English literature is one of the most wide-ranging university subjects, letting you explore politics, history, art, drama, culture, psychology… pretty much anything to do with what humans have done, thought or felt. And when you’re finished with your English literature degree, you'll be primed for a tonne of different career paths.
Before you start thinking about which career could be for you, take a look at the valuable workplace skills your degree will give you, so you can prepare your CV.
Skills you can gain from this degree include...
Analytical and critical thinking: You'll be reading a lot of books in order to discuss and analyse them, which teaches you to think about what you're reading as you read it rather than just taking in content uncritically
Constructing an argument: You'll be writing a lot of essays, which teaches you to clearly formulate and defend an argument
Time management: You might have lots of deadlines to meet on different dates, so this demands careful planning and balancing of your free time and working time
Communication skills: You’ll learn how to articulate your views in a concise way to meet word counts, so you’ll gain confidence in other types of writing too - like emails and letters
Creativity: Interpreting texts means thinking in new ways, so you will develop creativity skills, which could be useful for solving problems or running campaigns in your career.
With a degree in English literature, you could become…
Here are some common career routes for English literature grads.
It’s no surprise that many English graduates want to spend their time professionally editing books, journals, and magazines. You’ll cover a wide range of possible responsibilities as you make your way up the professional ladder, but basic elements of this role include proofreading, providing feedback on manuscripts, and holding meetings with writers. An English lit grad’s familiarity with giving and receiving feedback on written work is a huge bonus for this role.
If interviewing people, investigating emerging stories, and creating news content from scratch appeals to you, journalism could be your dream job. The English literature skills of research and thinking critically about sources are absolutely essential. Especially early in your career, you can expect to spend your time producing concise and accurate news stories, often involving local events. Later on, your experience with managing written projects and connecting up big-picture ideas from your degree will serve you well as you write longer reported stories.
Life as a librarian is a natural fit for English grads, as you’re already very familiar with how to navigate libraries and conduct research! The skills you’ve gained in communicating, both in person and in writing, and your flair for organisation also make you a top choice for hiring.
Despite frequently being based in tech and engineering companies, technical writing jobs often prefer a degree in English, which is no surprise when you consider that a knack for concise writing, impeccable grammar, and research skills are all essential for success. Technical writers have the tricky job of communicating complicated concepts from the tech world to a non-specialised audience, often in the form of instruction manuals or informational websites.
A degree in this subject might also take you to…
With its broad range of topics and widely transferable skills, there’s a whole spectrum of alternative careers that English literature could lead you to.
At Liverpool Hope University, English graduates have gone on to work in a range of sectors – some of them a bit unexpected! But all of them reflect the skills gained whilst studying an English literature degree. For example…
This role involves telling your brand story in an exciting and engaging way. This offers value to a business’s potential clients, thereby building trust and relationships to encourage clients to interact with the brand. This is done over the likes of social media, newsletters, events, websites, and videos. An English degree allows you to interact with a range of literature from different genres and time periods, which means you know firsthand how to get the audience’s attention, and exactly what to say to keep them interested.
International recruitment manager in higher education
In this career path, you’ll develop and implement marketing and recruitment strategies in target countries in order to support university-wide student recruitment and conversion objectives. Marketing and recruitment may not seem like they have particularly strong links to an English literature degree, but in reality, your developed analytical skills will put you in an excellent position.
Delivering innovative and exclusive exhibitions in a museum is at the centre of this job. The role also involves giving audiences an insight into the history and context of particular artefacts, time periods, and historical figures. As part of your English degree, you will certainly have spent time researching the time periods in which particular texts were written. You might find you already know quite a lot about the Victorian era from having studied literature from this period.
This art form involves critiquing society and entertaining audiences using methods that may include, but are not limited to, spoken word performances and body art. As part of your degree, you likely would have spent time studying the theatrical world, including spoken poetry and performance. In this case, you’ll not only be able to put on a show for entertainment, but also be able to comment on current issues, just as many playwrights and poets have done in their work.
Music events organiser
In this role, you’ll be planning, organising, and creating music events, ensuring that the audiences are engaged and relationships with clients are built in order to promote and market events properly. In this case, the soft skills you developed by completing a degree in English – for example, organisation, interpersonal skills, and planning – will all be highly valuable in a career centred around entertainment and interacting with other people.
You can expect to lead the strategic marketing communications and operational delivery for an organisation in this position. The role also involves pushing the brand to a range of stakeholders, adapting messaging and creating marketing campaigns and activity. A flair for words is essential here; knowing exactly how to get your audience interested is a skill you’ll have got from your degree, and you can put it to good use in this career.
15 months after graduating…
The average salary for an English student 15 months after graduating is £18,000. 94.4% of English students have secured a graduate job by this time.
… and long term?
‘As part of this degree, you’ll gain a better understanding of how the world works, from many perspectives: political, sociological, psychological… and the skills are so widely transferable.’ - James Leyshon, Deputy UK Student Recruitment Manager, Liverpool Hope University
If any of the above career paths have caught your eye, head on over to our Careers library to learn more about the path you can take to each of these roles!