In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure

from NYTs

For students chasing lasting wealth, the best choice of a college major is less obvious than you might think.

The conventional wisdom is that computer science and engineering majors have better employment prospects and higher earnings than their peers who choose liberal arts.

This is true for the first job, but the long-term story is more complicated.

The advantage for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors fades steadily after their first jobs, and by age 40 the earnings of people who majored in fields like social science or history have caught up.

This happens for two reasons. First, many of the latest technical skills that are in high demand today become obsolete when technology progresses. Older workers must learn these new skills on the fly, while younger workers may have learned them in school. Skill obsolescence and increased competition from younger graduates work together to lower the earnings advantage for STEM degree-holders as they age.

Second, although liberal arts majors start slow, they gradually catch up to their peers in STEM fields. This is by design. A liberal arts education fosters valuable “soft skills” like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability. Such skills are hard to quantify, and they don’t create clean pathways to high-paying first jobs. But they have long-run value in a wide variety of careers.

More here.

Posted in Careers, Education and tagged , , , .


  1. This article seems like it is giving STEM-focused majors/ careers a negative outlook simply because of the salary depreciation over the years. On the other hand, it can also be swayed that the article gives a bad name for liberal arts majors concluding that the salary expectancy is not as high as STEM majors when it comes to the first job. After reading this article, I continued to read the comment section and many people seemed to be unhappy with the way this article was written. Some people did not like the fact that the article basically stated that STEM majors are not as well rounded as liberal arts majors. Others disagreed with the fact that the article failed to include the stats about students who attended grad school which would skew the data about liberal arts salaries. In the end, everyone will have different opinions. The one thing that for the most part remains constant is that this world is all about money. Which career path will earn me the most money in the quickest amount of time? Based on this article, it would appear that STEM majors would make more money at a quicker rate, but eventually plateau over the years. According to this article, liberal arts careers build up their salaries over time and eventually catch up to the STEM majors. Is this due to changing technology? Is it because most liberal arts majors attend grad school and STEM majors do not necessarily need to? Is it because liberal arts majors are more well-rounded than STEM majors? All of these questions seem to be inconclusive, at least for this article. At the end of this article, the author stated, “But I do think we should be wary of the impulse to make college curriculums ever more technical and career-focused.” This statement appears to become conflicting for me to choose if I agree with the author or not. On one hand, the author has a point in that everyone should achieve the same basic and well-rounded education because those simple communication and problem-solving traits never change in the workforce no matter what career one chooses. On the other hand, I feel as though it would be beneficial to make undergraduate degrees in college more career-focused so that students can achieve as much education about their future careers as possible and not have to go on into more debt going to graduate school. As a sophomore in college, I feel as though I am wasting my time taking classes that seem completely unrelated to my major. I have not even taken a single class remotely related to my major. I also know that these unrelated classes are actually helping me to become a more well-rounded applicant for future careers. In the end, the salary race should not be the focus on what educational or career path one chooses. The focus should be on the student choosing whatever major fits their capabilities and excel at, whether it be a STEM focus or liberal arts focus.

  2. I think this article is important for all college students, and even high schoolers who are still unsure of what they want to do in the future. I know when I was applying to colleges and thinking about the future everyone was going into STEM related fields, and following that trend was something I debated in the beginning but I realized how difficult and competitive STEM related fields are, how much schooling is required, and it’s not something I am overly interested in. After my freshman year I saw a tremendous amount of people STEM majors dropping their program simply because of the workload and the difficulty to find a job in the future because there are so many people in the field. However, I do think that this article does talk about STEM related careers in a negative way. Even at the end of the article when the author claims, “I am not suggesting that students should avoid majoring in STEM fields”, but that is essentially the argument throughout the entire article. STEM majors are extremely hard working and a majority of people in the field are doing it because they want to achieve their dream job, not because of the monetary benefits associated with it. Although, this article is more focused on the monetary benefits of specific jobs, and not what one would truly enjoy doing for the rest of their life. I personally do not want to study and take classes that I am not interested in to get a job in the future that I will not enjoy going to everyday. I did find this article interesting because I did not think that Liberal Arts majors such as English majors would in the long run make more money than engineers or even doctors. It does make sense however, that in STEM related fields that there is always more to learn, no matter what your chosen major is. I know of several adults who are in the medical field who go back to school in their adult years just to get another degree and get a better job that pays better.

