If you’re thinking of doing an English degree, you’ll be familiar with people asking you what job you can get afterwards. They’re really concerned! There isn’t an obvious career path for an English graduate like there is for someone studying computing, law or medicine. So, people start to panic for you! They worry: are you going to be unemployed when you leave?
I know the feeling. When I chose to do a degree in the humanities, my dad was worried about me. He asked me again and again if I was sure. I mean, I had at least an A in every subject I took for GCSE and A-level (except drama). Surely, I could go anywhere. Why history and English?
People just don’t understand how valuable an English degree really is. They’re so confused that the Guardian felt the need to make a whole article to tell us all the truth. It is possible to get a good job with an English degree. In fact, English graduates have skills that make them an amazing choice to hire!
The problem isn’t the degree. It’s the way people talk about it. If we keep pretending that English is a useless subject, employers are going to believe that. Then, they’ll miss out on the talent and experience of graduates who could really help them right now. Let’s not let things go that way.
So, let me show you how an English degree can help you. There are many amazing, well-paid jobs you can get afterwards! Read on to find out some of the options.
Table of contents
- How Can English Degree Help With Job Prospects?
- Which Jobs Are Available for an English Degree Graduate?
- Combining an English Degree With Further Study to Get a Job
- So Why Do English Graduates Struggle?
How Can English Degree Help With Job Prospects?
One of the best things about English degrees is that they give you flexible skills that will fit many jobs. As I stressed in my post about English GCSE, it’s not about memorising Shakespeare. You spend your time learning how writers use words to influence us. In turn, you learn how you can do the same thing.
You also pick up amazing writing skills. You get the chance to learn from the best and then put their work into action. That means writing essays, creative writing, news articles and much more. The internet is full of people’s writing. If you want to stand out, it’s a good idea to learn the basics. English can help you with that.
Plus, most of the jobs you can get after an English degree are safe from automation.
What do I mean by that? Well, people probably aren’t going to be able to programme a computer to replace us. At least, not at the moment, anyway. So, your job is one of the safest!
Have you ever read a story written by AI? Most of them aren’t that good. The ones that are promising don’t have the emotion that a real person can write. At the moment, people use them for inspiration and then write their own thing.
When it comes to automation, you might say that jobs like education are going online more and more. Even with that, though, we still need people to write the content and deliver the Zoom lessons.
English Graduate Skills
Here is a list of some of the many skills you get from doing an English degree. They’re super useful for employers and for starting up your own business! Plus, I’ve put at least one job per useful skill in brackets.
- Critical Thinking Skills (Teaching)
- Writing (Journalism)
- Using Words to Influence Others (Marketing)
- Making Good Arguments (Law)
- Analysing the Work of Other People (Critique, Editing)
- Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (Proofreading)
- Reading Quickly and Widely (Law)
- Choosing the Right Words to Convey Your Message (Politics)
- Understanding How Stories Change the World (Advertising, Marketing, Filmmaking)
- Research and Archiving (Librarianship, Coursebook Writing)
There are plenty of other skills you develop with an English degree, too! These are just the main ones I think everyone needs to know about.
They won’t just help you to find jobs, either. These skills will help you to be good at the jobs you get hired for. That means you’re more likely to get raises and climb the career ladder – if that’s what you want.
I want to say, though: getting a degree isn’t all about your job. It’s about doing something you love and enriching your life. You should find a job that you like, so you will be happy doing it. Of course! But your degree is so much more than a pathway into a job.
Your degree is a way for you to improve the way you interact with the world. With an English degree, you will also learn to empathise with others, engage with interesting stories and protect yourself against fake news.
Which Jobs Are Available for an English Degree Graduate?
Now that we’ve got the skills out of the way, let’s have a look at the jobs that use these skills.
What you’ll notice about these jobs is that none of them are manual. They all require you to sit at a desk or teach to a class. Most of the time, you’ll need a computer, too! So, it’s a good idea that you use your English degree as an opportunity to get used to typing fast. All the essays and dissertations should give you plenty of practice.
On top of that, lots of these jobs pay well. If you climb up the ladder in banking, HR or marketing, for example, you can live quite a comfortable life! The same is true of something like public relations, too. If you’re lucky and clever with your blog or book, that can also make you a decent amount of money.
