20 Careers You Can Pursue with an English Literature Degree

Illustration of a woman next to Big Ben an oversized book, a tea cup and a mortar board

A degree in English literature can open numerous doors for you – unlike popular belief. Indeed, there’s a long list of transferable skills that English literature graduates can boast to potential employers, including sharp analytical and research skills, tactful communication, as well as independence.

So, if you’re tired of being asked the same old questions by your relatives (think: ‘Are you going to be a teacher?’ and ‘What exactly can you do with an English degree?’) and you’re still not sure what profession to follow after university, you’ve come to the right place for inspiration.

Here are 20 careers you can pursue with an English language degree!

1. Teacher

Average salary: £30,300

While teaching is definitely not the only career option for English literature graduates, it’s a viable and common path that many choose to take. But teaching is not one-dimensional; for example, you could work with young children as an elementary school teacher or with teens as a high school teacher. Alternatively, you could teach English as a second language to adults or young learners – and travel the world while you’re at it.

If this is something you want to pursue, consider applying for a master’s degree in education or official teacher training courses so you can secure your qualified teacher status (QTS). You could also look into TESOL courses such as CELTA and TEFL.

2. Professor and lecturer

Average salary: £69,590

If you’re passionate about academia, then why not build a career within it? Whether you want to study the linguistic patterns of English, research literary styles, explore radical critical theories or focus on postmodern poetry, you can do so by completing a master’s and a PhD in any of these areas.

After that, you can work as a professor and lecturer in different universities, colleges and educational establishments while undertaking research and teaching subjects you’re truly passionate about.

3. Digital copywriter

Average salary: £24,650

If you have a way with words, copywriting could be a good profession for you.

Copywriters are a valuable asset for companies. Their job requires them to produce persuasive and eye-catching copy that can boost the visibility of a business or a product.

But coming up with catchy content isn’t all there is to this role. Indeed, copywriters are required to conduct thorough research, find statistics and interview experts before putting pen on paper. As for the content, it can range from blog posts to social media captions and magazine copy.

4. Technical writer

Average salary: £31,360

Technical writing involves putting together technical manuals, instructional guides and reports. If you enjoy writing but are more of a rational thinker without a creative flair, this could be a good match for you!

Sectors such as manufacturing, IT, engineering, biotech and finance need technical writers to present information in a clear, constructive and unambiguous manner while employing user-friendly language. Your work may also span from briefs, press releases and policies.

5. Paralegal

Average salary: £19,530

Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting research, drafting and filling court documents, reading up on past cases, and putting together legal briefs. Their role is crucial to the success of any legal case.

If you’re interested in the legal sector, this could be a great career option for you. Depending on your location, you may need to complete a paralegal accreditation programme or an apprenticeship which will give you the foundations to pursue this path.

6. Journalist

Average salary: £24,260

As an English lit graduate, critical thinking, communication and writing are the Holy Grail of your transferable skills. These also happen to be essential assets for a career in journalism.

Your options here are quite diverse: you could be a print reporter, a broadcaster for a news agency, a staffer for an online magazine or a columnist for a local newspaper. There’s also plenty of entry points in this career: you could do a master’s, complete an internship or land an entry-level role before climbing up the ladder.

7. Web editor and content manager

Average salary: £29,040

Remember those transferable skills I just mentioned? Editing and proofreading should also hold a prime spot on your list.

As a web editor and content manager, you will be responsible for the written and visual content produced and shared by companies. This often involves working with SEO tools to drive traffic to the website, monitoring the performance of content and planning a detailed content strategy.

8. Tutor

Average hourly rate: £16

As a tutor, your main objective should be to use your expertise to guide your students and help them achieve academic success. Your tutees could range from elementary school kids and university students to learners with learning difficulties and even adults who are interested in expanding their knowledge in a particular area of study.

A significant advantage to tutoring is that it comes with a lot of flexibility, too. You could offer tutoring sessions online and at home, or work for a school or an academic institution.

9. Copyeditor

Average salary: £25,140

If you have a knack for grammar and a sharp eye for detail, you can use these skills as a professional advantage. Copyeditors are responsible for checking written documents for errors, including syntax, grammar and punctuation, as well as the clarity and style of a text.

To do this job, you need to be able to catch any inconsistencies, repetition and factually incorrect statements through meticulous reading and research.

10. Publisher

Average salary: £28,260

If your dream is to work within publishing, then there are various roles you could pursue, including that of a literary agent, a production editor or a publisher. The latter lies in the top tier of the industry and involves overseeing the editing, design and production of books and manuscripts.