  3. The common problem that faces many college students is the difficulty of balancing money with personal satisfaction. A person may love music and want to study music in school, but is having a lone major in music a wise choice? When a music major graduates with thousands in debt, will they be able to pay this off and then afford other things like a house and a car? For some people the answer is certainly yes, and for others the answer is no. So, as it seems, many liberal arts majors are stereotyped for not guaranteeing employment options. For those that do get employed, the stereotype is that they do not make a lot of money.

    It is a sad fact that this stereotype has turned people away from doing what they love in pursuit of money. Money is certainly important, but if you land a job that pays well and you hate it, chances are you will be miserable. On the other hand, someone who makes less and works more but enjoys what they do is considerably more likely to be happy with how they are.

    That’s not to say a person should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a completely useless degree (because some are undeniably useless) because it’s what they “like” – but it is to say that both happiness and financial opportunity should be considered when choosing a major.

    There is a prevailing opinion that anything that is not STEM is a waste of time, and this article stands against view. Looking at the earnings out of college, STEM majors do in fact make more, but down the line it gets a little more complicated. The takeaway of course is that the liberal arts majors, according to the data, overtake the exalted STEM majors in various ways down the line.

    The liberal arts major may struggle to find his footing, but down the line the hard work that is put in both in school and on the job seems very likely to pay off, while the STEM major struggles to keep up with the constantly evolving technology that nullifies many of the skills they are taught in school, to the detriment of their salary.

    A STEM major who truly loves what he does may be better equipped to adapt to these changes than someone who is only in the field to make money, and is thus probably miserable already.

    The general skills taught in a liberal arts program, however, will grow and improve over time through their application in real world situations, which explains why their salaries increase after many years in the workforce.

  4. I found this article rather insightful on the balance between long-term monetary value and education in relation to your choice of major. What stuck me first was the statement postulating that liberal arts majors usually close the pay-gap from STEM majors in the long-run. Having been raised in an African home where the stereotype of the four-major-requirement (majors in either engineering, medicine, law or computer science) looms a concrete reality, it was apparent to me that there was a significant gap in the standard of living for these STEM majors compared to pursuits in liberal arts. I was raised fully aware of the fact that in this world governed by laminated green paper, developing a passion in mathematics and science would be the equivalent of programming a cheat code I’d need to defeat the boss of the game – life. However, because of this mental framework I have been deeply disturbed by the need for liberal arts requirements and majors – even at one point restraining myself from announcing the fact that we actually have the unlimited choice to determine our pay grade from the concentration we pursue now, because I saw little value in spending four years on a Visual Arts degree with poor prospects for income and employment. Reading the New York Times article has never been more timely. I am intrigued and find truth in the argument that STEM majors also have their shortcomings. In 2009, the competitive technical and quantitative skills, such as basic Excel and Microsoft Word proficiency, is not what employers on JSON, Python, R and MatLab searchlists are looking for today. But meetings still need to be held, papers and records must be sorted, leaders must arise, and the wave of diversity and inclusion intertwining our practices must be matched with liberal arts majors trained in durable social skills. The 45% retention rate for many STEM majors who pursue STEM-related jobs spelled out how essential administrative roles are to securing a stable quality of living. But it also made a gripping rebuttal to several opponents to the benefits of the liberal arts major, like myself, who fell short of the understanding that our education is a privilege to a vast wealth of knowledge and disciplines in writing, public speaking, teamworking, self-identification and critical thinking that draw from liberal arts subjects and translate into life skills admired and recognized by employers years from now. It is true that a four-year college degree should prepare students for the next 40 years of working life, and for a future that none of us can imagine. The growth rate for STEM majors in the near future would have to make case for its applicant requirement volatility.

