What can I do with my English Degree?

Written by Calvin Bowers

It can be hard to know where a degree in English can take you. Many students worry that humanities subjects have fewer career prospects due to their strong academic focus. In reality, English degrees, like all humanities degrees, equip you with valuable skills that will help you thrive in any workplace.

As an English graduate of any kind, you do not only have soft transferable skills which can be applied to any role, but you have also been through rigorous training for many careers you probably haven’t thought of.

Here at Developing a Student, we believe championing all kinds of subjects, including the humanities. Hence, we want to show you some of the many places your degree could take you.

Your skills

There are many different varieties of English degrees. The most common ones, including English Literature, English Language, Comparative Literature and American Literature.

All of these subjects have a strong focus on language and communication. They use different texts and concepts to understand the world and other people’s perspectives. This is a highly valuable skill which will help you in careers which require empathy and understanding. Furthermore, on a practical level, this skill will enable you to interpret items from multiple perspectives methodically. This could be text, data, primary sources or even images.

The primary skill you will have developed throughout an English degree is the capability to read and write. This may seem simple; however, the ability to read complex texts, and communicate the central idea through writing, is a highly skilled task that many adults struggle with. You will have learnt the importance of balance between clarity and creativity in your writing which will be extremely useful in any creative industry.

As with many humanities degrees, there isn’t always a clear answer or a correct result to the research you are doing during an English or Literature degree. Being able to think abstractly, and to consider multiple ideas at once is an ability that is highly regarded in many professions.

For example, in scenarios where you must use your judgement skill to make a difficult decision, it’s essential to be able to understand multiple perspectives. This might be important in care professions such as social work, or highly pressured environments such as the police.


Where can these skills take you?

Any job related to books, reading and literature is an obvious career path for English students. While it may not be for everyone, it is well worth a mention as for some being able to work with books and literature is a dream role.

The leading employer in these industries is publishers. Publishers are organisations that prepare and release books and other physical publications; there are a wide variety of roles within publishers to suit all different skills sets. One of the most coveted roles within publishing is that of being an editor. An editor reads and edits new books, poems, plays, newspapers, journals and any other text before they are published. They also engage in delegation regarding what is and isn’t appropriate or fitting to publish.

This role requires extreme attention to detail, as well as the ability to provide constructive and transparent criticism.

Another popular role in the publishing industry is working in the marketing department. This is a team of people who are in charge of advertising new work. They create campaigns and understand the target audience of the publication. This is a highly creative role and can require elements of design, as well as writing and sales.

Some less obvious career paths include working in the charity sector. As mentioned earlier, the study of language and literature equips you with the ability to understand people and their feelings. This level of empathy can be beneficial in charities as you will feel motivated to help the cause you are working for. Working in a charity can often be a demanding role which requires a whole variety of skills. Such as copywriting, communication, teamwork, public speaking and mentoring. All of which you have developed the core abilities throughout your degree.

Other great career options include teaching and education, radio and TV, or Law.


Last Updated: Sunday November 15 2020
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