What You Do With an Ethnic Studies Degree Including 11 Jobs

Updated June 24, 2022

An ethnic studies degree provides an educational background in various cultures and helps a person understand the importance of diversity. This knowledge can be applicable in many careers and this degree programs helps professionals develop transferable skills such as research, analytical and interpersonal skills. If you have an interest in learning about the art, literature and history of cultures around the world, pursing a degree in ethnic studies and discovering what you can do with this degree professionally may help narrow your career options.

In this article, we discuss what you do with an ethnic studies degree, including jobs where this degree is applicable and how this area of study can benefit you both professionally and personally.

What is an ethnic studies degree?

An ethnic studies degree is an educational program that combines the study of history and the study of culture to examine race and ethnicities, especially concerning minorities. A student majoring in ethnic studies takes courses in political science, sociology, history, literature, music and economics to learn more about diversity. Common courses include:

  • Cultural issues in psychology

  • Racial and ethnic politics

  • Research methods

  • Migration and culture

  • Comparative ethnic literature

  • Intersections of race, class and gender

  • Art history

This degree helps develop interpersonal skills, research abilities and can teach you to think more critically. These are transferable skills for any industry. Studying other cultures can help you relate with others and may help you thrive in diverse settings.

What can you do with an ethnic studies degree?

You can pursue many interesting careers with an ethnic studies degree. Whether you're a creative individual or your talents more closely relate to STEM, there may be a job perfectly suited for you where you can apply this degree. Here are 11 examples of jobs you can get with a degree in ethnic studies. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below:

1. Teacher

National average salary: $23,899 per year

Primary duties: A teacher is an educational professional who provides instruction to students and gives them coursework to evaluate their knowledge and understanding. A degree in ethnic studies with a teaching license allows you to teach history,psychology, art, literature or political science courses. Teachers' job duties typically include creating lesson plans, assigning coursework and administering tests to evaluate students. A teacher also gives lectures and prepares activities to provide hands-on learning experiences for students.

Related: Learn About Being a Teacher

2. Rehabilitation Specialist

National average salary: $41,566 per year

Primary duties: A rehabilitation specialist is a professional who helps people with injuries or disabilities regain independence by helping them develop skills for daily tasks. Some primary job responsibilities include assessing clients and creating activities to help teach life skills. Rehabilitation specialists also help people gain access to community services and assistance programs. They monitor their clients and keep detailed records of their progress. An ethic studies degree is useful for this career because it helps an individual learn to relate and connect with others emotionally, which can have a positive effect on the client's healing process.

3. Probation officer

National average salary: $43,453 per year

Primary duties: A probation officer is a professional who supervises people who offend the law. They provide documentation for the court concerning the client's behavior while they're on parole or under supervision for other legal reasons. Probation officers meet with clients and counsel them while helping them rehabilitate. A probation officer may recommend services to their clients for legal or rehabilitation purposes. They also administer drug tests and psychological evaluation of their clients. Since an ethnic studies degree teaches diversity, becoming a probation officer is a good career path because it provides insight to understand your clients and their issues.

Related: Learn About Being a Probation Officer

4. Advertising agent

National average salary: $43,870 per year

Primary duties: An advertising agent is a sales professional who contacts customers and makes sales pitches to sell products or services for a business. The literature and psychology courses that an ethnic degree requires helps a professional develop skills to write sales pitches and appeal to customers. An advertising agent may make cold calls to inform consumers about products, write ads and create advertising content. They also maintain contact with customers to build relationships and encourage customer loyalty. An advertising agent may work for a firm or various businesses and sell ad space or their advertising services.

5. Paralegal

National average salary: $51,395 per year

Primary duties: A paralegal is a law professional who assists in law offices and performs administrative duties. They help research for cases by interviewing witnesses, keeping documentation for the client and conducting legal research relating to the case. Paralegals also prepare court documents and draft pleads and requests. An ethnic studies degree is useful in this profession to teach psychology and political science issues of equality.

Related: Learn About Being a Paralegal

6. Grant writer

National average salary: $53,267 per year

Primary duties: A grant writer is a technical writer who drafts proposals to get funding for organizations. Typical job duties include researching, developing fundraising campaigns and finding opportunities for the organization to receive grant money. Often grant writers work for government agencies and organizations or non-profit organizations. A professional who gets a degree in ethnic studies may focus on non-profit organizations that offer services for minorities. Their expertise in economics, research and cultures helps advise the writing of proposals and helps identify effective methods to appeal to others.