  5. I think it is important to note that the studies in this article are more relevant to college graduates of the past than it may be to us today. For example, the article states that STEM graduates in their 40’s have an average salary of about $125,000 a year. These people would have graduated from college in the 80’s. This information can maybe be used to try to make predictions of what will be valuable in our world in the coming decades but it is important to realize they are only predictions. I also think that today many STEM fields are very reluctant to hire older people and that may be one reason for the dip in average salary. But while a STEM education obtained in the 80’s may not be as valuable now, who is to say that the STEM fields studied today will not be more enduring in the years to come. I also do not believe that the study said if it did or did not take inflation into account when calculating these salaries over time. For this reason, and for investing purposes, money gained early in ones career is much more valuable than money gained later on.
    What this does emphasize is the need to be well rounded. Whatever you study, no one knows for sure what shape the world and your career path will take in the future. It is important that even if we specialize in a certain field, we also learn the “soft skills” described in the article that should be useful no matter what the future holds.
    I personally am studying economics like the writer of this article. With so many fields being constantly disrupted in the world today I have found many of my liberal arts courses in ethics or philosophy to be what I feel have given me the most personal growth that will help me in my career when I graduate.

  6. This article and idea bothers me immensely. In every single college education in the modern day, students in any field develop soft skills as well as skills pertaining to their major. If not, that is a major personal issue and has nothing to do with their major. STEM majors and liberal arts majors are able to grow and develop any of these skills if they are dedicated to growing as a person and a professional.
    The idea that a person’s major determines their success in life is insolent.
    Of course, there are more profitable majors on average, but even someone in the highest paid major could have none of the skills to advance and grow as a professional in their field. At the same time, someone in a lower paying major on average could also not have the skills to advance or grow either. Someone in a lower paying major could have excellent skills to advance or grow professionally that leads them to earn higher salaries than the average. Some of these skills cannot be learnt or taught, rather they have to come naturally to a person. Of course there is always some room for improvement in interpersonal communication skills, but that type of improvement has to come from a dedication within. These skills cannot be taught through Oral Communication classes and other classes with the same goals.
    Students should major in what they want to do; knowing the risks and possible salaries is a part of making that conscious choice. There needs to be personal responsibility in both the choice of major and in the choice to improve as a professional. No amount of classes or soft skills teaching can change a person’s inherent personality and people skills without an internal motivation. With that, no major can determine the success of a person. A person in any major has the potential to succeed financially if they are dedicated to providing themselves with a financially sound future and have the skills to get them there. Whether someone decided to major in STEM, Business, Liberal Arts, or something else, there is potential there to succeed if that person decides that they want to do so.

  7. I think this article raises a very important issue with the rising need for young adults to go to college. At this point, college is like a necessity rather than an option. People often feel as though if they don’t go to college then they will be perceived as unintelligent and unmotivated. What this results in is students forcing themselves to go through college, often pushing themselves harder than they need to to prove that they are good enough to be there. What we find is quite an unfortunate and ironic result. You get graduates who, in the end, are just not that motivated to continue working hard. They see college as the test to get a job to get money. Once the graduate, they just have to continue to reproduce what they learned everyday from the hours of 9 am to 5 pm. However, like Demming states, in most jobs, you have to continue keeping up with the times. My father has been a computer programmer since computers were gigantic screens that covered an entire 2-story wall and only showed that typical “hacker code” you see in movies. Over the years since then, he has worked to constantly keep up with the new tech. In fact, we have a whole bookshelf full of different programming techniques. That being said, despite having started working in the late 80s and never receiving a college degree, my father is still one of the most competitive people in his field. He is often teaching his bosses and younger co-workers how to properly use the newest technology. The difference between college graduates and my father is that my father worked hard to even get here. He was born and raised in England to a lower middle class family. He made a decision in his mid-twenties to move to America. In the mid-80s computer programming was not a field that paid very much in the UK. He left everything he knew to move to a country he had never seen before just to get a job. He still has no problem, despite not having a college degree. On the other hand, college graduates today do not see much reason to continue to be competitive. Many do, and many keep their heads in the books to keep up, but the unfortunate fact is that most people won’t get or keep a job in their major.
    There is a reason as to why this happens: college is not for everyone. Like I said before, college is seen as a necessity to prove that you are smart enough. While many people should go to college to achieve what they want out of life, many shouldn’t. The world is very money obsessed. Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses. However, going to trade school to be a plumber doesn’t seem like a “keeping up with the Joneses” type of job.What happens is people put themselves through a lot of debt general money loss, and wasted time over a degree they’re not interested in enough to continue working for. The reality is, however, that rates on plumbing and other trade jobs are rising as the need for people working in these fields is skyrocketing. People who take these jobs are not “stupider” than their college graduate peers, and that should not be the basis of why someone goes to college. Rather than purely being about doing what will make you happy, being a college graduate has become an arbitrary social status that will get you money. What we need to do is change our thinking. Once people begin to realize that college is simply an option among a sea of options, we will see a rise in rates of highly motivated people among all careers.

