What can you do with an English literature degree?

An English Literature degree opens a world of possibilities for graduates, with a range of exciting career options to explore. This degree not only delves into the rich literary traditions and works of the English language but also equips students with valuable transferable skills that are highly sought after in various industries. In this article, we will explore the diverse career paths available to those with an English Literature degree, the skills acquired through the program, and the challenges and opportunities that English Literature graduates may encounter.

By studying English Literature, students gain a deep understanding of the written word, critical thinking abilities, analytical skills, and the ability to articulate ideas effectively. These skills are highly valued in a variety of fields. Career options for English Literature graduates are diverse and include opportunities in education and academia, writing and editing, publishing and literary agent roles, journalism and media, public relations and advertising, and even roles in arts and culture.

However, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that English Literature graduates may face in a competitive job market. The demand for English Literature graduates is high, but so is the competition. Therefore, it is crucial for graduates to showcase their transferable skills and adapt their expertise to different roles. Continuing education is also a valuable option for graduates looking to specialize or gain additional qualifications to enhance their career prospects.

In this article, we will delve into the various career paths for English Literature graduates, discuss the skills they acquire, and provide insights into the challenges and opportunities they may encounter in the job market. With a blend of passion, skills, and adaptability, English Literature graduates can embark on rewarding and fulfilling career journeys.

Career Options with an English Literature Degree

With an English literature degree, the possibilities for your future career are vast and varied. From diving into the world of education and academia to channeling your creative talents into writing and editing, this section explores the numerous paths that you can pursue. Dive into the captivating realms of publishing and literary agent roles, or make your mark in the exciting fields of journalism and media. Alternatively, explore the dynamic domains of public relations and advertising, or indulge your passion for arts and culture. The door is wide open; let’s explore the possibilities!

Education and Academia

Education and academia is a major avenue for individuals with an English literature degree.

  1. To pursue a career in education, many English literature graduates go on to become teachers at various levels in the field of education and academia. They can teach English language and literature in middle schools, high schools, or even universities.
  2. With a strong foundation in literature, graduates can also consider becoming researchers or scholars in the field of English literature. They can conduct in-depth analysis, publish papers in scholarly journals, and contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the discipline within the realm of education and academia.
  3. English literature graduates can also choose to pursue advanced degrees such as a Master’s or a Ph.D. in education and academia. This allows them to delve deeper into specific areas of literature and develop expertise in their chosen field of study within the realm of education and academia.
  4. Serving as academic advisors or mentors, English literature graduates can guide and support students in their academic journey within the realm of education and academia. They can provide guidance on course selection, help with research projects, and assist with career planning.
  5. English literature graduates can also work in educational administration, taking up roles such as department heads, coordinators, or administrators in schools or universities. They can contribute to curriculum development, policy-making, and overall management of academic programs in the field of education and academia.

Writing and Editing

When pursuing a degree in English literature, the skills acquired in writing and editing are valuable for various career paths. Here are some options for those interested in writing and editing:

  1. Journalism: English literature graduates can find opportunities in journalism, where they can apply their writing and editing skills to report news and write articles for newspapers, magazines, or online publications.
  2. Content Writing: Many companies and organizations require skilled writers to create compelling content for their websites, blogs, social media platforms, and marketing materials. English literature graduates can excel in this field by crafting engaging and persuasive texts.
  3. Publishing: With their strong writing and editing abilities, English literature graduates can pursue careers in publishing. They can work as editors, proofreaders, or literary agents, helping authors refine their work and preparing manuscripts for publication.
  4. Copywriting: Copywriters create persuasive and compelling content for advertising and marketing materials. English literature graduates can utilize their writing skills to craft impactful advertising campaigns and promotional materials.
  5. Freelance Writing: English literature graduates can opt for a freelance writing career, where they can work on a variety of projects, such as writing articles, blog posts, or even books. This allows them the flexibility to choose their projects and work from anywhere.

Pro-tip: Building a strong portfolio and gaining practical experience through internships or freelance work can significantly enhance your chances of success in the writing and editing industry.

