A few months ago, I was in an interesting conversation with my friend about how much we make as academics. We both have our own professional spheres that include teaching, research, and other contributions to academia.
He asked me what his salary was like compared to mine and then told me that he makes more than me! At first I was confused because I know exactly what his pay is like and what mine is, but it still surprised him when I mentioned it.
It took me a minute to process what he said next. He thought that professors made less money than people with higher education degrees who are not academic professionals.
He assumed that only those students who major in humanities or social sciences can be non-professionals, so they must make more money due to having a degree.
I actually laughed at this assumption and truthfully, it hurt my feelings.
In fact, there are many different types of career paths within academia which do not require a bachelor’s degree. For example, administrators, librarians, and technology specialists typically don’t need a college degree to work in their field.
Don’t assume that just because someone does not have a university diploma after their name means that they make a lower income than you.
Second, it depends on the professor
As mentioned before, what one person’s salary range is dependent upon their level of education and position can vary very much. For example, someone with an advanced degree like mine could make far more than someone who does not have as many credentials.
My personal pay range is really dependant on how I perform during the semester, so my income fluctuates widely. My highest paid week was when I hosted a speaking event, and then the next was when I gave a keynote address at a professional conference.
Overall, though, my average weekly wage is in the low five-thousand dollar range which isn’t bad for a thirty something mother of two. What I will tell you is that being able to afford childcare makes a big difference in your daily life, especially since we live in a society where children are increasingly left alone while parents work outside the home.
Third, it depends on the field
There are many ways to classify an academic position. What body of knowledge or area of study you teach in is one such way to categorize positions. For example, professors that teach English literature can make much more than someone who teaches business literacy or higher education leadership.
English literature teachers typically have undergraduate degrees in art, communication, humanities, linguistics, or theater so they must be trained in literary studies like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and rhetoric. Then, they require additional training in teaching English as a second language (ESL) and/or educational technology.
These other fields’ salary averages depend on what degree programs those schools offer them. Some universities don’t even include speciality pay raises for instructors outside of their field!
Overall, though, English department faculty members earn about $70k per year on average which isn’t too bad. But remember, this doesn’t factor in benefits like health insurance or retirement accounts.
Fourth, they get paid more
A liberal arts education is not cheap. Tuition has continually risen for most universities, making it increasingly difficult to afford an undergraduate degree as well as living expenses. While some industries require only a bachelor’s or master’s degree, many positions require at least a professional degree (e.g., doctor, lawyer). Others require a advanced degree like a MBA or MA.
Accordingly, employers are willing to pay higher salaries than ever before for people with these degrees. For example, research conducted by The Princeton Review found that workers with masters degrees earn an average of $1,000 per hour greater than those without ones. This adds up quickly!
There are lots of ways to teach yourself about art and humanities, but none compare to spending time studying them in person. By engaging in this educational process, you will expand your knowledge and understanding of the field. Plus, there are plenty of free resources available online and through your local library.
Fifth, they can choose their students
As mentioned earlier, liberal arts professors are not required to have any specific degree or teaching certification. This means that it is possible to be an adjunct professor without having a bachelor’s degree or advanced certifications such as master’s degrees in education or teaching.
It is very common for people who want career change to become an adjunct professor. Many experienced professionals look at being an adjunct professor as a way to make additional money while also exploring new career paths.
Because adjunct professors do not need a formal education beyond his or her undergraduate degree, most don’t require much of a salary. Some make enough to survive however, and some even earn significant amounts of income.
Sixth, they get to read more
A liberal arts education is not limited to studying literature, art, music, or any of these specific disciplines. These are all branches in humanities, but you will learn about many other things from them as well. For example, some degree programs offer classes in sociology, psychology, economics, political science, philosophy, religion, and more.
Many universities have departments that focus only on one major area like communication studies, anthropology, history, etc. There may be no crossover between those areas, but your overall educational experience would cover it very well.
These outside fields help you develop skills in reading, writing, reasoning, and thinking beyond just what’s related to a particular field. All of these qualities can be applied in various ways — professionally, socially, and personally.
Furthermore, liberal arts professors often emphasize teaching students how to think rather than giving out their own opinions non-stop. This helps prepare you for work where people with different views come together every day.
Seventh, they get to think more
As I mentioned before, liberal arts professors are not paid as well as education professionals with higher academic degrees like teaching or coaching. However, what they earn is still very good!
Liberal arts professor salaries vary quite a bit depending upon which school you ask and how much money their district or department has per student. Plus, some departments at certain universities may have additional outside income sources such as research grants or private donations.
Overall, though, we did our best to average out the different categories. Our data comes from The Huffington Post, CampusJobs, PayScale, Indeed, and LinkedIn for information about each profession’s average total pay. We then took an average of all those numbers to determine what the typical salary was in each category.
The two highest paying areas for liberal arts professors seem to be educational counseling and university leadership. Both of these require advanced degree training so most people that work in this field already have at least an undergraduate degree.
Eighth, they get to express themselves more
As mentioned earlier, liberal arts professors are not limited to teaching one subject or set of skills. You can be an English professor who teaches creative writing, you can be sociology with emphasis on race relations, you can be art history with consideration of how artists use symbolism in their work.
Your students will probably learn something from you whether you know it or not!
And if your audience is already mostly white and wealthy, then your lessons may go unheard. That’s why there are so many rich, powerful people with liberal arts degrees- you never know what you’ll teach someone else.
Ninth, they get to challenge themselves more
As I mentioned before, liberal arts majors are not limited to just studying literature, art, or music. They can study anything that teaches you about different themes and concepts, how to analyze things logically, and how to put pieces together to make sense of what you learn.
Most colleges offer at least one major in each of these areas, but some have several. For instance, there may be an English major, theater studies major, and creative writing major. These three could all include courses such as literary analysis, speech class, and writing classes.
All of these parts of the curriculum help students develop other skills beyond just learning information. This is important because it gives them something else to add to their résumé later when they go looking for employment.
They will also have learned how to think critically about the world and yourself, which are both very valuable life lessons.