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Careers for Literature Majors

Updated on May 1, 2013
There may not be much variety in careers for literature majors, but, there is plenty of opportunity out there.
There may not be much variety in careers for literature majors, but, there is plenty of opportunity out there. | Source

Jobs for People With an English Degree

Careers for literature majors can be hard to come by, especially when you have no idea what to do with that degree of yours once you finally graduate. While I was studying English literature and even after graduating, I was always asked if I decided to get into that area of study because I wanted to be a teacher. Unfortunately, the answer to this career choice suggestion has always been no.

For many of my fellow literature majors, the question of what careers are out there for literature majors was frustrating enough to start class discussions on a regular basis in which the professor was asked "do we even have any other option with this degree?" To my knowledge, they never said no.

As frustrating as this question can be, it is not surprising considering how common it is for those with degrees in English to go on to to have careers as professors or high school teachers, although this usually does not happen with just a bachelors in English. For me, I studied literature because I enjoyed it, with the hope that one day it would get me into a career related to what I love.

For those English majors out there who are just like me, do not lose hope, even though you may be stuck without a job for some time after finishing school. You may be surprised to learn just what kinds of careers literature majors can have outside of education. The jobs are not always closely related to literature but the skills you gained and honed in your studies are pretty handy and desired by many employers out there.

Of course, most literature majors hope to have a career working with books, and make good money doing it!
Of course, most literature majors hope to have a career working with books, and make good money doing it! | Source

Literature Majors

We "lit nerds" sometimes forget how valuable a skill reading really is. As a literature major, one of the basic skills that you have that not all other majors do is your ability to read complicated materials and fully understand them enough to write about them, question them, talk about them, or even argue with them. Furthermore, you have been taught how to take that reading and write about it. Our near-perfect grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax are all what make us ideal for careers that are really looking for someone who can communicate effectively through writing.

It is not very common knowledge that our written skills go hand in hand with plenty of oral communication skills. However, class discussions and presentations make it necessary for literature students to convey ideas verbally. Being able to speak clearly, especially about a complex idea, can also be an ideal trait that an employer is looking for.

Another major skill learned in the study of literature is the ability to analyze text. This ability is why many literature majors go on to careers in law, strategic consulting, and other fields that involve a lot of analytical work. Not everyone has that experience taking a poem or other literary piece and dissecting it, looking at tone, diction, and other aspects that many would just glance over.

Jobs for English Majors

Overall, it is not quite so easy for literature majors to find a career of their dreams, unless you are looking at a teaching position. Even so, success for those with a degree in literature does not usually come unless they go through even more schooling past a bachelors degree. However, acknowledging the skills that you have learned through your studies and showing these off at your next interview may be key for you landing that next employment opportunity.

On top of the skills listed above that every English literature major can expect to walk away with, employers like hiring us because of our flexibility and intelligence. This means that literature majors are capable and willing to learn new tasks, whether they utilize what they learned in their studies or not. It also means that you are not likely to get into something related to English literature, so do not be afraid to open yourself up to career paths you may not have considered before.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of career paths one can get into with a degree in literature:

  • Book editing and publishing
  • Work at museums and art galleries
  • Advertising/Public Relations
  • Social Services
  • Law
  • Writing
  • Government
  • Human Resources

Personally, I finally nailed a career in escrow. I may not have ever pictured myself reading through purchase and sale agreements for the rest of my life as I studied Gothic literature and the rise of the novel during my university days, but, it utilizes some of the skills I gained as a literature major and it is a great career to be in.

Good luck lit nerds! Please feel free to share in the careers your literature major has gotten you in so that you can help those who are still in school who may not have any idea where this degree will get them.

© 2012 LisaKoski


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