Are you thinking of studying an arts degree? If so, you’re probably used to this conversation at parties:
You: “I’m applying for uni”
Person: “What are you thinking of studying?”
You: “Fine Arts” (or Communications, or Art History, etc. etc. etc.)
Person: “Oh… What job will that get you?”
The value of an arts degree might not be immediately obvious. When it comes to carving a career path, people think about qualifications as a way to enter a specific vocation. So you study medicine, you become a doctor, study dentistry, you become a dentist, get an engineering degree and become an engineer. But what do you become when you graduate from an arts degree?
The truth is that arts degrees help you develop skills, not job titles. Let’s look at how arts degrees can work for graduates.
Arts qualifications: hot or not?
Did you read the piece in Forbes about how ‘useless’ Liberal Arts Degrees were becoming Tech’s hottest ticket?
Anna Pickard, the Editorial Director for start-up Slack and author of one of the most appealing LinkedIn bios of all time, was one of the examples given. Pickard has done everything from running a marketing campaign through a twitter account written in the voice of a megalomaniac cat to blogging for the Guardian. Her degree is in dramaturgy – basically, composition in theatre arts.
Despite how it was framed on Forbes, her success is not evidence that meandering through an arts degree with no direction will land you sweet jobs because of a quirk in a particular industry.
Rather, her career is an example of how arts degrees may not reveal a simple path from degree to job title, but they can help you to develop your talents into skills that lead to interesting, out of the box work.
Making it work
Arts qualifications of all kinds foster the development of skills like communication, writing, research, problem solving, and project management.But in addition, qualifications in the arts can do something more – they can open up a new world to you.
Charles Desmarais, formerly at the San Francisco Art Institute and current art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted this about his degree:
Blue collar family. Barely literate dad. Yet I’ve had a 30+ year career as museum director and college president. #ArtDegreesWork
— Charles Desmarais (@SFAIprez) January 31, 2014
It is possible to make your way in a career without developing the foundation you will find in tertiary education. However, this is harder when you don’t have a network of people around you, be it family or friends, who have pursued similar paths. If you’re the first person in your family to go to uni and you want to write, or make art or film, an arts qualification can work for you by introducing you to people who have those careers or who want to pursue them in the future.
Curious to find out more? Find out what’s on offer with a Bachelor of Arts at La Trobe.