The ultimate 2024 literature career guide

Have you got a passion for words, storytelling, and creativity? Writing and literature is an attractive industry if you are drawn to leveraging the power of language to evoke emotions, provoke thoughts, and ignite imaginations. The industry provides avenues for creativity, self-expression, and intellecutual engagement, so if you enjoy experiencing how literature has the ability to reflect the human experience, are curious to explore different narratives, and feel connected to exploring diverse cultures, perspectives, and experiences, then you'll be well sutied to a career in the literature industry. With opportunities spanning from traditional publishing to digital media and beyond, the literature industry is the perfect place for you if you have a love for language and a desire to contribute to the ongoing conversation of life's stories.

This ultimate career guide is covering what careers you can go into the literature industry, from traditional roles to applying your skills in different industries, to finding work and increasing your earning potential.

1. What careers can I go into with an English Literature degree?

English Literature graduates have a versatile skill set that can be adapted to a range of careers. In an era where effective communication and critical thinking are paramount, the skills you'll gain throughout your degree will springboard you into securing career opportunities in a range of sectors.

Here are 10 sectors suitable for English Literature graduates in 2024:

  1. Publishing Industry: Working as an editor, literary agent, or in marketing and publicity roles within publishing houses.
  2. Education Sector: Teaching literature at different levels, or working in educational administration.
  3. Journalism and Media: Pursuing a career in journalism, writing for newspapers, magazines, or online publications, or working in broadcast media.
  4. Content Creation and Marketing: Creating written content for digital platforms, advertising agencies, or content marketing firms.
  5. Public Relations and Communications: Crafting press releases, speeches, and other written materials for corporations, nonprofits, or government agencies.
  6. Librarianship and Information Science: Working as a librarian, archivist, or information specialist in libraries, museums, or academic institutions.
  7. Arts and Culture Organisations: Working in roles such as a programme coordinator, curator, or grant writer for museums, galleries, theaters, or cultural centers.
  8. Technology and Digital Media: Writing content for websites, blogs, social media platforms, or working in user experience (UX) writing or content strategy roles.
  9. Nonprofit and Advocacy Organisations: Working in roles such as grant writer, communications specialist, or programme coordinator for organisations focused on social justice, environmental advocacy, or other causes.
  10. Freelance Writing and Consulting: Pursuing a career as a freelance writer, editor, or literary consultant, offering services to clients across various industries.

2. What are 20 popular jobs for literature graduates?

  1. Content Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Copywriter
  4. Journalist
  5. Public Relations Specialist
  6. Social Media Manager
  7. Marketing Coordinator
  8. Technical Writer
  9. Grant Writer
  10. Scriptwriter
  11. Literary Agent
  12. Digital Content Manager
  13. Communications Officer
  14. Education Consultant
  15. Cultural Events Coordinator
  16. Brand Strategist
  17. Online Course Builder
  18. Research Analyst
  19. Publishing Assistant
  20. Media Relations Coordinator

3. Alternative roles and industries where you can apply your skills

Literature graduates build a diverse skill set that can be applied to various industries beyond traditional literary roles.

Here are 10 alternative sectors you can consider a career in:

  1. Content Marketing Specialist: Crafting engaging written content for digital marketing campaigns, including blogs, social media posts, and email newsletters.
  2. UX Writer (User Experience Writer): Creating clear and concise content for websites, applications, and software interfaces to enhance user experience and usability.
  3. Corporate Communications Manager: Developing internal and external communication strategies, writing press releases, and crafting corporate messaging for organisations.
  4. Legal Content Writer: Producing legal documents, articles, and blog posts for law firms, legal publications, or legal tech companies.
  5. Education Consultant: Providing expertise in curriculum development, literacy programmes, or educational content creation for educational institutions or ed-tech companies.
  6. Cultural Programme Coordinator: Organising literary events, workshops, and cultural programmes for museums, galleries, or community organisations.
  7. Grant Writer: Researching and writing grant proposals to secure funding for nonprofit organisations, foundations, or research institutions.
  8. Digital Content Strategist: Developing content strategies for online platforms, analysing audience engagement metrics, and optimising content for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  9. Media Analyst: Conducting research, analysing media trends, and writing reports for media monitoring firms, marketing agencies, or market research companies.
  10. Nonprofit Fundraising Coordinator: Planning and implementing fundraising campaigns, writing donor appeals, and managing donor communications for nonprofit organisations in fields such as arts, culture, or education.

4. Is a literature degree worth it?

Choosing to study a degree is a personal decision, but at Essex we strongly believe that a literature education is the ideal platform to grow your skills as a writer, recieve guidance and education from experts, and have access to network opportunities, and the chance to take hone your literary interests with international travel through your degree.

You might read the phrase 'you'll develop transferrable skills' more times than you've read your favourite novel, but think about it - developing transferable skills throughout your degree enables you to have the freedom to take your career in any direction. You're interests may change and grow over the course of your degree, and building a strong set of adaptable skills is going to put you in the best position to choose the career path that best aligns with your interests and passions.