Publishing and Literary Agent

When pursuing a career in publishing and literary agent with an English Literature degree, there are several opportunities and roles to consider:

  1. Literary Agent: As a publishing and literary agent, you will represent authors and their works to publishers. You will negotiate contracts, assist with manuscript revisions, and provide guidance to authors throughout the publishing process. Building strong relationships with authors and publishers is key to success in this role.
  2. Editorial Assistant: Working as a publishing and literary agent’s editorial assistant, you will provide support to editors in acquiring, developing, and editing manuscripts. You will review submissions, offer feedback on manuscripts, and assist in administrative tasks related to the publication process. Strong attention to detail and excellent communication skills are crucial in this role.
  3. Publishing Assistant: In this publishing and literary agent role, you will assist with the day-to-day operations of a publishing house. This can include tasks such as managing submissions, coordinating with authors and editors, assisting with marketing and publicity efforts, and handling administrative duties. Strong organizational and multitasking skills are important in this role.
  4. Publicist: As a publishing and literary agent’s publicist, you will be responsible for promoting books and authors to the media and the public. This can involve arranging author interviews, organizing book signings and events, drafting press releases, and managing social media campaigns. Strong communication and networking skills are essential in this role.
  5. Book Reviewer: Working as a publishing and literary agent’s book reviewer, you will read and analyze books, providing reviews and recommendations to readers. You may work for a publication, a book review website, or independently as a freelance reviewer. Strong analytical and writing skills are important in this role.

These are just a few examples of the career paths available in publishing and literary agent with an English Literature degree. Each role requires a passion for books, strong communication skills, and a good understanding of the publishing industry. By cultivating your knowledge of literature, developing your writing and editing skills, and gaining industry experience, you can thrive in this field.

Journalism and Media

Journalism and media are lucrative fields for individuals with an English literature degree.

1. Journalism provides an avenue for those interested in reporting and writing news stories. With their strong writing skills and ability to analyze complex issues, English literature graduates can excel in this fast-paced industry. They can contribute to newspapers, magazines, online publications, or even start their own media blog.

2. Media encompasses various forms such as television, radio, and digital platforms. English literature graduates can work in journalism as researchers, writers, producers, or editors, creating engaging content for diverse audiences. They can analyze levels of meaning in TV shows, explore human relationships in films, or even become legal advisors for media organizations.

3. English literature graduates can also become powerful writers in the realm of digital publishing. They can utilize their knowledge of contemporary literature, American literature, women’s writing, and crime writing to craft compelling stories or articles.

By combining their understanding of literary movements and critical approaches with their strong writing abilities, English literature graduates can make their mark in the fields of journalism and media. They have the skills to captivate audiences and provide thoughtful insights through their work.

Public Relations and Advertising

Public Relations and Advertising can offer exciting and dynamic career opportunities for individuals with an English Literature degree. Here are some avenues to consider:

1. Working in PR Agencies: PR agencies help clients build and manage their public image. With excellent communication and persuasive skills, English Literature graduates can excel in this field by creating compelling narratives, fostering relationships with the media, and executing effective communication strategies.

2. Corporate Communications: Many companies have in-house PR departments to handle their communication needs. English Literature graduates can work in these departments to create brand messaging, manage media relations, and handle crisis communications.

3. Advertising Agencies: English Literature graduates can contribute in advertising agencies by writing engaging copy, creating captivating content, and developing creative concepts for ad campaigns. They can help develop communication strategies that resonate with the target audience and achieve marketing goals.

4. Content Writing and Copywriting: With their strong writing skills, English Literature graduates can work as content writers or copywriters for various businesses. They can craft compelling narratives, persuasive ad copies, and engaging social media content to capture the attention of potential customers.

5. Social Media Management: English Literature graduates can leverage their understanding of storytelling and effective communication to excel in social media management. They can create impactful content, analyze trends, and engage with audiences to cultivate a strong online presence for brands.


– Gain practical experience through internships or entry-level positions in Public Relations and Advertising.

– Stay updated with digital trends and technologies to enhance your skills in online marketing and social media management.

– Develop a portfolio showcasing your writing and communication abilities.

– Network and build relationships with professionals in the industry to increase your job opportunities.

Remember, a career in Public Relations and Advertising can be challenging and competitive, but it also offers immense opportunities for creativity and growth.

Arts and Culture

play a significant role in the field of English Literature and offer various opportunities for graduates. When pursuing an English Literature degree, students are exposed to different forms of artistic expression that enhance their understanding of the world and human experience. Here are some potential paths for graduates within the realm of Arts and Culture.

1. Museum and Gallery Curator: English Literature graduates with a deep understanding of storytelling and historical context can curate exhibitions that engage and educate visitors.