Not all of them pay so well, of course. I challenge you to find a teacher who thinks they’re paid enough for the hours they do. We make about the average pay for the UK, which is… fine. However, we do have lots of other benefits, like an amazing pension package, good holidays, and job security. We’re not going to stop needing teachers any time soon.
If I listed all the jobs open to English degree graduates, I’d be here for the next month. So, I’ve compiled a short selection of ones you might have heard of before.
You might notice that some of the jobs are repeated, though. That’s because there is a bit of crossover in the different areas an English graduate can work. For example, tutoring is an education job, but it also gives you the flexibility to become self-employed! So, I had to put it in both.
If you’re going to do a degree in a non-practical subject, you might be looking for a corporate job after. These are your typical office jobs where you get your own desk and computer provided. Or, you might also work from home! After all, that is becoming so much more popular lately.
People with English degrees get hired for all of the following jobs. Plus, they are quite good at them, too! All the skills I mentioned earlier will help you to do well in these kinds of jobs.
- Human Resources
- Social Media Managing
- Public Relations
There are plenty of others, too. You’re not limited by the ones I mentioned here.
Plus, it’s good to think about how popular a job is when looking. The more niche it is, the more you are likely to get paid. Lots of people will be looking for a HR or marketing job, so the competition is high, and employers can pay low. So, don’t be afraid to apply for those stranger jobs! If you have the skills, there’s no harm!
As a teacher, I am biased towards jobs in the education field. I think they’re great! In fact, I’ve done work as almost all of these things before!
If you’re an English graduate, a job in education could be great for you. We always need new teachers as the population of the country grows. English language and maths are the two compulsory subjects students must take in their GCSEs. So, you’re in a good position as an English graduate.
Plus, there are so many opportunities abroad! I mentioned already that UK teachers don’t get the best pay in the world. However, there are many other countries that place a much higher value on education. So, they’re willing to pay teachers a lot more!
If you want to be paid well and be in the education field, you can always go abroad! You can find amazing EFL jobs on places like the TEFL website or through a scheme like JET or NET. Plus, there are also jobs in secondary schools for people with PGCEs. You can find them on COBIS.
Here is a list of great jobs you can get in the education sector.
- EFL Teaching
- Curriculum Development
- Coursebook Writing
- Museum Curation
- Tour Guiding
- Online Course Development
Most of these jobs probably won’t make you rich (I’ll get back to you on the last few when my online course comes out). However, they are fulfilling with many great benefits. If you like helping others, education is a great field to go down.
As a creative person, these kinds of jobs were my first choice after uni. I made ShanniiWrites to give me a chance to combine my love of writing with my love of helping others, after all! These jobs give you the chance to make something that will live on after you. I mean, who isn’t interested in that?
Be aware, though: there are loads of people who want to go down this route! That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you need to find a way to stand out. Think about how your life experiences can give you a unique story to tell. Make sure you hone your craft by reading books and taking courses. Most importantly, get comfortable with criticism.
I don’t want to scare you, though. There are plenty of jobs out there for people who enjoy being creative! Even if you don’t have the means to make a whole film right now, you can join a team or company that will help you gain the skills you need.
Creative jobs are a long game, not a short-term strategy.
Here’s a list of some of the jobs you might be looking for with an English degree:
- Novel Writing
- Interactive Story Creating
- Script or Screenplay Writing
- Media Critique
- Media Research and Fact-Checking
Please be aware that very few writers become millionaires, too. I know many of us think we’re going to write the next Harry Potter. I certainly did when I started my story. It’s not that easy, though! The market is a lot more oversaturated now, so there’s more competition for the same number of readers. They can’t read everything! Your best bet is to write multiple different books, so people have lots of different ways to find you.
Jobs That Can Make a Difference
I don’t know about you, but I want to change the world.
It’s always been a dream of mine to leave a mark on history. I want people to be able to see and engage with my contribution to the world in 500 years. I don’t know how I want to do it, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out!
Everyone always thinks of politics and diplomacy when they want to change the world. That makes sense! It is the obvious choice because it’s true! You could write a new law that helps with poverty in your country. You never know. However, those aren’t the only jobs that change the world.
