What can I do with... an English degree?

What can I do with... an English degree?

Should we compare your writing to a summer’s day? If you’re an English or English lit grad, you’re probably a master of the written language – but what jobs can you get? Here are 10 ideas worthy of your talents

USE THE POWER OF WORDS TO FIND A JOB

Should we compare your writing to a summer’s day? If you’re an English or English lit grad, you’re probably a master of the written language – but what about landing a job? Here are 10 ideas worthy of your talents…

Advertising Copywriter

Could you dream up clever slogans? If you’re always unleashing comic zingers or wicked one-liners, the role of copywriter could be waiting for you. Copywriters hold the pen behind catchy tag lines and write the words that grab people’s interest in a product. They also help to pitch ideas to clients – and even sign up actors to front their campaigns. 

What’s it worth? Entry-level copywriters can expect to take home around £19,000 – £25,000 per year. If you get to work on big campaigns or earn a senior role in a large media company you can earn £100,000 or more. 

Interested? While there are plenty of advertising degrees out there, lots of English grads go into advertising and marketing – especially areas like copywriting. You can, of course, opt to do a shorter specialist course in copywriting or art direction too. 

Check out the copywriter role page for more information.

Librarian

Who knows the literary world better than you? Use that knowledge to inspire a whole new generation to love books as much as you do. Librarians work in libraries, keeping the books and magazines in order and overseeing the day to day running of all the library’s services. 

What’s it worth? Your salary will depend on the type of library you work at. Usually new librarians earn somewhere between £21,056 and £23,300 a year, with chartered librarians earning around £25,004 to £32,729. Senior positions, such as head of service, can earn more than £49,000. 

Interested? You can get your foot in the door as a library assistant – and do some work-based training. Or you can study for a postgraduate qualification in information management, so long as it’s accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). 

See the Librarian role page for full details.

Author

You’ve studied other people’s writing, but how’s yours? Could you create your own characters like Harry Potter or Edward Cullen? Authors write everything from novels, short stories and children’s books to non-fiction books such as biographies or books about different topics like music or sport. 

What’s it worth? Authors usually agree a set fee for each piece of work or get what are known as royalties (a percentage of the sales, which is common in book publishing). There aren’t any agreements between writers and publishers (the way there are for actors, for example) so the Writers' Guild doesn’t negotiate rates of payment for book writers. 

Interested? If you’re writing fiction, you’ll usually need to find an agent to market it to publishers – there are lists of agents in The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. For other types of books you can approach publishers directly. What’s important is contacting the right publishers for that topic. 

Explore the role page to find out more about becoming an author.

Copywriter

Can you make words come alive and jump off a page? The words you are reading right now make up text called ‘copy’, which is what a copywriter produces for a client. Copywriters produce clear and persuasive copy designed to grab people’s attention and make them stop and think. 

What’s it worth? Salaries vary greatly depending on whether you are employed or self-employed. They can start at around £18,000 and just go up and up from there. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) recommends rates between £270 and £550 per day depending on what type of company you write for. 

Interested? You’ll need to make a portfolio of things you have written. It’s important that you can show examples of your work – even if it’s stuff for the university newsletter. 

Want more? Check out the copywriter role page

Bid Editor

Could you use your writing prowess to wow new customers with dazzling proposals for brave and stylish new projects? Bid editors sell ideas and put together persuasive pitches to convince companies to use a service. These contracts are worth millions (sometimes billions!) of pounds – so the bid is incredibly important. 

What’s it worth? A typical salary for a bid editor is between £27,000 and £40,000, depending on your experience and the size (budget) of the projects you are pitching for 

Interested? Once you’ve graduated from uni, start looking for entry-level editorial roles – particularly ones related to business or construction – and you’ll soon start building up the experience you need to apply for a job as a bid editor. It will also help if you can get some desktop publishing (DTP) knowledge or experience. 

Solicitor

Could you persuade a jury and stop a wrongly accused person from going to jail? Solicitors advise clients on matters to do with the law so that they’re represented as fairly as possible. 

A solicitor is a type of lawyer and usually works for a practice of solicitors (like Eversheds) as a ‘partner’. Most solicitors specialise in a particular area of law like family or tax.  

What’s it worth? The starting salary for trainee solicitors is usually £16,650 depending on where you work. Once qualified, solicitor salaries can rise to between £25,000 and £70,000 a year, depending on experience and the type of employer. Salaries for partners in large firms or heads of in-house legal departments can reach £100,000 a year or more.

Interested? There’s lots of reading and writing involved in law – perfect for English grads! You’ll need to do what’s called a law conversion course first – known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – then complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which usually takes a year. Finally, you’ll need to complete a two-year training contract (this is a work-based programme with a law firm).  

Find out more in our Solicitor role page in Legal World

Magazine Journalist

Want to write about your favourite actress or the latest trends in fashion? Magazine journalists, or feature writers as they're also called, come up with ideas and suggest (pitch) these to the editor before researching the features and writing them up. They also liaise with photographers and the design team to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction on a story.  

What’s it worth? Journalist salaries start from between £18,000 to £25,000 a year. With time and experience you can earn up to £35,000 a year and beyond. 

Interested? A great way in is to start as an editorial assistant for a magazine publisher and work your way up – in which case making contacts is important.  

Our magazine journalist role page has more advice for aspiring journalists. Don’t forget to check out the other roles in Publishing and Consumer Media as well.

Screenwriter

Want to write the lines in your favourite TV show? A screenwriter writes the scripts that bring stories and characters to life on stage and screen. They take a project from script to screen, coming up with thrilling plot twists and rib-tickling jokes to entertain the audience and also pitch their work to directors and producers.  

What’s it worth? The income can vary wildly! You get a small fee for an independently funded piece but you could snag a percentage of the profits when your work is turned into a major motion picture. As a freelance writer, you or your agent would negotiate a fee for each piece of work. You might be partly paid in advance. 

Interested? If you didn’t opt for a creative writing module or a screenwriting module as part of your degree, fear not – there are plenty of courses in creative writing and screenwriting available across the UK. Creative Skillset has lists of short courses and competitions you can enter, too. You could also join a writing group like Euroscript or The Script Factory to pick up tips and bounce around ideas. 

Interested? Check out the screenwriter role page for more info.

PR / Press

Public relations officers (also known as PRs) make sure the public’s perception of a company is as shiny as possible. They’re the ones who add the stardust and panache to products, organising campaigns to promote products and liaise with clients. Work varies from promoting greater knowledge of a very small company to taking a big brand overseas. 

What’s it worth? You can expect to earn around £16,000 when you start in the industry. However, if you make it to accounts director or run your own business you can be bringing home £80,000 or more. 

Interested? There are many ways into PR. You can top up your existing writing knowledge with a postgraduate degree in PR, or even start at the bottom of a PR company and work your way up. 

Read all about PR Officers in our Sales and Marketing Career World

 

Teacher

Being able to communicate ideas clearly makes English students great teachers, especially primary school teachers who have to explain information to younger minds. Primary school teachers teach children the skills they can go on to use later in life like spelling and counting. They also prepare lessons, mark work and talk to parents about how their kids are getting on. 

What’s it worth? When you first start you’ll be earning about £21,000 a year but this will go up every 12 months and you could get up to £30,000. 

Interested? You’ll need experience of working with children first. Assuming you haven’t got any, you can volunteer at a local school or holiday play scheme. Once that’s under your belt, the qualifications you need to become a teacher are: 

  •       Initial Teacher Training (ITT)
  •       Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) 

Learn about becoming a teacher in our Schools, Colleges and Universities world

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