelor’s, making a career change later on a bit more of a challenge. Medical careers also often require you to pass an exam to be certified in your state. Some jobs require you to be on your feet all day, and to sometimes lift and move patients. If you go to medical school, do your research. Specialties with a poor job outlook do exist!

Computer Science – We all know technology is a booming industry. Programmers, web developers, web designers, software engineers, and junior developers are all in demand, and make a good paycheck. Most jobs will want you to have a bachelor’s degree in CS, but some people in the field are self taught, or have a degree in another science, like physics.

This field can be challenging because your degree program won’t teach you many things you need to know for the job, like programming languages. As someone who’s dabbled in learning HTML, CSS, Python, Java, and Ruby, I can say it can be a bit exhausting. It’s an ever changing field, so you need to always learn and stay up to date. Jobs with startups and agencies can lead some people to feel burned out. But if you can dedicate yourself to learning code and staying current, this field can definitely be worth it.

Engineering – Ah, engineering, arguably the coolest STEM career path. It’s one of those areas where many people in the U.S say we’re “falling behind.” Despite these claims, most specialties in engineering have a slower than average job outlook according to the BLS. The job outlook isn’t great for: mechanical, environmental, electrical, and chemical engineers.

I’m not saying you can’t find a job in these subjects. I don’t have an engineering degree, so I can’t say fully. But based on what I’ve read, Civil Engineering offers the most job growth, and you’ll have the best opportunities with a masters degree in the subject. Petroleum engineering also has a good outlook (10% job growth), but I know this specialty depends on the economy and the industry as a whole. Be prepared to study math and physics!

Accounting – Good old, stable accounting. Of course the job outlook here is good. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, but still want to be an accountant, fear not. There are a select few masters programs that are designed for people with BA’s in unrelated subjects. It’s also possible to take core classes at community college, and to apply for a masters after. The best opportunities are found if you sit for the CPA (certified public accountant) exam.

If you pursue this path, you should love numbers, because you’ll be looking at financial records all day! A few months out of the year, such as during tax season, work hours can be long and stressful, but after that, things settle down. Competition is tough to work for a major accounting firm, and those first few years may be stressful, but stick with it! Things get better, especially if you can branch out to work for smaller firms. Many people find having a specialty, like helping small businesses or families with their taxes, to be very rewarding.

Finding a balance between following your passion and paying your bills can be tough. But educating yourself on the best options, and the not so great options, can be a big help. If your heart isn’t in pursuing a new degree, or if you’re no longer in love with your field, don’t worry. Just be persistent. Believe in yourself and find support ❤

Whether choosing a new degree path or exploring career options, knowledge is your key. Learn all you can, be wiser than you were yesterday, and always try your best. You’ve got this ❤

-ATL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dreams

sky dreams1

Dreams don’t fall into your lap

They’re too light

Content to float through the sky

Like clouds

.

College degrees, plans, lists

Hopes, wishes, ideas

None of these things

Will make dreams fall into your lap

.

You have to start small

Brick by brick

Taking steps

Working your way up

.

And eventually after building

And climbing and trying

And falling and getting back up again

You’ll get farther than you dreamed

.

Because you’ll be higher than the clouds

Seeing the bluest sky and the brightest sun

Because all along, you’ve had the ability to climb

And to rise until your dreams were your home.

Secret Door

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There’s a secret door inside your soul

It leads to your most sacred dreams

A unique world of your own creation

A place where joy freely flows

.

Float above the fluffy, white clouds

Stand on top of the highest mountain

See a sky full of constellations

Believe in your wildest dreams.

 

……….

Thanks for reading! Do you like this post? Then you’ll LOVE my poetry books. Check them out on Amazon ❤

https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Tiara-Lilly/e/B01AAXMC16/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1504539163&sr=1-2-ent

 

Follow Your Fear

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“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ah, poets. They give the best advice, don’t they? For the past few years of my life, I’ve found this to be the most important piece of wisdom I could ever follow. There’s so many things that we never do because we are afraid. But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that years later, you look back and that thing you were so afraid of is a lot less big and scary in hindsight.

