English literature careers
The jobs listed below are a selection of those which may interest English Literature students and graduates and offer the opportunity to use your degree directly.
Secondary School Teacher
To teach in state schools (excluding academies and free schools) in England and Wales, you must complete a period of “initial teacher training”, such as a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course or school-centred training, which leads to Qualified Teacher Status. Drama is a popular subject so it is important to build up teaching-related experience during your undergraduate degree and to apply each for teacher training.
As a copy-editor or proofreader you'll ensure that material is clear, consistent, complete and credible, and that text is well written, grammatically correct and accessible.
Prospects job profile: Publishing copy editor / proofreader
Publishers Association: Work in publishing – publishing careers
Journalists research, write and present
stories, features and articles across a range of media platforms – newspapers,
magazines, television, radio and internet. Experience gained in student
journalism will be helpful in breaking into this area.
Target jobs: Journalist
National Council for the Training of Journalist: Journalism career guide
As well as teaching through lectures and seminars, academic staff in
higher education also carry out research and a wide range of administrative and
pastoral tasks. Although a teaching qualification is not required, you will
need a higher degree, normally a PhD. Competition is strong for entry-level
Prospects job profile: Higher education lecturer
Target job profile: Higher education lecturer
Teacher of English as a Foreign Language
English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers help adults and children to learn or improve their English in the UK and in other countries
Prospects job profile: English as a foreign language teacher
Please note that some of these careers may require further study.
You may be interested in graduate roles outside of English Literature. There are many employers who are looking for graduates with good degrees but that do not have a preference for the subject studied. To explore different career options, see:
An English Literature degree may be useful in the following career areas:
Library and information staff manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate
information. In specialist libraries and information units, such as those in
law firms and the Inns of Court or universities, law graduates may be able to
use their subject knowledge directly.
Prospects job profile: Academic librarian
Prospects job profile: Public librarian
Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals: Career support toolkit
An arts administrator manages activities and services which support the arts sector, involving projects and initiatives provided by arts organisations.
Civil Service Fast Streamer
The Civil Service Fast Stream is a leadership development programme for those wanting to become senior leaders within the Civil Service
Prospects job profile: Civil Service Fast Streamer
Read about the 15 different Fast Stream schemes
There are a range of different roles within charities including project management, volunteer co-ordination and fundraising.
Chartered accountants are never limited to one discipline. You can take your career into a diverse range of specialist areas including auditing, taxation, corporate finance, forensic accounting and business recovery.
Prospects job profile: Chartered Accountant
Inside Careers: Chartered Accountancy
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Solicitors take instructions from clients (who may be individuals, groups, public sector organisations or private companies) and provide expert legal support on a range of personal and commercial issues.
Advertising Account Executive (also known as Account Handler; Client Services Executive)
Advertising account executives are the bridge between the client and the agency. Account Executives are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of client accounts within the agency. They need to develop effective working relationships with client contacts. They will get involved with solving problems, drafting internal and external communications, and documenting progress on a variety of agency projects.
Human Resources Officer
Human resources officers develop, advise on and implement policies relating to the effective use of staff in an organisation. Responsibilities include hiring, developing and looking after employees. This involves functions such as training and monitoring performance.
Retail managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of stores or departments. This may involve responsibility for a wide range of business functions, depending on the size of the store and company structure, such as human resources, marketing, logistics, IT, customer service and finance.
You may be interested in graduate roles outside of English Language and Linguistics. There are many employers who are looking for graduates with good degrees but that don’t have a preference for the subject studied. To explore different career options see:
Target Jobs: Information on career sectors
English Literature graduates develop a wide range of skills that are valuable to graduate employers. A graduate in English Literature typically will have the ability to:
Skills specific to English
Graduates who have studied English are able to:
- Read closely and critically
- Analyse texts and discourses, and respond to the affective power of language, using appropriate approaches and terminology
- Develop independent and imaginative interpretations of literary, critical, linguistic or creative material
- Articulate a critical understanding of complex texts and ideas (and of their historical relations where appropriate)
- Write clearly, accurately and effectively
- Apply scholarly bibliographic skills appropriate to the subject.
Generic and graduate skills
Graduates who have studied English are effective researchers, good communicators and active learners. They contribute to society and are highly sought after by employers. They are able to:
- Discover and synthesize complex information and diverse evidence
- Respond creatively and imaginatively to research tasks
- Initiate projects of their own
- Present information within wider contexts
- Test, interpret and analyse information and evidence independently and critically, producing from that analysis cogent arguments and decisive judgements
- Plan, organise and report to deadline.
English graduates possess advanced communication skills. They are able to:
- Articulate their own and other people's ideas concisely, accurately and persuasively both orally and in writing
- Develop working relationships with others in teams, especially through constructive dialogue (for example, by listening, asking and responding to questions)
- Understand the role of narrative and emotion in decision-making
- Be sensitive to cultural contexts when working with others.
English graduates are active, lifelong learners. They are able to:
- Adapt to different demands and tasks
- Appreciate the benefit of giving and receiving feedback
- Evaluate and reflect on their own practices and assumptions
- Look beyond the immediate task to the wider context, including the social and commercial effects of their work
- Initiate and take responsibility for their own work
Source: QAA subject benchmark
Find a job
The Careers and Employability Service provides information and advice on job searching to University of Kent students and recent graduates. This includes a vacancy database advertising a range of graduate jobs, sandwich placements and vacation work/internships. The websites listed below may also be useful when searching for a job and when looking for further information on this sector.
- Arts Council: Job site by Arts Council England, wide ranging – all internships are paid unless part of a further or higher education course
- Arts Hub: Large listing arts and creative jobs including internships and work experience. Jobs bulletin with 100 new listings each week is emailed free to members weekly.
- Arts Job Finder: Part of Arts Professional - Wide range of jobs across the arts sector
- BBC Careers: Includes information on trainee schemes and apprenticeships
- ScreenSkills: The industry skills body for the screen industries, which works across film, television, radio, fashion, animation, games, visual effects, textiles, publishing, advertising and marketing communications.
- The Royal Society for Arts:Guardian Jobs: Arts and Heritage jobs
- Prospects: Employer profiles
- TARGET Jobs: Search employers by name or industry sector
- The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers: As chosen by graduates
You may also find useful reviews and application/interview tips for specific organisations on the following websites:
Postgraduate study may enable you to explore aspects of English Literature in greater depth or to study a new subject.
A postgraduate qualification, either academic or vocational, is required to enter many fields of work related to history, such as archive work, museum work, historical research or teaching. If you are interested in other careers, some of these, such as law, will require study for a relevant professional qualification while in some others, such as journalism, a postgraduate degree is not a requirement, but may be an advantage. However, many careers will not require further academic qualifications.
The “Types of Jobs” section of the Prospects website will tell you whether postgraduate study is essential, useful or not needed for a specific career.
Looking for Careers Advice?
The Careers and Employability Service is open to all University of Kent students and recent graduates. We support students from the moment they start their course, throughout their student life and up to three years after their graduation.