  8. Ever since I started my college selection process and eventually choosing Seton Hall, I was always coached to go into business because that is where the money is. I was never even given the option not to go to college, it was always assumed of me to go to college because I was one of the few people from my town with a head on their shoulders from my small country town. Not to be mistaken, I love Finance and I.T. and want a future in this field, but this article shows that “the money” can be made anywhere. The major chosen by a clueless 17-year-old does not determine their future in the slightest. Obviously, most students like myself are looking for an impressive starting salary because we want to live on our own, and it can only go up from there, is the assumption. This article rarely mentions Business majors in their comparison, but it mentions that the salaries are highest in midcareer occupations. To be completely honest, I was confused as to how someone who studies History or Political Science can not only catch up, but earn more than a STEM major who can make upwards of $70k straight out of college. I quickly understood that the STEM field is constantly changing, and there is always new information on the most efficient way to complete a certain task in this field. It is harder for someone in their mid-40s to understand the concepts that a 25-year-old learned in college three years prior. After understanding this concept, I had to wonder how those who work in Business and Liberal Arts are able to catch up to the youth in their respective fields. The concepts in a traditional liberal arts education, don’t go bad essentially. Soft skills, such as; philosophy, public speaking, verbal communication, all have little relevance in modern education and are extremely desired by employers. In an attempt to relate this to my personal life, I realized that my education is not only focused on Business concepts, but around personal skills. I have already taken a Public Speaking Course, English, Journey of Transformation, which all have little to do with Finance, but very much to do with understanding the personal self and developing these well-rounded soft skills, which many employers that are looking for. This article is a wake-up call for me, I should take more initiative in learning more about myself rather than learning strictly concepts and adding more to my resume. The focus of a college education should not only be the concepts, but development of your personal understanding and where your capabilities can excel.

  9. While this is an interesting article I do think the title is misleading. The data used is for “social sciences”, which the article points out includes economics and political science. This is far shot from just “English Majors”. The article dose correctly identify that many of these degrees qualify people for roles in management, but I think that really does go towards the economics or political science part. I don’t feel this article does a good job of actually convincing me English Major might be worth more than a STEM degree. Another issue is that the difference in salary between social science majors and stem majors, (40yrs old), is not that significant. ($131,154 for SS, $124,458 for STEM). The difference between starting salaries is more significant ($61,744 for STEM, $45,032 for SS) with that extra 15k being of a bigger impact as it will likely be going towards paying off college debt (something you want payed off quickly). If anything I think that this article, with the facts and stats it brought forward, made me think going into STEM is even a better idea than I had thought previously.

  10. I think this article had a poor ending as to what the author was trying to accomplish in the text. He starts off by talking about trying to show kids their choices for college I terms of the money they will be making in certain fields. He then ends it without wrapping up what he originally stated by saying that colleges need to be less technically focused on specific fields and be broader which does not coincide with the rest of the article. This was very confusing since the article was about the monetary value a person will receive out of two different fields. That part was very enlightening to me specifically in talking about STEM fields versus careers in liberal arts majors which is a wide variety. I am going into the management field of business and this article directly speaks of it in the comparison. I was always under the impression of the fact that STEM majors made more money because of the ever-growing world. Skills that can advance our technology and understanding of the world are highly sought after because there is a never ending expansion. It also because of that never ending expansion that gives the major that I am going to be in the chance to catch up with their pay as the article claims. STEM majors must constantly learn new theories that my major does not require as heavily as STEM. Things that were groundbreaking 10 years ago are obsolete today in STEM where the same basic theories of business and other liberal arts degrees hardly change. Things like economics, accounting, and finance are areas that don’t change and the pay increases over the years to meet the same as the STEM majors who must work harder than liberal arts majors to not be overtaken in their career by a younger person that knows the current practices. This gives me a lot of hope for the future and more of a solid foundation to my want to study and get the degree in the field of business. Business is also the area that brings up the average of the liberal arts group according to the article which is also never bad for me.