2. Arts Administration: Graduates can work behind the scenes in arts organizations, managing budgets, coordinating events, and ensuring the smooth operation of cultural institutions.

3. Arts Journalism: Graduates skilled in critical analysis and powerful writing can become critics or journalists, analyzing and promoting various art forms through print or digital media.

4. Arts Education: English Literature graduates can inspire future generations by becoming teachers who instill a love of literature and the arts, enabling students to discover the power of storytelling.

5. Arts Marketing and Public Relations: Graduates can work in marketing teams to promote cultural events, reaching wider audiences and cultivating interest in artistic endeavors.

6. Cultural Policy and Advocacy: Graduates can contribute to the development and implementation of cultural policies that support the arts and preserve cultural heritage.

Arts and Culture provide avenues for creativity, critique, and exploration of complex issues within society. English Literature graduates possess the skills to engage with and contribute to this vibrant field. Fact: According to a study by Dr. Christopher Pittard, a senior lecturer in English Literature, arts and culture contribute significantly to the economic and social well-being of communities, generating profit and enhancing quality of life.


Skills Acquired with an English Literature Degree

  1. Strong communication skills: By studying English Literature, you can develop exceptional communication skills. You will be able to express yourself effectively and clearly in both written and oral forms.
  2. Critical thinking: Engaging with complex literary texts enhances your critical thinking skills. It enables you to analyze and understand intricate details with a keen eye for detail.
  3. Research abilities: Through writing essays and conducting extensive research on various literary topics, you can improve your research skills. It teaches you how to gather and evaluate information effectively.
  4. Interpretation and analysis: An English Literature degree equips you with the skills necessary for analyzing and interpreting literary texts. It allows you to explore multiple perspectives and make well-informed arguments.
  5. Problem-solving: The process of close reading and textual analysis in English Literature helps you identify and solve intricate problems presented within literary works.
  6. Adaptability: Studying literature exposes you to diverse cultures, values, and historical contexts, fostering adaptability and an appreciation for diversity.
  7. Attention to detail: The study of literature necessitates a meticulous approach, enabling you to identify subtle nuances and grasp deeper meanings.
  8. Creativity and imagination: Immersing yourself in creative and imaginative works of literature nurtures your own creativity and expands your imaginative capacities.
  9. Time management and organization: Successfully completing an English Literature degree requires effective time management skills and the ability to meet deadlines.
  10. Collaboration and teamwork: Engaging in group discussions and collaborative projects cultivates your ability to work collaboratively and contribute effectively within a team.

These skills acquired with an English Literature degree empower graduates to pursue diverse career paths in fields such as journalism, publishing, education, marketing, public relations, research, and more. These fields highly value strong communication, critical thinking, and research abilities.

Challenges and Opportunities for English Literature Graduates

English literature graduates face a dynamic world with both challenges and opportunities. In this section, we’ll explore the daunting job market competition that they encounter. We’ll also uncover the valuable transferable skills that set them apart. With facts and figures, we’ll unveil the reality that lies ahead for these graduates, shedding light on the path they must navigate in pursuit of fulfilling careers. So, let’s dive in and discover the challenges and opportunities awaiting English literature graduates.

Job Market Competition

When pursuing a career with an English Literature degree, it is crucial to consider the job market competition. Here is a list of factors to be aware of:

  1. High demand: There is significant competition for job opportunities in the field of English Literature. Many graduates possess similar qualifications, so it is important to stand out.
  2. Transferable skills: Graduates with an English Literature degree acquire valuable transferable skills such as critical thinking, strong communication, and analytical abilities. These skills can set candidates apart in a competitive job market.
  3. Specialization: Specializing in a particular area within the field, such as classic literature, British literature, or contemporary literature, can help to differentiate candidates and enhance their competitiveness.
  4. Work experience: Having relevant work experience, such as internships or part-time positions in publishing, editing, or writing, can give candidates an edge over other applicants.
  5. Technological proficiency: In today’s digital age, being technologically savvy is essential. Familiarity with digital publishing platforms, online research, and social media can enhance job market competitiveness.
  6. Networking: Building connections within the industry through networking events, conferences, and joining professional organizations can provide valuable opportunities and increase competitiveness.
  7. Continuous learning: Ongoing professional development, such as attending workshops or pursuing advanced degrees, can demonstrate a commitment to learning and growth, making candidates more competitive in the job market.

