Too often the career options of English Language and Literature graduates are seen as limited outside academic world. Of course, further study and teaching are popular choices, but they are not the only ones. In fact, an English degree is a clear demonstration of effective research skills, understanding complex ideas and strong communication abilities which can be applied to any role that doesn’t require a specific degree, or offers the necessary professional training to all starters. Below are some job ideas followed by details of those further study and teaching options.
Many graduates who complete an English Language or Literature degree start their careers in the media as some form of journalist. If you’ve worked on a student paper, completed work experience on a publication or had any form of writing published, ensure it stands out on your CV and try to have copies available to show to prospective employers. You may have to apply for an unpaid internship role or complete a trial period before being hired, then start training such as the industry-standard National Council for the Training of Journalists professional qualification.
Whether it’s working on a newspaper, for a magazine or website, you may have to start in a general role before specialising, just be sure to get involved in whatever interests you most as often as you can so you can build up a portfolio for when you do try for a job in the area you really want.
Publishing is another popular career choice for English graduates, all based around an understanding of the language and its marketable presentation – the selecting, reviewing and arranging of material for publication. It includes managing the various stages of production, however graduates normally start in the editorial section as assistants or copy editors which normally offer clear paths into more senior roles.
You could finally put all those hours in the library to good use on your CV. Given your strong research skills gained in your degree, you are suitable for a researching role. Working behind the scenes on television or radio programmes to provide background information can be a very rewarding first career move. Alternatively, if you prefer to be the person on the other side of the loans desk after three years of relying on them yourself, an English degree is appropriate for a librarian role.
You’re well placed to go into a whole range of large industries too. Surprisingly, the largest percentage of the 2010 English graduates - 22.3 percent - were working in the retail and services industry six months after graduation. Other common industries English graduates choose include administration, advertising, marketing, media, PR and sales. Such positions will normally only require a 2.1 degree for the majority of vacancies. Professional careers such as accountancy, banking and law will also take on English graduates with on-the-job training used to develop the key skills you will need. Be prepared to put in a lot of study – some courses take several years to complete.
If you do choose to go down the teaching route as 7.5 percent of the 2010 English graduates did, further study will be required. A Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)or similar training scheme will set you up for teaching in schools, but to work in further education you will need to move on to a Masters and, most likely, a PhD. You may not be restricted to only teaching English though, you may find a range of subjects are available depending on any other qualifications you have and the grounding you need in a particular subject.
Figures are taken from the 2011 edition of "What Do Graduates Do?".