What can I do with a Humanities Degree?

What skills have I gained on my course?

Humanities graduates are attractive to many employers because of their personal transferable skills rather than the specific skills that they have gained during their degree course. Many of the skills that are gained on a humanities degree are highly sought after in almost every job. These skills include:



Start your careers planning and jobhunting in good time. Some popular options, such as the Civil Service Fast Stream, require applications to be made very early in your final year. Others, such as law and the media, will look for you to have had appropriate vacation work experience, or to have been involved in the relevant student societies. See our See our Timeline www.kent.ac.uk/careers/timeline.htm to tell you when you need to be doing what.

Where can a humanities degree lead?

You are probably well aware already that your degree is not a vocational one - that, apart from teaching, there are few options open to you that will give you the opportunity to use your subject knowledge directly in a job. Don't let this worry you - the options available to you are very wide- ranging with some 40% of advertised graduate vacancies open to graduates in any subject. These range from health and social welfare occupations to commercial, professional and managerial jobs, such as chartered accountant and marketing manager. Graduates have also entered administration, information work, sales, teaching and the media. You will find a full list of jobs open to Humanities graduates at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careermap.htm  

Use Prospects Planner www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner a powerful program to help you choose a graduate career.

Postgraduate Study

About 12% of Kent Humanities graduates have gone on to postgraduate study for a PhD or Masters degree in recent years. It should be remembered though that postgraduate study is not an easy option and research for a PhD will require dedication and determination to see things through over a period of 3 or more years. Study for a Masters or PhD in Humanities subjects is usually pursued either as a preparation for an academic career or out of pure interest in, or love of the subject: by itself, such study is unlikely to significantly improve career prospects outside the academic field.

Funding is not always easy to obtain - the bulk of studentships in the Humanities are awarded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council but competition for these is intense. Occasionally, universities may offer their own postgraduate studentships or teaching assistantships, but these too are very competitive.

Humanities graduates can also take vocational courses, usually lasting one academic year and designed as a preparation for a specific career. Teaching is an obvious example, but other courses can lead into careers in law, personnel, marketing, journalism or computing. Many are designed as "conversion courses", requiring no previous knowledge of the subject. Postgraduate secretarial courses also come under this heading, and these can sometimes be a back-door route into those highly competitive media careers.

See Postgraduate Study www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgrad.htm

"Humanities graduates are in demand in the business world for their critical writing and thinking skills."

Teacher Training

About 11% of University of Kent Humanities graduates have entered teacher training in recent years. The PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is the standard one-year, full-time route into teaching taken by the majority of graduates. Teacher training is no longer a "soft option" - experience of working with children and observing in schools is now required by almost all colleges.

Competition is strong for places on all primary-level courses and for secondary-level courses in Humanities subjects - ideally apply in September or October of your final year. If your degree is not in a mainstream National Curriculum subject, check its relevance to PGCE courses: and don't forget that you must have GCSE (or equivalent qualifications) in Maths and English before starting a PGCE.

See our teaching pages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/siteach.htm

The Media (Publishing, Journalism, TV, Radio, Film, Drama and Music)

is the most popular career area for Arts graduates. To be successful you need to gain and be able to show evidence of relevant practical skills (writing for INQUIRE, Kent Radio, Film Making Society, word-processing skills etc.) - take action well before your final year.  Many jobs in the media are not advertised - organisations get enough CVs from people applying speculatively to be able to fill their vacancies from these. You need to be prepared to chase employers - you must take the initiative by visiting them. See our Media Careers Page for lots of help on how to get into these careers.

Other jobs


Taking a year out to travel is a popular option now, but remember that you still have to find a job when you return! Remember too that you won't be able to attend interviews in the UK when abroad, so you may have to start jobhunting from scratch when you get home. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/alternatives.htm

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a popular option and still relatively easy to get, although you would be wise to get the RSA Certificate in TEFL as this will make the better jobs available - it can be done in one month. The JET scheme each year takes about three hundred or more British graduates to Japan to teach English for one or two years and pays well -it is usually advertised in November each year with a closing date is usually about early December. There is a video in the Careers Service about JET. 


See our Vacation Work Web Pages and our vacancy database which includes vacation opportunities


Last fully updated 2012