It’s like the shadows you used to be afraid of when you were alone in your room at night as a kid. In the moment, it’s terrifying. When you have some distance from it, you realize you had nothing to worry about.

Often, when I face a fear, when I do something that feels like it will make the world crumble around me, the results are, more often than not, unremarkable. In most cases, the sky doesn’t fall, my life isn’t ruined, and sometimes, nothing extremely bad or extremely good comes of it.

Nothing, except that I’m a little braver, bolder, stronger, and more myself than I was before. The thing about facing fears is that, no matter how many times you do it, there’s always something else to be afraid of. There’s always something else to face. When something scares me, it almost feels ridiculous at times. Because I can look back on my life and think, ‘I’ve been through this, I’ve overcome that, I’ve faced this other thing, and I’ve gotten through that.’

Somehow, it never gets any easier to face a fear. But every time you do it, it makes you better.

What are you afraid of? What is that thing? You know exactly the thing I’m talking about.

Go do it. You’ll be all the better for it.

I hate freelance writing, and you can, too.

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This is kind of a tongue in cheek post 🙂 I think everyone who enjoys writing has considered, at one time or another, the idea of trying to turn freelance writing into a career, or at least a side hustle. In this glorious information age, there are a lot of people out there sharing information about how, through the glorious power of freelancing, they were able to quit their 9-5 and be their own boss, working from anywhere while they sip Mojitos and sing along to the sweet sound of freedom.

There’s lots of advice for how one can get started in a freelance writing career. These tips often include: creating a website, starting a blog (wink wink), choosing a niche, cold pitching, the list goes on.

For a while I thought that enjoying writing meant that I should enjoy freelancing, too. But the truth is, it’s not the thing that fuels my soul. And the incredible amount of work you need to do to build, and maintain, a freelance writing career is just. not. worth it to me. A lot of people swear by freelance copywriting and writing for businesses, but honestly? I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I love wordsmithing as much as the next person, but hey, to each their own.

A lot of people want to work freelance, but have no idea how to get started. I also see many people in forums centered around this topic, who almost act kind of, um, superior and indignant when someone doesn’t want their services. It’s an honest living if you can get it, but I think internet gurus with popular blogs and YouTube channels make people think this job may be a bit more in demand than it really is.

The only thing I really know about this kind of work is that, if you want to succeed, there has to be a need (it rhymes, so it must be true 🙂 ) So, who needs freelance writers? Some of these clients include:

Magazines

Newspapers

Blogs and Media Websites

Advertising and other Creative Agencies

Businesses and Large Nonprofits

People tend to find these gigs by cold pitching or applying to freelance jobs on Craigslist or other job boards. The really successful people sometimes get clients coming to them through their website or blog if they’re popular enough, but it’s rare for a beginner to get work that way, based on what I’ve seen.

I written for magazines, websites, blogs, and a creative agency. I haven’t built a six figure business after developing a niche in six months (this does seem to be the magic number for most gurus), but I’ve done enough different kinds of freelance work to know it’s not what I want, at least not right now. I’m at a place in my life where working for one company full time is the ideal. That may just be my personality, anyway.

I’ve also made more money selling my poetry books than I have from writing for other people. Go figure! Some people may be content earning the big bucks writing case studies, grant proposals, and ad copy. And seriously, all power to them. But I realize that I like writing, but it doesn’t mean I have to want ANY career that involves words 😉

Maybe someone can relate to this post. Or maybe it’s just me lol. I just feel like a lot of people out there are trying to freelance full time. And I see so many people getting discouraged when the advice from the gurus doesn’t work for them. You don’t have to work freelance just because everyone else across the interwebs is doing it.

My career so far has been a lot of trial and error. I’ve tried things. Some worked, some didn’t. Some things stuck, some didn’t. It’s all a process. What works for someone else may not work for you. Someone may think your approach couldn’t possibly work, but you might prove them wrong.