  11. Since I started looking at college and what I wanted to study, I have thought of STEM fields as being one of the best areas to go into because it is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, but this article brings new perspective that this ideology is the exact reason STEM may not be the best field in the long run. High schools today are constantly trying to interest kids into the STEM area since it such a fast growing needed field; however, the field does not lead to long lasting benefits. The article cites one of the reasons STEM does not create much growth in the future of the career is skill turnover being higher than in other fields. Many of the skills learned for these jobs change in a few years and become irrelevant in a few ten years or so.
    Additionally, it has been seen that right out of college STEM majors tend to earn about 50% more than liberal art majors, but after about 15 years the STEM majors are only earning 10% more than liberal art majors. The reason for this is because there are more opportunities for advancement and growth for liberal art majors because there are a wide variety of fields they could go into.
    I think this article brings up an interesting point that I think people neglect to consider because STEM is so popular today which is that liberal arts fields teach skills that can be transferred to many roles such as critical thinking. I think this article shows that it is important for colleges to have requirements for all studies that include liberal arts classes because it is important to be a well rounded person who can work in many different environments. This is important so that if the particular skill you do or technology used becomes not useful anymore you still are able to bring value to a company in different aspects. It should not matter what type of job someone has; there are certain skills that make a person marketable and a good employer.
    This article made me rethink how I thought about different majors, and also how one should consider what major to get into or classes to take. I think it is important to learn applicable skills like ones learned liberal art classes because they are very transferable. I also think that it is important to consider the far future. I think a lot of times people just think about the near future of right after school, but as this article mentioned the four years of school have to prepare you for around 40 years of work which I think is not always considered.

  12. The points brought up in this article are thoughts that I feel all young adults and students should be aware of. It is often seen that many students choose a career based on the starting salary after college graduation. While, yes, money is an important factor in life as you need it to survive, it should not be the determining factor of anyone’s career. In order to create a productive economy, it is crucial that all workers are both good at their job and happy with their career path. Parents and guardians should also be educated on the points made in this article. Many times, students are also steered away from certain career paths, such as those pertaining to education and liberal arts, because parents and family members do not think they can be successful enough in those fields. However, if a person has a strong enough passion and skillset, they can be successful in any career they choose. While it might take a few more years to find a great job, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. The same idea pertains to students who do not wish to go to college. It is common that parents force their children to get a college education because they do not think their children will be successful without one. This idea is actually far from the truth. Many people form very successful careers without having anything besides a college diploma. Trade school is also something that is commonly overlooked. Those who do not generally excel academically should be encouraged to pursue a trade school instead of a college or university. This type of education may be more suited to their interests, allowing them to be more successful not only in their education but also in their careers.
    While this article makes important notes about “lesser” majors not being discouraged because of starting salaries, it is also putting down those majors with high starting salaries. As mentioned by Emily in her comment, this article is giving a negative outlook to STEM career paths. The article would be better written if the author supported all career paths regardless of salary expectations. In supporting one career option, it is not right to put down another. The author also mentioned that by being in the technology industry many older workers knowledge becomes obsolete as times change. Making this statement presents quite a negative perspective of STEM education, which is not something that should be done. In order to maintain a healthy economy, all career choices should be available and supported equally.

  13. The main reason I clicked on this article was because of the two majors it had in the title. My middle sister is in her freshman year of college working on her mechanical engineering degree. My youngest sister, who still has two years left of high school, wants to be an English major so she can write books when she gets older, which is something she currently loves doing now. My dad always tried to tell us to pick a major that will make us marketable and not something like political science which doesn’t offer many skills outside of the subject. He, and the guidance counselors at our high school, really pushed for us to go into the STEM field and do something in the sciences because that’s where the money and the jobs are. As someone who is absolutely awful at all things math and science, I knew this was never a possibility for me.
    Freshman year of college, and then again when I transferred after my sophomore year, I was ready to be a marketing major. I figured it was marketable and it could get me a good paying job when I graduated. But the problem was that marketing was something I was doing only for the small benefits in the future and definitely not something I loved or enjoyed learning about. I decided to pursue something I was actually interested in and loved learning about and became a political science major. Even though I’m seeing some of those disadvantages to not being a STEM or business major now, at least I spent four years learning about something I cared about and not something that makes me marketable. I don’t think it’s fair to keep reminding students of how much STEM people will make compared to all other majors. Students should be able to follow the kind of education they want without having to worry about their future paycheck. I don’t think it’s fair to put this kind of pressure on a kid to study a certain major due to the benefits in the future. I can easily say that I would have been miserable if I had to be a marketing major like I planned on being and I would have grown to hate the subject due to not caring about it originally. I think it’s important that students are able to study what they are passionate about without having to worry about the future.

