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6.18.2012

Writers: Of Course You're Fucked


In a (non-surprising) report from Forbes, English is the worst master's degree you could possibly ever think about getting. The only worst than that is library science.
"Not all master’s degree holders enjoy anywhere near such optimistic job prospects or extraordinary pay. Getting a master’s in library and information science, English, music, or education can be extremely gratifying but pricy. Median mid-career median pay for all those degrees is under $63,000, and employment for them isn’t expected to grow significantly over the next few years."
For English (rank 2nd worst), the mid-career median income is $62,900. For library science, it's $57,600.

While the report doesn't specify if the English degree in question is an MA or an MFA, but the MFA always comes to mind. What are the income prospect of those with MFAs? Well, on the one hand, you could become one of the New Yorker "20 Under 40" Writers, most of who have MFAs. Or, most likely, this can happen:
"A survey of past graduates of Columbia University's creative-writing program found a high percentage of real-estate brokers, social workers, employees of insurance companies and advertising agencies, school guidance counselors, proofreaders and college-level freshman composition teachers whose publication experience was nonexistent or modest at best."
One could argue that the goal of the MFA is to be a better writer or to become a writing instructor and be in such an environment (e.g. academia) which nurtures writing (e.g. a university job). Yet would this explain the debt some student incur from getting their degree only to end up in a job that "pay[s] poorly, typically offer no insurance or guarantee of a job past the 9-month school term (though there are multi-year contracts out there), and often you must move around or supplement by teaching at several schools at once."

Don't like the teaching career, post-MFA life offers some options:
Greeting Card Author
Creativity Coach
Writing Coach
Advertising
Screenwriter
Songwriter (Lyricist)
Legacy Writer
Ghostwriter
Article Writer
Columnist
Video Game Writer
Personal Poet
Playwright
Blogger
Creative Writing Consultant
Is all this worth being an artist? Is it reasonable to go into debt? (Of course, I'm not talking too much about programs that fund their students).


On another hand, what does the way we treat writers, artists, and librarians say about us as a society and what we value?

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