Liberal Arts Degrees Can Pay Off

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Even in today's shrinking economy, some career coaches say liberal arts degrees can still pave the way to a successful career in financial services.

Former Merrill Lynch campus recruiting head Connie Thanasoulis told the New York Daily News that the skills obtained in English literature and other arts degrees can be an ideal training ground for finance and management. She points to a job like a research analyst, heavy on writing, as a well paying job suited for someone with a liberal arts background. The skills desired by employers, she says, like communication, problem solving, attention to detail and teamwork, can all be found in liberal arts programs.

Now in private practice as co-founder of the Six Figure Start, a New York consulting firm, Thanasoulis held a variety of recruiting roles at Merrill from 2000 through 2007, and previously in 15 years at Citigroup.

Sally Stetson, an executive search consultant at Salveson Stetson Group, says liberal arts graduates can land jobs in technology, investment banking and global marketing, with base pay of about $60,000. An accounting job, meanwhile, pays about $55,000 while positions in areas such as human resources, compliance and operations start at a base pay of $50,000, the Daily News says. Of interest to employers, Stetson says, is that liberal arts graduates offer a diverse skill set and a foundation with which to develop new ones within an organization over time.

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