Do whatever works for you. Follow your arrow. And if you’ve been thinking, researching, and wondering if you should start a freelance writing career, know that you absolutely can go for it.

You just might hate it as much as I do 🙂

English and Communications Degree: Careers, Grad School, and Finding Your Path

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Figuring out your career path when you have a degree that doesn’t lead to a specific job can be tough. People who study subjects like English, history, philosophy, or general maths and sciences like biology or chemistry are often assumed by others to have limited jobs available to them.

It’s certainly not as straightforward as studying engineering, nursing, education, medicine, law, social work, mental health, or accounting. Degrees that lead to a specific career path take out the guesswork of having to choose a career after graduation. Having a more broad degree still has it’s advantages, however, because you don’t have to feel stuck in one career path.

For creative types, this can be a good thing, because we can get restless, curious, and bored if we feel restricted to one path. I know, this all sounds fine and dandy until you’re left with an empty wallet, no sense of direction, a “useless” degree, and an overwhelming pile of debt. But the truth is, the old mantra they used to tell us in elementary school is true, knowledge really IS power.

All degrees open up doors to more careers and more opportunities. The challenge of carving out a career path when your degree doesn’t lead to a specific job is exactly that, a challenge. Are you up for it? I think you are! Even people who have degrees in accounting or engineering should know that their degree opens MANY doors, not just the one path. Anyone can want a career change in their life at any time, so the truth is, what you study, in many cases, doesn’t matter. Many people end up pursuing careers not related to what they studied.

If you have a degree in English, Communications, or any other liberal arts subject, don’t believe there are no careers out there for you. There are several. Does that mean it will be easy to get started? Not at all. You have to choose a path that’s right for you, and then you have to build your resume up with relevant experience if you don’t already have it. Volunteering for a local nonprofit is probably the best way to do it.

Internships can be good, too, but sometimes you need experience for those, too. Choosing a nonprofit and volunteering with them for at least a year is a great way to gain experience. Try to volunteer doing something related to the career you want. If you don’t know what you want to do, try out a few things within the organization. If you can do this before you graduate, even better.

Building a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, try things, fail, and fail again. It means you’re one step closer to success. If you’re still trying to figure out your career, your not alone. I’m in the same boat, but I know we can do it 🙂 Here are some careers to consider if you have a degree in English or Communications:

Journalist for newspapers, magazines, or blogs

Editorial Assistant

Publicity Assistant

Junior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter

Proofreader/ Copy Editor

Fact Checker

Grant Writer

Fundraiser

Technical Writer

Accounting Clerk

Social Media Manager

Event Planner

Public Relations Specialist

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Manager

Account Executive

Assistant Manager

General Manager

Human Resources Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Medical Receptionist

Executive Assistant

English/Literacy Teacher

ESL/TESOL Instructor

Tour Guide

Art Gallery Associate

These are some of the careers you can consider if you have a degree in English or communications. For some, you may need to learn new skills or get a new certification, but if it’s something you really want to do, it’s more than worth it. You can also consider these subjects for grad school:

English

Creative Writing

Library Science

Media Studies

Education

Literacy and Language

Public Relations

Advertising

The truth is, you can study anything in grad school. Don’t have the prerequisites you need? Go back to community college and take them. That’s not to say that it’s easy, or that taking on more debt or spending more money is a casual decision. But it’s important to realize that you are not limited by your degree. There is nothing wrong with studying something you love. In my opinion, it’s what you should do every time. Follow your bliss.

Building a career is not easy. Having options is great, but you do need to choose a path and you do need to gain experience. The path to gaining experience, interning, or volunteering may seem long, but look at it this way. The time you spend volunteering and learning from experience, is not much different from the time someone else is spending in grad school, med school, or law school. Things take time, and that is okay.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. You have options, you have a future, and you have opportunities. Get out there and find them. I’ll be doing the same. ❤