As an English degree graduate, there are so many amazing, world-changing jobs open to you. First of all, there’s education. Do it right, and you’ll make a difference in hundreds of people’s lives. Maybe even thousands if you start a successful blog or write an amazing course book! I’m working on those myself.
You can also write stories that can make a huge difference! You could be the next George Orwell, using art to shine a light on our real world. Imagine writing something so amazing that it makes people reflect on their lives?! Or, you could investigate the real world through journalism or documentary. Learn how to tell the story in an engaging way, and you can inform the world of things they never knew!
This list is a good place to start if you’re looking to make a difference:
- Civil Service
- Charity Campaigning
Lots of people would love to work for themselves – including me! I mean, you get to set your own hours and answer to no one. Plus, if your job is online, you can do it from anywhere in the world! Who doesn’t want to sit on the beach with a laptop and ice cream?!
If you want to become self-employed, there are a few things you need: a vision, a business plan, discipline and passion for what you do.
So many of us would love to work for ourselves so we don’t have to answer to anyone. That does mean that no one else can tell you to work, though. If you’re struggling with motivation issues, that can lead to many days of doing nothing. So, make sure you take care of your mental health at the same time!
Also, make sure you brush up on your tax knowledge, too. If you work for yourself, you’ll have to start paying your own taxes. It’s not like working for a company where someone else takes it out of your paycheck!
Here is a list of great self-employed and freelance jobs you can do as an English degree graduate. For lots of these jobs, you can also do them in an office! However, many people are choosing to work for themselves with these skills.
- Editing and Sensitivity Reading
- Virtual Assistance
- Online Course Development
Combining an English Degree With Further Study to Get a Job
Right now, unemployment is pretty high. That means that employers can take their pick of many amazing people for the few jobs that do exist. So, they set high standards: 5 years of experience.
There are many jobs that require you to train some more. That’s not just because you’re an English graduate! There can be many reasons why you’d need to do more studying! For example, teachers have to get QTS before they’re allowed to work in a state school. That’s the law.
Some of these jobs do have undergraduate degrees that you could have done instead of English. However, you’re not at a disadvantage! There are plenty of postgraduate courses you can do to teach you all you need to know in that career path. If you want to go into law, you have law conversion courses you can check out. For future librarians, CILIP has a whole list of courses you can choose from.
Most of these will be covered by student loan, too!
Don’t feel like you wasted years doing an English degree, though. The skills you get in English will give you a great advantage! You’ll be unique compared to the people who just do the straight degree because you’ll have been taught to think in different ways.
Here’s a list of amazing careers. If you upskill a little, an English degree will make you sound great to employers in these fields!
- EFL Teaching
For counselling, you can also combine it with English or drama to do something unique! After all, dramatherapy is a real thing. So is therapy with creative writing. You can be niche, which could make you more well-paid.
So Why Do English Graduates Struggle?
You might have heard that lots of English degree graduates don’t have jobs. If you speak to other people, they might tell you that the unemployment rate is super high.
Well, aside from that not being completely true, it ignores the main reasons why English degree holders struggle to find jobs:
- Being unsure of what jobs you’re suitable for.
- Not considering the niche careers.
- Only applying for huge companies with thousands of applicants.
- Not knowing how to make a good CV.
- Not tying your degree to what you can offer to a company in your personal statement.
- Worrying that you can’t go self-employed.
- Employers not being sure which skills you gain from an English degree.
That last one is super interesting for me. As a history degree graduate, I’ve had employers ask me why I chose the subject. Why not marketing? Why something that doesn’t have a clear career path? I take the chance to explain all the amazing skills that I gain: writing, making arguments, archiving, and research – just to name a few!
An English degree can get you a good job. You can live a fairly comfortable life as a teacher or a journalist. However, I have to be honest with you. It is harder to be super well-off with an English degree than it is with an IT degree. There are way more high-paid IT jobs out there. That might make you want to do a law conversion course.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though! Headteachers can make up to 6 figures. If you work for yourself, you have the power to charge a fair but high rate that allows you to live your ideal life.
All is possible! You can get a great job with an English degree! If it’s what you want, go for it!