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Old 08-19-2010, 10:54 AM
bholas bholas is offline
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Default High-Paying Jobs for Generalists

Where are the good jobs for people who don't have specialized degrees in fields such as medicine, engineering and law and don't know how to do advanced coding in five different computer languages?

In other words, what kinds of good-paying jobs are out there that can be performed by the generalist -- someone with a typical liberal arts degree in English, geography, history or any one of the hundreds of other majors colleges and universities offer that aren't exactly job-friendly?

The best place to turn to see what's out there is the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It lists most, if not all, of the generally accepted job titles and the mean annual salaries accompanying them.

The most interesting and, to some extent, most distressing fact the data reveals is that there really aren't an abundance of lucrative occupational categories for liberal arts majors. What career paths are best for you and your degree in medieval history? Well, you either get an advanced degree in it so you can teach the subject you're passionate about, or you take the plunge into the waters of an uncertain job pool.

According to the BLS, the most lucrative jobs compatible with a less-than-specialized major fall under:
  • Real estate.
  • Management.
  • Business and finance.
  • Sales.
Real Estate
In real estate, salaries start at modest levels but can gradually build into a great income. The BLS reports that real estate brokers had a median salary of $57,500 in 2008, including commissions. People with all sorts of backgrounds end up in this field.

Hundreds of titles fall under the heading of "management" that don't necessarily require a degree in management. Of course, there are literally millions of managers in the workforce, and salaries vary greatly depending on the industry; a fast-food restaurant manager may make in the mid-$20,000 range, while an HR manager may make in the $70,000 range.

Business and Finance
Careers in business and finance are also available to those with obscure liberal arts degrees, although you may face an uphill battle competing for jobs against those who have degrees in business, finance and economics. Nonetheless, it's possible for a history major to land a job as a financial advisor, who earned median salaries of $69,050 in 2008, according to the BLS. Of course, you won't start at that kind of salary, but you can get there over time.

People in sales can earn anywhere from less than $20,000 annually to well into six figures, which probably makes sales the most high-risk, high-reward pursuit. It probably holds the potential to be the most lucrative occupation for the liberal arts major who has the right s**** set.

Other Options
Other generalist occupations with strong earning potential include communications jobs. For example, PR specialists had a median salary of $51,280 in 2008. And in the area of office and administrative support, the mean salary is in the low $40,000 range. Interestingly enough, one of the better-paying occupational areas doesn't even require a degree at all.

In construction, mean salaries range from the mid-$30s to the high-$50s.
Most other high-paying occupational fields, as defined by the BLS, require a specialized education. Just a few that deserve mention include accounting, architecture, IT, law and healthcare.
Qualities to Cultivate

So, with your brand-new degree in oceanography, what qualities will make you the most marketable for an entry-level real estate or sales position? Here's a partial listing of soft s****s Don Straits, CEO of Corporate Warriors, suggests you develop:
  • Initiative.
  • Self-confidence.
  • Leadership.
  • Compatibility with others.
  • Positive attitude.
  • Social s****s/interests/involvement.
  • Integrity.
  • Communication s****s.
Liberal arts majors may be more numerous than dandelions on a spring lawn, but that doesn't mean your bachelor's degree is useless. It can mean, however, that making the transition from student to employee will involve brushing up on those soft s****s. And it's safe to say that a college education will be a door opener, regardless of the occupational area you choose.

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