Related: Learn About Being a Grant Writer

7. Curator

National average salary: $53,817 per year

Primary duties: A curator is an art professional who finds, buys and arranges items for museum exhibits. A background in art, culture and history helps recognize artifacts and design cohesive collections for a museum. Curators also loan items to other exhibits and help restore artifacts. They also play a role in marketing for the museum and developing educational materials for patrons regarding new museum exhibits. A curator dedicates time to conservation and raising awareness of historical and cultural issues.

Related: 21 Art History Careers

8. Administrative analyst

National average salary: $58,068 per year

Primary duties: An administrative analyst is a professional who performs clerical duties and research. Someone who has an ethnic studies degree may work in a law, medical, government or non-profit organization's office. Administrative analysts work with accounting data and research and interpret statistical information and reports. They document their research, which helps executives make decisions for the organization regarding budgets. Administrative analysts may also identify inefficiencies in office practices and implement creative solutions.

9. Customs officer

National average salary: $70,481per year

Primary duties: A customs officer is a law enforcement officer who enforces regulations at U.S borders. Their main job duties include searching cargo and the luggage of travelers to ensure safety and national security.This job may require additional training, but a degree in ethnic studies is useful for a professional who may often interact with minorities and people from other cultures. Customs officers may seize illegal goods or persons entering the country and interview travelers. Some customs officers may work in postal offices and shipping centers to inspect mail and ensure that it's safe to mail to people.

10. Writer and editor

National average salary: $71,402 per year

Primary duties: A writer and editor is a communication professional who creates correspondence or other written materials and proofreads their and others' work. Professional writers can work in many industries, including marketing, education, entertainment, law, politics and business development. They conduct research, draft content and write speeches, advertising materials, proposals, news stories, research papers, legal documents and other written works. This is an attractive career for ethnic studies majors because they develop excellent research skills in college and their background in art and cultures can encourage engaging writing.

11. Lawyer

National average salary: $73,998 per year

Primary duties: A lawyer is a professional who is an expert in legal matters. To become a lawyer, you need additional training, but a degree in ethnic studies is a relevant degree to earn before attending law school. Lawyers use knowledge of history and political science topics to practice law and help defend it. They help clients navigate legal matters by giving advice and representing them in court. Lawyers may also arrange for mediations between their clients and opposing parties to find compromise and settle disputes. A lawyer who has a background in ethnic studies may specialize to represent immigrants or other minorities in their legal battles.

Related: Learn About Being a Lawyer

Benefits of earning an ethnic studies degree

The knowledge you gain in your courses in an ethnic studies degree program can benefit you in numerous ways. This degree covers a range of information which applies to different industries and can help you to develop skills that are useful for any career. Here are some of the top benefits an ethnic studies degree can provide:

Raises your self-awareness

Self-awareness is important for maintaining professionalism and relationships. Understanding your motivations and actions can give you more control in situations and lead to more effective decision-making. Ethnic studies can help you develop a keen sense of being self-aware because this degree program teaches you about cultures that exists around you in society. Learning about minorities, race issues and history can help you to recognize how you may contribute to society and interact with others.

It's important to learn about your own culture and the culture of others so that you can relate to them and understand yourself more.

Immerses you in diversity

Diversity can encourage creativity, innovation and inclusiveness. You can become more aware of diversity and it's importance when you study various cultures. A professional with a background in ethnic studies makes a great leader because they can understand the importance of differing perspectives and are likely to favor equality in the workplace. More employers are seeking to hire a diverse team of employees, and these studies may help you gain recognition and preference.

Exposure to multiple cultures can also help you become more creative and influence you to develop innovative techniques that are inclusive. For example, depending on where you grow up, you may not learn of minority cultures until you study ethnic studies which teaches you about the art, history, literature and practices that a certain culture is responsible for, and when you learn this, you may have a unique perspective.

Related: 7 Types of Diversity That Can Enhance a Workplace

Helps develop an adaptable skill set

You may develop many useful skills in this area of study which you can apply both professionally and in your personal life. For example, ethnic studies helps you understand and relate to people who are different, which is very helpful when building relationships. Interpersonal skills are in demand for careers that involve leadership because it's essential to have meaningful relationships with the employees you manage. Ethnic studies involve a lot of research and analysis. These skills can apply to any career.

Developing a skill set that is adaptable to any career path provides you with more options than a typical degree might. This can be useful for students who are unsure of their career path but have an interest in pursuing advanced education.

Provides opportunities to change your perspective

Perspective involves your point of view and can determine how you interpret and understand your surrounds and events that occur in your environment. This is useful in professional environments for problem-solving, collaborating and communicating. Being able to assume different viewpoints and understand multiple perspectives is also helpful in resolving conflict. This is an advantage to you because it may help build meaningful relationships at work and in your personal life. Often, these relationships can make work more satisfying and contribute to a positive work environment for your colleagues.

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