  14. Think about it, doesn’t it seem risky to only be fit to do work in one field? For example, going to a university for a degree in mathematics and strictly taking classes all 4 years that only involve STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Unfortunately, this is oftentimes how universities that are not liberal arts, which specialize in these fields of study work; it is also all work, no play. In comparison, liberal arts schools teach their students the essential “soft skills”, meaning problem solving, adaptability, and critical thinking. These skills can be applied to various professions, making the liberal arts graduate a more well-rounded individual through not boxing them into one skillset for their entire life. Moreover, I have heard that liberal arts colleges offer students more freedom with their time rather than packing on a heavy workload 24/7. This freedom allows students time to study things other than the books. For example, they may study themselves, the social aspect of life, and what they like vs. dislike.
    The article “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure” personally, makes a lot of sense to me because I have now attended three universities throughout my college career. I started my college career at Marist College, a liberal arts school where I studied fashion merchandising. I took various non-fashion courses such as philosophy, statistics, theatre, and more; all the while, the work was not overwhelming to the point of having no social life. Hence, as I was acquiring knowledge on various real-world subjects, I was also studying people and social interactions- this allowed me to discover what I like and dislike in that sense. Ultimately, I ended up disliking Marist College, however, it did teach me a lot of valuable lessons. In my post-Marist life I decided to take some time off from living at a university, and I began to travel and take liberal arts courses at my local county college for a year. This was one of the greatest years of my life in terms of self-discovery. I learned that I am a homebody, meaning that I love to expand my knowledge of the outside world, but at the end of the day I want my base to be at home with the people I am comfortable with. With this knowledge I decided to transfer to Seton Hall University to obtain my liberal arts undergraduate degree; this school has turned out to be the place I have thrived most in life. One thing has been constant throughout my college experience, and that is studying at liberal arts universities which have all allowed me to explore myself and the various fields of study I can ultimately delve into. I went from being a fashion major to communications, to marketing; all the while I was studying my own self-discovery with what makes me happy as a person. I do not think that a STEM school would allow me to have this opportunity due to the overbearing workload, being surrounded by less diverse minds, and being trapped in one field of study. Moreover, with a liberal arts education I now have the skillsets to adapt to various job types and switch my career as time progresses.

  15. The article, “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure”, written by David Deming, raises awareness to the importance of the long-term value of a college degree. When students are initially choosing their major for a four-year college, they are attracted to choosing a major that will visibly make them the most money. The author claims that it is a deception that those who major in the STEM field are the most successful income wise. With the rapid change of the times, it is shown that liberal arts degrees are becoming just as financially respected as a STEM field degree. When people choose to obtain a degree in the liberal arts field, it is typically frowned upon. The term “liberal arts” has always had a negative connotation around it. The social stigma is that those who major in liberal arts do not make money and are unable to obtain a full-time job after graduation. The degree is said to be visibly useless because if you’re not making big money up front, then what’s the point of investing in an education? On the other hand, it is a popular belief that students who decide to embark down the science, technology, engineering and mathematics degree pathway are the ones who will succeed both career and salary wise. The New York Times article suggests that a liberal arts degree holds as much value as a STEM degree because of the underlying skills that are taught to those who major in the liberal arts field.

    There is no way to predict what is going to happen in the future in a workplace, so to ensure success it is important to keep up with the constant changes that are happening in that field. This is essential for those in the STEM career paths, as the “skill obsolescence and increased competition for younger graduates work together to lower the earnings advantage for STEM degree-holders as they age” (Deming). I would have to disagree with this because no matter what industry you are working in, you’re going to have to constantly keep up with the changes that are being discovered or made. The STEM field is not the only field where they have to be aware of the constant progression of their fields; Both English and History (and other liberal arts fields) have newfound additions or modifications that are needed to be instilled to the degree-holders knowledge. For example, yes, history is what has happened in the past. It is thought that you can’t change history because it has already happened. But as technology and knowledge advances, there are new discoveries that are impacting history. Just in 2018, archeologists discovered a human jawbone in Israel, “suggesting modern humans may have migrated out of Africa far earlier than once thought” (Pruitt). This seemingly small discovery has become the basis of the new theory of the migration of humans! There is an enormous amount of undiscovered history that will eventually be discovered. History majors have to keep up with small facts like this. I believe that no matter what your degree is in, it is important to keep up with the changes and news that are happening in that industry.

