What can I do with my English degree?

When it comes to using your English degree, communication is key…

Whether you studied language, literature or linguistics, an English degree is a surprisingly universal qualification to have, and could benefit you in a range of career paths – from writing and editing, to teaching and law. You just need to know how to use it to its full potential.

To make sure you know what’s out there, here’s what you can actually do with your English degree:


Jobs you can do with an English degree

Copywriter – Copywriters are responsible for generating and editing written content, which could be used in anything from press releases, emails, and articles, to brochures, product descriptions, and more.

How to get there: If you’re lacking in practical experience, working on a freelance basis (e.g. as a Journalist) and/or creating your own blog (e.g. travel blogging) is a great way to build up a portfolio and prove your writing abilities. Junior Copywriter roles are also available – and, as many entry-level Marketing Assistant positions also involve elements of copywriting, this is a good place to start too.

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How to become a Copywriter


Forensic Linguist – This role is based around the linguistic analysis of written and verbal evidence, which helps to decipher the correct meaning behind both victim and suspect statements. A Forensic Linguist’s examination could help determine the outcome of a court case.

How to get there: Aside from experience in related fields like psychology and sociology, extensive knowledge of legal procedures is an essential trait for any Forensic Linguist – so taking courses or studying for a postgrad is a great way to stand out from the crowd if you’re struggling to break into this position. Roles such as Social Worker and Psychologist could also help quantify your skills, and show you can effectively analyse how people express their thoughts and feelings through words.

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Editorial Assistant – This position involves supporting an editorial team in the planning and production of content for a range of media. General duties could include anything from writing, proofreading, and researching, to organising projects, calculating costs, and commissioning articles.

How to get there: Many Editorial Assistant roles are entry-level – providing you can demonstrate an interest and experience in writing and editing. If you’re struggling to enter this competitive field, working as an Administrative Assistant or Receptionist in a publishing house or digital media agency could help you to build a useful network of contacts and move up within the industry.

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How to become an Editor


Journalist –Whether it’s by tracking down and interviewing sources, liaising with relevant contacts, or turning their findings into engaging copy – a Journalist’s job is all about keeping the world up-to-date with the most current news and events.  

How to get there: Journalism is a competitive industry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Whether it’s by providing content for your university tabloid or website, working with your local newspaper, or freelancing for the web, building a portfolio of relevant experience is the best way to work your way up and become a Journalist. Industry-specific qualifications alongside your degree will also be beneficial.

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How to become a Journalist


Lexicographer – Lexicographers are responsible for compiling and editing dictionaries, both written and online. They use databases to monitor language uses and meanings, assess the possibility of new entries, and structure definitions accordingly.

How to get there: Employers will primarily look for candidates with an exceptionally strong grasp of the English language, alongside a degree in English. Breaking into the field often involves starting out as an Editorial Assistant or Junior Editor for a dictionary publishing house, where you’ll be able to progress to the position of Lexicographer with experience. Knowledge of other languages and experience as a Translator could also help if you’re looking for work at multilingual dictionaries.

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English Teacher – If you want to use your academic qualifications to teach English – working as a Secondary School Teacher could be the best way to utilise your degree. They work with young people aged 11-18, and are in charge of lesson planning as well as supporting and monitoring the progress of a class of students.

How to get there: In addition to your degree, you’ll need to study for a PGCE to become a Secondary School Teacher. This usually involves work placements that give you the skills and contacts to be better equipped to secure a role after graduating. Working as a Teaching Assistant is also a great way to gain practical experience in the field, making you more attractive to employers.

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How to become a Secondary School Teacher


Other potential roles: Librarian, HR Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Speech Therapist, Writer, PR Officer, Information Officer, Underwriter.


Skills to utilise

No matter what field you want to enter, an English degree will have given you a range of skills and knowledge (primarily in written and verbal communication) – which are transferable in almost any job.

So whether you studied English language, linguistics, or literature, there’s a career path out there to suit you and put your skills to good use.

Here are some key skills to take away from an English degree:

  • Time management
  • Researching
  • Planning
  • Reasoning
  • Analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Effective judgment
  • Organisation
  • Creativity

Further education

If you want to advance your current skills or become a specialist in a particular field (whether it’s related to your degree or not) – studying for additional qualifications is the perfect place to start.

Aside from broadening your skillset, further education could be a great way to progress in your career.

Because when it comes to jobs, the knowledge and skills gained from your English degree will often be combined with related skills that can be learnt from other subjects (e.g. media, marketing, law, psychology).

So whether it’s from taking a course or studying for a postgraduate degree, PGCE, or masters, learning more could make all the difference to what career choices are on offer.


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