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Is a degree in the arts necessary to finding a career?

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While a degree in the arts may be useful for some careers, it is by no means a general necessity for finding a career. In fact, many other degrees, such as engineering, nursing and information technology, are far more likely to lead to lucrative job prospects.

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The notion of “the arts” implies a broad category that can encompass many different skill sets. A traditional fine arts degree is typically specialized in a specific medium, such as painting, sculpture, film, photography, metalworking or multimedia. An arts degree can often lead to a career in art direction, animation or multimedia, craft artistry, fine artistry or teaching. A liberal arts degree, which may focus on English, history, philosophy or other humanities subjects, offers a range of career prospects, including education, journalism, law and politics. Although a general liberal arts degree may be more widely applicable, the degree is not particularly known for its career prospects.

Degrees in the arts are typically not the top choice for most employers. A 2014 Forbes article reported that in a survey of hiring managers, fewer than 2 percent reported that they were actively seeking graduates with arts degrees. The survey reported that employers’ top choices for degrees included mechanical engineering, math, computer information systems, business and nursing. Another survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that accounting and economics ranked as some of the most desirable degrees.

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