    The article points out that although STEM degree-holders make a higher starting salary than liberal arts degree-holders, they eventually are both earning the same salary. Just as keeping up with the changes is important for degree-holders in their industry, experience is just as important. STEM majors start off with a high salary, some “an average of $61,744” (Deming). Liberal arts majors can have an “average starting salary of $45,032” (Deming). These differences in salaries are due to how much each industry respectfully makes. STEM majors can work in billion-dollar industries like pharmaceutical and healthcare. Meanwhile, liberal arts majors have the ability to work in places like “libraries, museums, non-profit organizations and social service departments” (Writers). The industries that are available to liberal arts degree-holders are not as big of a money maker as the ones that are available to STEM degree-holders. Overtime with raises and experience, liberal art degree-holders have the opportunity to earn just around as much as a STEM degree-holder. But the article doesn’t point out that it takes YEARS for the liberal arts degree-holders to start earning the kind of money that STEM degree-holders earn. It could be as little as 5 years for engineers to start earning six figures. It doesn’t look like liberal arts majors have the potential to earn six figures until they’re at least 20 years into their career. The article misleads the reader because it doesn’t provide you the full picture of what goes into the decision of the salaries based on their job field.

    The article makes it a point to say that liberal arts degree earners learn critical thinking skills that are essential for their success in the long run. If it isn’t obvious, the requirements for a STEM degree and a Liberal Arts degree are vastly different. A science major is not going to take as many classes on literature as an English major, and vice-versa. The article states that “a liberal arts education fosters valuable “soft skills” like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability” (Deming). I do agree with the author that those who major in liberal arts are able to develop these skills they can use in their career, but I would also add that STEM majors develop these skills as well. If an engineer doesn’t display critical thinking or problem-solving in their workplace, then that is a whole different issue. Just because a person has a degree in the STEM field doesn’t mean that they aren’t pursuing a career path that doesn’t employ one of the listed soft skills.

    While reading in the blog comments, I really liked Alyssa’s point about how her first-hand experience with studying in the liberal arts field was the basis of her discovery to what she wanted to do career wise. To add, I had a friend at my community college that I had met in an accounting course. She had originally decided to major in business because she had always been told that’s where the success and the money is. But as it turns out, the business courses she was taking were the ones that she had struggled with the most. She didn’t know what she wanted to do now because she had always thought that she should be a business major. Ultimately, she decided to become a liberal art major that way she could sample all of the courses to find out what she really wanted to do, while still being enrolled in classes and working towards a degree. The liberal arts path is a great way for students to gather a variety of different perspectives that each class can bring.

    The author ends the article with saying that “a four-year college should prepare students for the nest 40 years of working life, and for a future that none of us can imagine” (Deming). I whole heartedly agree with the author when he makes this statement. It is important for students to personally develop through their education, not just get a degree to get a degree. College is a place where new skills should be learned so that they can be enforced in the workplace. Skills like problem-solving and working with a team are vital skills to harbor in order for one to succeed in their chosen career. There is no way to predict the future but keeping up with the constant changes that are being made, whether it is in life or a career, is important to be successful.

