What Can You Do With An English Literature Degree?

So where exactly can an English literature degree take you? Here are some interesting statistics for English graduates. Recently, I conducted an online survey where I asked students of English literature and linguistics about their career aspirations. More than 400 students participated in the survey. The responses that I got were both interesting, and surprising. Here, have a look for yourself.

Out of the 400 students,

52% answered: “I’m gonna go for CSS”

40% answered: “Lectureship obviously, what else am I to do with an English degree?”

5% answered: “Umm I’m not quite sure. Will see when the time comes.”

2% answered: “Pakistan is doomed. I’m gonna try my luck abroad.”

1% answered: “I’m probably gonna start my own business.”

I never understood why we have confined an English degree only to CSS or Lectureship. It seems like a common perception that an English degree is only useful in these two domains and apart from these, an English graduate is good for nothing.

Well I’m here to tell you that this is far from reality. A degree in English actually opens up plenty of opportunities for you across multiple, diverse industries. Generally speaking, you can go for any career that requires excellent communication skills.

Some Prominent Careers for English Graduates:

Here are just some of the industries that will remain evergreen for English graduates. This is a brief list and there are actually numerous other fields where English graduates can find a prosperous career.

Journalism and Media:

This is a fast-paced and dynamic industry and your English degree can be of great use if you choose to pursue a career in journalism. This industry encompasses everything from television to newspapers to magazines and everything in between. Excellent communication skills are a must-have to enter this field, and that’s where your English degree gives you an edge.

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Freelancing:

This, in my opinion, is the most promising and thriving career path that an English graduate can pursue in this age. This holds particularly true for a country like Pakistan, where there are roughly more than 6 million unemployed individuals. Freelancing relieves you from the heart-aching experience of looking for jobs, and facing constant denial. The digital market is growing rapidly and freelancing is very likely to become the future of how we perceive and pursue our careers. More and more people from developing countries, including Pakistan, are turning towards freelancing.

I will soon be posting detailed tutorials (based on firsthand knowledge) on how you can successfully launch your career as a professional freelancer and earn a decent living while working from the leisure and comfort of your home. In the mean time, you can have a look at some of the areas that you can work in as a freelancer.

  1. Article and blog writing
  2. Content Writing (content refers to all the text that you see on a website)
  3. Editing and proofreading
  4. Academic Writing (essays, thesis, research papers)
  5. Creative Writing (short stories, novels, lyrics)
  6. Teaching English Online (e.g. literature/linguistics/writing skills, accent, conversation)
  7. Blogging
  8. Technical Writing (technical documentation, user manuals)
  9. CV and resume writing
  10. Copywriting (writing that serves a marketing purpose)
  11. Legal Writing (writing that requires a knowledge of legal affairs)

Advertising and Marketing:

Perhaps you thought these industries are only to be pursued by students of business administration and marketing; however, that is really not the case. There is a high demand for English graduates in the marketing and advertisement sector. You might be wondering why.

Well, advertising and marketing have a lot to do with words, and who do you think could be more playful with words than an English graduate? It is obvious that for an advertisement campaign where the audience is meant to be attracted and lured, an English graduate can perform exceptionally well since he knows his way with words. All you’ll need to do is gain some basic knowledge of marketing principles, and you’re all set to start alluring people with your captivating words.

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Become an Author:

Well who said you necessarily need to work for someone? Enter this industry and be your own boss. If you have a flair for creative writing, you can launch your career as a writer. You can earn a decent living by publishing your creative works such as stories, dramas, and novels.

It is worth mentioning here that with the advent of technology, the priorities and habits of people have dramatically changed. More and more people are turning to eBooks rather than traditional books. They prefer reading news on their social media accounts rather than buying and reading a newspaper.

What this means for you as a writer is that you also need to follow the trend and become a ‘digital author’. Instead of books, you’ll be writing ‘eBooks’, the electronic version of traditional books. They’re always in demand and you can go for either fiction or nonfiction. If you are able to write something that people like to read, you can actually become a millionaire just by writing eBooks and selling them on the Kindle marketplace. There are countless people who pursue this as a sole career and make some serious money.

Public Relations:

Public relations is another major industry that graciously welcomes English graduates. You can join either the public sector or the private sector in the public relations industry.

As you can tell from the name, the public relations department is responsible for maintaining the relation between a company and the public. These jobs mostly comprise of writing press releases, letters, brochures, newsletters, and content for publishing on social media accounts.

Excellent communication skills are a must have and that’s why English graduates are often preferred for these jobs.

Jobs in United Nations:

The United Nations operates globally and English is one of its official languages. It has specialized departments for translations and communications to which only individuals with a high level of English proficiency can apply. With a major in English, you have bright chances of landing a job with the UN. Keep your eyes out for advertisements of UN job openings in the newspapers. UN offers excellent privileges to its employees that in some cases; even surpass those offered by CSS.

Some Other Industries for English Graduates:

  • Airlines
  • Embassies
  • Publishing Companies
  • Libraries
  • Lexicography
  • Translation Companies
  • NGOs

This is just a brief list of potential careers for English graduates. There are many other areas that are always looking for individuals with strong communication and creative skills.

I’ll wrap up this article with a friendly advice. No matter what your career aspirations are, it’s best to make up your mind ahead of time and work on your skillset accordingly. An English degree can lead you to a promising career but it’s important that you have a clear idea of “where” you want to go.

If you need help with your literature studies and have any questions, you can join our forum to ask your questions.

8 thoughts on “What Can You Do With An English Literature Degree?”

  1. Thanks a lot!
    I was wondering about the answers. I had been thinking,” What if I get my English Degree?”,”What is the scope?”-ONLY CSS?, and so much so. Fortunately, this brief and comprehensive context has washed up the specks of my mind. In short, I am thankful for the efforts of the writer!

  2. What an opportunity have a student of English literature! I’m surprise!
    Thanks for this type of helpful article.

  3. People, what the hell is CSS? I wish people — expecially folks who spent considerable time acquring a degree in the English discipline — would be more thoughtful of their audience. This format works: What the hell is the CF (Canadian Forces)? Now every reader knows! Thank you for reading.

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