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4 Great Career Options for English Degree Holders

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Table of Contents  
  1. Writer
  2. Lawyer
  3. Librarian
  4. Actor

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English majors get a lot of flak from naysayers, calling their degrees “useless” and “irrelevant”. Tell anyone that you have a degree in Literature or Creative Writing and they’ll give you a sympathetic look and perhaps even a reassuring tap on the shoulder.

It’s time to crush those misconceptions and prove to these unbelievers that English degree holders have a place in this world too.

The old “starving writer/artist” cliché is now long gone, thanks to the ever-changing media landscape. There are more opportunities for English graduates now as traditional media work hand-in-hand with new media in their quest to look for bright, creative minds who have a knack for words. This degree builds a strong academic foundation and a discerning mind in its graduates which are highly prized in fields as diverse as law, publishing, and the arts.

Simply put, English majors are more than just servers of French fries! With an English degree one can go on to become a(n):

become a writer

Writer

They are the storytellers, the dream weavers, the visionaries; they capture your attention with words that seamlessly flow together like water. They take you to other worlds and to different times and eras. The best novels were made by writers. That blockbuster movie that you have seen in the cinema was just once an idea in some writer’s mind. Writers also bring the news to you from all four corners of the world. Ad copywriters, speechwriters, public relations writers; many of these professionals with a “writer” suffix on their job titles were once all English majors.  The demand for these jobs is growing steadily and does pay well in the long run.

The old “starving writer/artist” cliché is now long gone, thanks to the ever-changing media landscape. There are more opportunities for English graduates now as traditional media work hand-in-hand with new media.Click To Tweet

Entry requirements: Writers can come from various disciplines and backgrounds, though those who graduated with English, Communication, and Creative Writing degrees certainly have an edge.    The job does not require any form of professional qualification so aspiring writers can start right away!

Salary expectations: The pay scale for working writers differ base on one’s experience, training, and medium.  New writers may start out with £5,000.  In contrast, old-timers (those who have 10-15 years of experience in their belt) may freelance writer working for a large magazine earns £700 per 1,000 words, while those who write for BBC dramas get paid £104.34 per minute.

Lawyer

The work of a lawyer involves more than just appearing in court, talking to witnesses, and examining evidence. To get there, they need to conduct loads of research and writing. They have to go through countless documents and legal texts in order to come up with strong arguments in court. Communication and critical thinking skills are essential here and an English degree can prepare you for that.  In fact, most experts would recommend aspiring lawyers to take up English and Communication courses as their pre-law degrees.

Entry requirements: A law degree (LL.B.) is required, which is offered in many universities across the nation.  For those who graduated with a non-law degree, a 1-2 year law conversation course is needed.  From then on, the job entry path differs depending on whether one wants to become a Solicitor or Barrister.  Aspiring solicitors are required to enroll with the Law Society of England and Wales as a student member, take a one-year course called the Legal Practice Course (LPC), followed by two years of apprenticeship.  Future barristers, meanwhile, must complete the Bar Professional Training Course, followed by a year-long training (known as “pupillage”) under the guidance of a trained barrister.

Salary expectations: The good news is that lawyers are paid well, earning on average £52,049 yearly.  Trainees may start with £18,590 as a salary but can go up to £300,000 as one goes up the career ladder.

Tips to find out more about a legal career

If you like the idea of pursuing a career in law, it’s wise to undertake further research. You can learn more about a day in the life of a lawyer by speaking to experienced lawyers, asking questions, and exploring different practice areas in more detail. Once you start your studies and training, you can gain practical experience and get a feel for the world of work by spending time doing work experience or internships as part of your programme. 

Many of us have a vision of what a career in law entails based on TV shows or films we’ve seen. While there may be a degree of accuracy, it’s essential to understand what being a lawyer or a solicitor involves. Lawyers tend to work very long days, they take on complex cases and they devote hours to reading and research, often taking work home and spending evenings and weekends deep in case files. The nature of the work can also be distressing in some cases but representing people and getting justice and positive results can also be hugely rewarding. 

Librarian

Librarians are pros when it comes to organizing information, in print form or those found electronically. They work in curation and for corporations’ information management systems though generally, they have careers in school and local libraries helping students conduct research. English degree majors, meanwhile deal with the creation and deconstruction of literary works. With all those elements in place, librarians who graduated with an English degree are very much equipped to handle your queries when you come to visit them at their places of work.

Entry requirements: Having a degree in Library and Information Management (LIM) will tip the scales in your favor if you want to take this career path, with those with a background in Language and Literary Arts also at an advantage but any degree will do. If you are gunning for professional posts, an MA/MSc in LIM is required.

Salary expectations: Library assistants (entry-level positions) may start at £19,195 which may go up to £32,310 for professionals with 2-5 years of experience.

actor

Actor

Going through hundreds of script pages to memorize can be a piece of cake for English majors who were trained to absorb loads of literary works in school. Critical analysis of these texts is also a core component of the degree which is a skill needed for a career in acting. Internalizing a character then comes much easier for actors with this degree in their belts.

These are just a few career options that anyone with an English degree can look into. The secret here is to do research and work hard at networking as many more career paths (academe, advertising, government service) are just waiting to be discovered.

Entry requirements: A degree in Drama or Theater is nice but not required.  Many got into acting through informal training which includes local theater or school productions.  Workshops also help and add to the training to get into the profession.  Securing a job in the industry requires going to auditions.  To get job leads, actors seek out the services of talent agents.

Salary expectations: The pay for actors depends on the location, nature of the work, and number of performances.  Experience, popularity, and the actors’ marketability also determines their worth.  As an example, theater actors have a minimum rate of £350. Compare that to British actor Daniel Craig who is set to earn a £31 million paycheck after he stars in two more installments of the James Bond franchise.

Still not convinced about an English degree holder’s place in our society? These famous people took up the course during their time in college:

Stephen King
Mario Cuomo
Diane Sawyer
Toni Morrison
James Cameron
Sting
Barbara Walters
Mitt Romney
Conan O’Brien

So heads up, English majors! And if ever somebody still calls you out for having a “worthless” degree, just smile and just shrug off the comment. The truth is, English majors might be (secretly) running the world all along.

* With additional info from: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/

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