If you’re studying English literature, you might be sick of people asking what sort of job you’re going to do once you graduate. Most people seem to think that English Literature is just reading, reading, and more reading, but there’s so much more to it. In fact, English Lit opens so many doors and teaches transferable skills, for example: analytical skills, essay writing, researching, and knowledge of historical context. If you’re wondering what you can do with an English Literature degree, this guide will give you some ideas.

Literary Agent

Literary Agent, What can I do with an English Literature degree?
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Average salary: £20 to £50k depending on if you’re working freelance or for a literary agency

Hours: 40

Literary agents are responsible for finding new literary talent. They read manuscripts, liaise with clients, send rejection emails, manage publishing rights, and negotiate book deals and contracts. When literary agents sign with a writer, they are agreeing to guide the writer through the publishing process, and they will often work closely with an editor. Some of the top UK literary agencies include the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, the Eve White Literary Agency, and Peters Fraser and Dunlop (PFD).


Editor, What can I do with an English Literature degree?
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Average salary: £26k to £42k

Hours: 40

There are many different kinds of editor. You might want to try editing fictional novels, creative non-fiction, news articles, or academic essays. But whatever you choose, you’ll need excellent English language skills and the ability to spot tiny errors in huge texts, like pesky commas being out of place. As a fiction editor, you might also be responsible for providing suggestions on the overall plot, structure, and charactarisation.


Copywriter, What can I do with an English Literature degree?
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Average junior copywriter salary: £20k to £25k Average salary for copywriters with three years experience: £25k to £50k

Hours: 40

Copywriters are responsible for writing concise copy for marketing ads and websites across a range of industries, for all kinds of audiences. On a daily basis, they research keywords and popular trends, write engaging content, and proofread and edit their work. They must clearly and positively represent their client’s brand to ensure sales or views. Due to this, copywriters must be aware of how to market content to their target audiences.


Ghostwrite, jobs with an English Literature degree
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Average salary: ranges from £20k to £70k depending on experience and if you’re working freelance or for a ghostwriting service

Hours: 40

A ghostwriter is responsible for writing a text that is then credited to someone else. These texts include fictional novels, non-fiction books, speeches, journalistic work, and online content. Ghostwriters must work closely with their clients to ensure the written work fits the client’s brief and outline. Some ghostwriters work with the author to create the outline of the text, whereas some are given in-depth outlines to work from. As a ghostwriter, you’ll spend most of your time writing and proofreading your work. You’ll need good time management skills in order to meet your client’s deadlines.

Academic Researcher

Academic Researcher Jobs with an English Literature degree
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Average postdoctoral salary: £27k to £39k

Average lecturer salary: £43k to £58k

Hours: 35

If you’re interested in furthering the topics that you studied at university, an academic researcher role might be right for you. Academic researchers spend a lot of time researching content in order to uncover new, original information. You may work alone or in a group, and you will almost always be based in a university. You must have excellent analytical skills, which is perfect for English lit students, and you must also be able to work to tight deadlines.


Librarian, jobs with an English Literature degree
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 Graduate trainee salary: £17k to £22k

Assistant librarian salary: £25k to £29k

Senior/deputy librarian salary: £37k to £55k, rising to £63k for directors

Hours: 35

Librarians are responsible for acquiring and organising information, books, texts, films and other media. They are important figures in communities, since they provide access to learning, recreation and careers. It is important that librarians have excellent communication skills, as they will need to build relationships with members of the public. Librarians are expected to have good IT skills, as they will often be logging borrowed and returned books in the library system to keep track of texts.


Teacher, What can I do with an English Literature degree
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Secondary school salary: £25k to £36k

Sixth form/college salary: £25k to £42k

Qualifications needed: Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), PGCE

Hours: up to 47 hours a week

Teachers are responsible for preparing lessons according to the set syllabus, delivering lessons, and marking homework and practice exams. They are also responsible for the safety and the behaviour of their students, especially at secondary school level. To be a teacher, you will need a lot of patience considering you’ll be working with large groups children. You’ll also need excellent listening and communication skills to ensure that you’re encouraging students to partake in their learning. Teachers have a huge impact on children; they’re responsible for inspiring them and getting them ready for later life.

University Professor

University Professor What can I do with an English Literature degree?
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Lecturer salary: £40k

Senior lecturer salary: £50k

Professor salary: £60k

Qualifications needed: Masters or PHD

Hours: 40 to 50

You might have grown quite attached to university in your time studying there. If so, you might want to become a lecturer or a professor to pass on your knowledge to the next generation, while also continuing your research in your chosen fields. Many English literature professors specialise in certain topics, for example the medieval period, climate change, or creative writing. As a professor, your responsibilities would include preparing and delivering lectures to large audiences, teaching seminars, making essays and assignments, and you would often be writing your own essays for peer-reviewed journals.

Work Experience

What can I do with an English Literature degree?
Source: Penguin

Since most of these roles require some level of experience, it might be worth thinking about doing an internship or placement scheme over the summer. You can find these on most job recruitment pages like Indeed and Totaljobs. You can also find them on company sites if there’s a specific role that you want to look into. For example, if you’re interested in the publishing industry, check out Penguin’s summer internship programme.

Looking for more career choices? Check out what jobs you can do with a history degree.