English Literature Degree Video: Career Options

English Literature Degree Video: Career Options Transcript

What can you do with a degree in English literature? A better question might be what professions can't be pursued with the degree. Writing is perhaps the work most commonly associated with English, and writer positions do make a significant portion of opportunities available to recent grads. Many people, however, are not aware of the varying capacities in which writers work, nor the many additional occupations English programs can prepare students for.


Earning an English degree opens up excellent options for recent graduates entering the job market. Writers, editors and other English-related positions are used in areas such as advertising, broadcasting, publishing, teaching and journalism. The degree's emphasis on communication skills and analytical abilities make it an ideal choice for those interested in positions where the presentation of words, images and other content matter. Beyond writing and editing professions, those with English backgrounds are employed in virtually every area of business and government to fill roles as communications specialists. New media have also added to the number of opportunities available to English graduates.

Job Skills and Duties

Those who graduate with an English degree may find themselves working in a variety of different capacities. Many professionals work as writers, editors and other content experts crafting information for a specific audience. This information may be delivered through a broad range of media, including print, television, radio and the Internet. In all of these formats the objective is in large part the same: to express ideas and convey knowledge in a way that connects with respective audiences. An individual's area of expertise can vary significantly in this work. For example, writers and other content experts are generally responsible for creating or packaging information, be it material for a newspaper, website, television program or another medium. Editors often check this work, utilizing knowledge of a topic and language to make decisions about how the piece will ultimately appear. Supervisors oversee all of these activities and must exercise sound judgment about what may or may not be appropriate.

Training Required

Those pursuing a degree in English are generally required to read, analyze, and write about works of literature from different historical periods. Coursework within the major requires students to complete conscientious analysis of works, often while synthesizing concepts from other texts. Many classes are writing intensive and require that students demonstrate their ideas and arguments clearly and logically. Many who earn a bachelor's degree continue their studies in master's programs, often to accentuate qualifications in a particular area of study. Doctorate programs are also popular, especially among those in academia and other English-related fields where intense competition exists for the best jobs.

Well Known Jobs Within this Field of Expertise

An English degree can serve as effective preparation for careers in writing, editing and other language-related areas. Responsibilities can vary significantly between positions. Someone working in advertising, for example, may create short pieces of text specifically intended to help sell a product. Writers and editors play a substantial role in broadcasting, their duties ranging from crafting scripts for news programs to conceptualization of entertainment programs. The magazine and book publishing industries employ a vast number of writers and editors, as do companies producing content for the Internet. Many English grads also enter the education profession, teaching at elementary and secondary levels. Other writers and editors avoid the traditional work environment, instead preferring to work on a freelance basis. These professionals often work out of the home. A substantial number of English graduates also pursue corporate or governmental careers in communications specialist roles.


Careers for those with an English degree are diverse. Many enter these professions to follow personal interests in writing, editing or related tasks. For this reason, competition for positions can be quite intense. Those with excellent abilities, however, should experience success in the job market. Qualities helpful to have in pursuing these professions include strong writing communications skills, creativity, problem-solving abilities and close attention to detail.


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