Here's 10 highly sought-after skills that can be applied to any industry:

  1. Critical thinking skills: Studying literature cultivates critical thinking abilities, enabling you to analyse complex texts, evaluate arguments, and think logically and creatively.
  2. Communication skills: You'll develop strong written and verbal communication skills, essential for expressing ideas effectively in diverse contexts, including digital media, marketing, and public relations.
  3. Cultural competence: Literature exposes you to diverse cultures, perspectives, and historical contexts, fostering empathy, cultural awareness, and appreciation for global diversity.
  4. Research proficiency: Literature coursework involves extensive research, honing research skills such as information literacy, data analysis, and synthesis of scholarly sources, valuable in academic and professional settings.
  5. Adaptability: Literature graduates have adaptable skills that are transferable across industries, enabling you to thrive in diverse career paths, including technology, education, business, and nonprofit sectors.
  6. Creativity and innovation: Studying literature nurtures creativity and imagination, essential for problem-solving, innovation, and generating fresh ideas in today's dynamic and evolving job market.
  7. Leadership and collaboration: Literature programmes often involve group discussions, collaborative projects, and leadership opportunities, fostering teamwork, interpersonal skills, and effective collaboration.
  8. Civic engagement: Literature encourages reflection on societal issues, ethical dilemmas, and social justice themes, inspiring graduates to engage as informed citizens and contribute positively to their communities.
  9. Lifelong learning: Literature encourages a lifelong love of learning and intellectual curiosity, empowering you to continue exploring literature, culture, and ideas beyond graduation.
  10. Personal enrichment: Beyond professional benefits, studying literature provides personal enrichment, offering opportunities for self-reflection, introspection, and a deeper understanding of human-kind.


Explore more career-enhancing opportunities  

5. How you can you earn money within the literature industry?

There's a few different avenues you could follow when it comes to earning a salary. Whether you're drawn to a buzzing team environment,  are keen to build your own portfolio, or have an entreprenurial spirit, there's lots of opportunities for you to leverage your own earning potential. Here are 4 ways you can earn money within the literature industry:

1. Freelance

Imagine you're a passionate writer who loves literature and wants to make a living doing what you love. Freelancing is like being a literary entrepreneur. Instead of working for a single employer, freelancers are self-employed individuals who offer their writing services to various clients on a project-by-project basis. For example, you could write articles for online magazines, create content for businesses' websites, or even help authors polish their manuscripts as an editor.

As a freelancer, you have the flexibility to choose the projects you want to work on, set your own schedule, and work from anywhere. It's a great way to explore different aspects of the literary industry while having the freedom to pursue your passions and interests. It also means you have the freedom to set your own rates, and have the opportunity to grow your own earning potential.

2. Employed Positions

Equally, choosing to work for an employer has many advantages. Employment provides stability and security, with a consistent income, benefits such as health insurance, a pension, and potential for career progression within an industry leading company. You'll also have access to mentorship, professional development, and networking opportunities. Some people often find that they enjoy being part of a team and working collectively towards common goals such as promoting literacy, supporting authors, or advancing literary scholarship.

3. Hybrid

It's not uncommon for graduates to seek a balance between employment and freelancing. Each avenue has their own advantages. The good news? This is an industry where you can have the best of both worlds. For example, you could work full-time or part-time for a publishing house, literary agency, or educational institution, gaining stability, benefits, and opportunities for career growth.

At the same time, you could also pursue freelance opportunities on the side, such as writing articles, editing manuscripts, or teaching workshops, and even take on long-term contracts as a freelancer. This allows you to explore different interests, supplement your income, and build a diverse portfolio of work while maintaining the flexibility to work on independent projects.

4. Entrepreneurship

Embarking on entrepreneurship can take various forms, each offering opportunities to innovate, create, and make a meaningful impact. This could be in the form of building your own independent publishing house or online magazine, hosting a literary festival, offering consultancy services or forming a tech startup. Regardless of the entrepreneurial venture you choose, thorough market research, strategic planning, and networking with industry professionals will be essential for success. 

If starting your own business is something you aspire to do, we're proud of our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups at Essex. On our Colchester campus, you'll find the Innovation Centre, Essex startups, Angels at Essex, and Clickcrowdfunding, our very own fundraising platform. 

Side note: You can find more ways of earning money in the creative writing ultimate career guide.


Read the creative writing ultimate career guide

The takeaway

Imagine immersing yourself in the world of literature every day, surrounded by books, stories, and endless possibilities for creativity and exploration. A career in literature offers just that and more. Beyond the inherent joy of working with words and storytelling, a career in the literary has many advantages. You have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by shaping narratives, amplifying diverse voices, and contributing to cultural conversations. With the flexibility to work across various sectors and leverage your own earning potential, a career in the literary industry allows you to combine your passion for literature with professional fulfillment, creativity, and lifelong learning.

English Literature degrees at Essex are based within the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.


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