By considering these factors and actively working towards enhancing competitiveness, English Literature graduates can increase their chances of securing desirable job opportunities despite the competition in the job market.

Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are abilities and qualities that can be applied to various job roles and industries. As an English literature graduate, you develop a wide range of transferable skills that can be highly valuable in the professional world:

  1. Communication skills: English literature degrees require strong written and verbal communication skills, allowing you to effectively convey ideas and information to others.
  2. Critical thinking: Analyzing literature forms the foundation of an English literature degree, cultivating your ability to think critically, evaluate evidence, and formulate logical arguments.
  3. Research skills: Through conducting research for essays and projects, you become proficient in gathering, organizing, and synthesizing information from various sources.
  4. Attention to detail: Close reading and rigorous analysis of texts hones your ability to pay attention to details, identifying subtle nuances and interpreting complex ideas.
  5. Time management: Balancing coursework, reading assignments, and essay deadlines requires effective time management skills, which can be applied to any professional setting.
  6. Adaptability: Studying different literary movements and genres exposes you to diverse perspectives, developing your adaptability and openness to new ideas.

One English literature graduate, Sarah, utilized her transferable skills to land a role as a legal advisor. Sarah’s ability to analyze levels of meaning in texts and understand complex issues allowed her to excel in interpreting legal documents and providing accurate advice to clients. Additionally, her powerful writing skills helped her draft persuasive arguments and prepare legal briefs. Sarah’s background in contemporary literature and critical approaches also aided her in developing a deep understanding of human relationships, an asset when providing guidance to clients. Sarah’s English literature degree provided her with a strong foundation of transferable skills, allowing her to successfully transition into a new and fulfilling career.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is an essential aspect of personal and professional growth, providing individuals with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in their chosen field. For individuals with an English literature degree, continuing education offers numerous options for further development and advancement. Here are some great choices for continuing education:

  1. Graduate Programs: Exploring a master’s or doctoral degree in English literature can provide individuals with in-depth knowledge and specialization in a particular area of interest.
  2. Professional Development Courses: Enrolling in courses or workshops focused on writing, editing, or literary analysis can enhance skills and keep individuals updated with the latest trends in the field.
  3. Literary Conferences and Seminars: Attending conferences and seminars enables individuals to network with professionals in the field, gain insights into new research, and participate in scholarly discussions.
  4. Online Courses and Webinars: Online platforms offer a wide range of courses on various aspects of English literature, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace and convenience.
  5. Teaching Certifications: Obtaining teaching certifications can open doors to opportunities in academia or as an English tutor.

Importantly, pursuing a master’s degree in English literature can yield great benefits. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a master’s degree in English literature earn, on average, 20% more than those with just a bachelor’s degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an English literature degree?

An English literature degree provides a wide range of career opportunities. Graduates can pursue careers in journalism, teaching, marketing, law, and various other industries. The degree develops skills in reading, analyzing, and discussing written works, as well as producing powerful writing and presentations.

What are some specific job options for English literature graduates?

English literature graduates can explore various job options such as journalist, copywriter, teacher, paralegal, marketing executive, editor, museum curator, freelance writer, librarian, publisher, web editor, author, social media manager, and PR manager. Other industries that value strong communication and written English skills include media, advertising, law, retail, and leisure.

How can an English literature degree help in the media and publishing industries?

In the media sector, English graduates can work in film, television, newspapers, blogs, advertising, PR, and gaming. In publishing, they can find roles in administration, production, editorial, marketing, PR, and sales. Experience in the industry, a self-published blog, and knowledge of print and digital publishing trends are beneficial.

What opportunities are there in teaching and academia for English literature graduates?

English literature graduates can pursue careers in teaching at primary, secondary, or university levels. Teaching experience, work with children and young adults, and contributions to research projects can enhance employability. They can also opt for academia and become English professors or pursue graduate degrees for further specialization.

Are there remote work options available for English literature graduates?

Yes, many English-related careers allow for remote work, eliminating the need for relocation. With comprehensive written and spoken communication skills, graduates can work remotely in fields such as writing, editing, tutoring, and more. They can also work in media, advertising, PR, or other industries that value their skills.

How can English literature graduates enhance their employability?

English literature graduates can enhance their employability by building a strong online presence through social media, maintaining a media blog or portfolio, and gaining relevant work experience through internships or freelance projects. Supplemental training in technology savvy, research roles, marketing, or other specialized areas can also be beneficial.

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