    Deming, David. “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Sept. 2019,

    Pruitt, Sarah. “The Most Amazing Historical Discoveries of 2018.”, A&E Television Networks, 7 Dec. 2018,

    Writers, Staff. “What Is a Liberal Arts Degree?”,, 1 July 2019,

  16. Trends like these speak to the advancement of society. Seeing as technology is always in a state of advancement, the skills useful now will continually need to be refreshed. As Professor Shannon says in class, the skills we have now have a life expectancy of about six years. The same cannot be said about liberal arts majors, such as English. There are certain absolutes when it comes to English that has allowed it to transcend generations with the same material being the topic of study. If anything, these English majors can endure the future because of the past that is left for them. Whereas STEM majors must constantly be improving their craft, which has the potential to stagnate. STEM majors are not able to rely on the past as a template to further their career which is why STEM majors and liberal arts majors end up intersecting, in terms of success, later down the road. As referenced on another blog post, “Jobs Will Be Very Different in 10 Years”, older workers come at odds with an advancing work dynamic. The skills required need to be refreshed so often that the stability of these professions is so volatile. If those STEM majors cannot keep up with the changing times, then they will be left behind and left without a job. In this same manner, it will almost always be appealing to younger audiences. Because tech jobs and STEM jobs are always advancing, job outlook will always turn heads in the direction of this field. However, the people applying for these jobs may fall under the same trope of their job tanking. There also arises the issue of making technology focused efforts towards a university. By having this area essentially advertised it coaxes new students to pursue these types of jobs. However, we should be careful of doing this, as the article mentions. By being career focused, it leads students towards this field because it gives the biggest reward the quickest, but at that point it falters if their earnings just stagnate. Instead, universities should push for long lasting careers that will serve them well and have the potential to ever increase.

  17. I found this article interesting because the author took on a perspective you don’t typically hear. The most student in today’s society is pushed into STEM majors and careers with the intent to make money. A harsh reality is that most college-aged kids are no longer concerned with loving what they do, they want to know how much money they will make. The article states that even though initially STEM majors make more money English and liberal arts majors “gradually catch up to their peers in STEM fields. This is by design. A liberal arts education fosters valuable “soft skills” like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability.” This leads liberal arts majors to be more fertile and give them the ability to working various jobs throughout there careers. Another interesting note was that STEM majors are increasingly pushed out of their field by advancing technology. Whether artificial intelligence is taking over stem jobs or STEM workings cannot keep up with the latest software, it is clear that it is difficult to stay in the STEM field for the duration of one’s career.

    Liberal arts and English majors on the other hand gradually increase their work overtime and thus increase their salaries. In a world where technology is limitless, there is still a basic need for liberal arts majors to focus on history, morals, and humanity. Many students who seek STEM degrees drop out of programs because they are too rigorous or students realize it is not something they enjoy doing. On the other hand with liberal arts and English majors students are often more passionate and engaged in the material they study. The same can be said or workers in their respective fields. Many STEM employees burn out from the sheer amount of work, long hours, and difficult requirements. These attributes are not as tiring when you are doing something you love. Liberal arts majors are able to work at their own pace and hone in their skills over time. The workload is not necessarily easier but the time old saying of “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” rings true in this scenario. The article is not questioning which major is better, it is simply trying to shed light on current social biases. People who believe the only way to make money is in STEM fields should read the article and gain some insight into the long term gains of working in a liberal art field.

  18. In a word where school systems have such an emphasis on STEM field, it is refreshing to see the liberal arts are, for once, valued on a bigger scale. As a student that excelled in English as well as majority of my liberal arts courses, I absolutely agree with Deming in his argument that liberal arts endures/lasts longer. The way I look at it the people who pursue English or Philosophy or anything having to do with the Social Sciences tend to have a passion for their work. Not saying that STEM majors don’t have a passion for their work, but most cases those who proceed anything with STEM are “in it for the money.” Which brings me to my next point, success. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to anything STEM is it always gives people the impression of instant money. Law and STEM are seen as the only fields that one can truly be successful in, which is not true at all! Yes, do doctors and lawyers make a significant amount of money? Of course but that success comes at a price especially in STEM. As Demings mentioned in his article, those who purse STEM are always learning so that means you hardly get a break. In my point of view, students should not base their major on “what can make me the richest” but instead think “what will make me the happiest.” Now, if one is fortunate enough to find a career that makes them happy and gets them rich then I salute you!

    To get more specific into the logistics of STEM, I feel as if the programs should require the students to take more liberal arts courses. In the articles it is mentioned how liberal arts majors are able to master the skills of critical thinking and tend to look at situations with more depth while STEM majors tend to lack these skills. It is because STEM majors do n to master these skills, it is harder form them to learn/analyze new problems on the fly. I just think that the liberal arts is crucial to any field a person goes in because it provides amazing life skills as well as expanding ones mind.

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