To earn yourself the publisher title, you need to climb your way up, usually from an intern position to a permanent role within a publishing company.

11. Lexicographer

Average salary: N/A

As an English literature graduate, you’ll understand the impact a single word can have on a text, speech or conversation. Lexicographers research new words and are responsible for upkeeping and putting together dictionaries.

As time goes by, new expressions become part of mainstream speech, lexicography ensures that the origins, usages and meanings of these words are documented.

Among their other duties, lexicographers are the ones who get to define new words, ensuring that their descriptions are both accurate and current.

A typical day in the life of a lexicographer involves working in an office, researching, editing and proofreading material.

12. Editorial assistant

Average salary: £19,800

Editorial assistants can work within various fields, including book publishing, newspapers and magazines, digital media sites, and corporate companies. While the material you will be editing and assisting with may vary across these sectors, you will generally be required to research various topics, proofread texts and support editorial staff with other tasks.

While this may be considered as an entry-level role, it’s a great way to break into these industries and work your way up to other roles.

13. Administrator

Average salary: £18,560

Administrators are essential within every company; this role calls for excellent organisational, leadership and communication skills. Your duties will involve answering phone calls and emails, liaising with clients and other staff, arranging appointments, as well as managing departmental budgets.

If you enjoy working within fast-paced office environments but also the interpersonal aspects involved in front-facing positions, this could be viable career path.

14. Education policy analyst

Average salary: £30,490

If you’re passionate about education, then this role could be fitting. As an education policy analyst, your job is to research current educational policies, curriculums and ongoing issues to assess their impact on students and their communities. Your role, then, would allow you to advocate for certain changes that could transform educational standards as well as the student curriculum.

Before you can advance to this position, it’s essential to gain experience working within schools first. It may also be advisable to pursue a postgraduate degree in public policy or education.

15. PR manager

Average salary: £32,660

A PR manager’s job can take them from NGOs to universities and large corporations to government agencies. Their work revolves around creating and maintaining a good public image for their employer through conferences, interviews and social media.

To do that, you need to be a creative individual with excellent communication skills which you can use to act as the representative of your company.

16. Academic librarian

Average salary: £19,200

Ask an English literature graduate what their ideal job would be, and a lot of the times you’ll get a similar response: something to do with books.

Working as a librarian, however, involves a lot more than book shelving and book stamping. Indeed, academic librarians offer general and subject-specific research help. Not only that, but they’re also responsible for expanding and managing book collections, contributing to academic course developments and organising library resources.

17. Freelance writer

Average hourly rate: £15

Freelance writing is pretty much the Joker card of writing careers. You could be drafting a marketing email one day and writing a book brief the next.

The flexibility that comes with this option, as well as the diversity of tasks, makes it a more open path for many, especially if you’re just starting out and you’re undecided on the path you want to pursue. This way, you can gain experience while trying your hand in different fields, including digital marketing, journalism and advertising.

18. Advertising manager

Average salary: £30,970

While this isn’t a role you can land right after graduation, it could be one that you can aspire to and work towards. Plus, it’s one of the highest-paying marketing jobs at the moment.

As an advertising manager, you will be in charge of your clients’ advertising campaigns, overseeing every medium including print, socials, TV and online ads. You also get to come up with effective brand strategies to increase visibility, approve content before publication and lead an entire team of staff.

19. Translator

Average salary: £23,180

If you’re bilingual, you could use your language skills to translate written and oral material. It’s important that you’re equally fluent in both languages, however, as you need to ensure that your translated work preserves the meaning of the original text.

From books to movie subtitles and articles to videos, you could work with diverse mediums and use your English literature knowledge as a competitive advantage – having a specialty is always a plus.

20. Social media manager

Average salary: £25,700

Do you know everything there is to know about social media? Working as a social media manager is a versatile and challenging job. It’s also one of the fastest-growing careers out there, with nearly every company now employing professionals to increase their social media presence and boost their brand visibility online.

Not only do you need to curate your employer’s online profile, but you’re also in charge of strategising social media campaigns, orchestrating the content production and engaging with your online audience.

Whether you already know the career path you want to follow or you’re still undecided, you’ve got time. You can try your hand in different industries, attain new skills and build your work experience before you embark on a steady career journey.

Here’s a small tip: use this time to expand your professional connections, develop your portfolio and explore areas you’re truly passionate about.

Which of these careers are you leaning towards? Join the conversation in the comments section below!