Career University

Path Unclear: Career Options For Arts Degree Subjects

Written by Channon Gray

The subjects we study at school and university are rather broad. We study the basics – English, maths, science, and so on – for most of our lives, then seek more specialisation when we reach secondary education. From there, we specialise even further to our choice of degree subject… and then, the emphasis on specialisation stops.

When it comes to deciding your career, the lack of specialisation can be genuinely problematic. Some degrees naturally lend themselves to careers; medical degrees for doctors, legal degrees for lawyers, and so on. However, other degrees – and particularly arts-based degrees – are less clear. These degree subjects are more niche than the broad strokes we learn in our earlier years, but it’s still often very difficult to see a clear route forward to an actual career.

When it comes to deciding your career path, specificity is incredibly important – yet our degrees, which are meant to prepare us for our future careers, cover a wide spectrum of subjects. One option you may wish to pursue is further specialisation via graduate MA, but even then, these rarely lead to an obvious career.

To try and address this issue, below, you will find a list of suitable careers that utilise the skills that are learned when undertaking four degrees that are notorious for being challenging to draw a career from. We’ll discuss the more obvious career choices for each degree, and we’ll also look at a few more outside-the-box options that may well be of interest to you…

English Language

English Language remains a popular degree course, and can be utilised for a variety of different careers.

The obvious choice

English Language graduates will usually proficient with words, which makes creative careers – such as journalism or marketing – incredibly attractive. One of the major benefits of these types of careers is that they can be done on a freelance basis, so you could always give them a try to see if they suit you before committing full time.

The outside-the-box choice

Even just 10 years ago, the idea of becoming a blogger as a deliberate career choice would have been a strange one. However, there’s no denying that blogging is now a viable career choice, and a particularly suitable one for English graduates. You can use your mastery of words to create outstanding content for the blog itself, and then attract readers by leaning on your way with words to create enticing social media posts. If you like the idea, you may want to consider starting a blog as a side hustle rather than a main income; if all goes well, you can then look into expanding your existing blog into a full-time revenue stream.


History is a popular degree choice, but one of the most opaque when it comes to deciding a career to pursue following graduate.

The obvious choice

The more likely routes are fields that involve a focus on the past: museum curation, for example, or even working as a tour guide at a history site.

The outside-the-box career path

One of the core skills that all history students must learn is organisation. Without effective organisation, keeping track of dates, events, and how they link to one another is nigh-on impossible. Organisational skills are highly prized in the working world, and one of the most natural options is to work as a project manager.

As a project manager, you will need to carefully track, monitor, and follow the sequence of a project – something that history graduates will have long grown adept at. You will usually need further qualifications to specialise in project management; but you can get a project management diploma from RMIT and similar institutions online for extra convenience. You should find that your existing skill set transfers well to project management should you decide to pursue this route full-time.

Modern Languages

The popularity of studying languages is falling, which is actually good news for those who do want to study language at degree level: it means there is less competition in the workforce. However, modern languages do not necessarily lend themselves to a number of obvious career paths, especially if you are not interested in…

The obvious choice

Translation and/or interpreting are by far the most popular choices for those who have studied modern language degrees. However, even with a lower number of modern language graduates, roles are often difficult to find. You may find that translation or interpreting is something you can do as a side-hustle, but finding enough clients to sustain a full-time job can be difficult.

The outside-the-box choice

The idea of modern languages translating into a career in logistics may sound odd on the surface, but it actually makes a huge amount of sense. First and foremost, your degree will have sharpened your ability to spot small details and complete projects under pressure – both of which are highly useful in logistics. Secondly, modern logistics is globalized, which means an ability to speak a second language is highly prized in this field. Logistics may seem like an unusual choice but, in reality, it makes a lot of sense for language graduates to consider it.

English Literature

Many of the career options for English Language are also viable for Literature graduates, but there are a few additional options you may want to consider.

The obvious choice

English Literature naturally lends itself to working as a librarian, though editing is also a popular choice.

The outside-the-box choice

English Literature focuses heavily on stories; how these are created, what makes them successful, and how stories should be told to appeal to as many people as possible. The same could be said of advertising. If you choose to work in advertising, you will need to learn how to spin a successful story and create a narrative that people can relate to – something that English Literature graduates already have an insight into achieving.

In conclusion

The degree areas above might not immediately offer a clear career path forward – but hopefully, the ideas presented above will spark your imagination, and provide you with a few ideas as to a future career path that may just be perfect for you.


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.

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About the author

Channon Gray

I'm Channon and yes, it's spelt wrong, but that is interesting right? I'm 23 years young. I like to write, create art and travel. Cornish bumpkin who studied in London then Cambridge. I'm now a Postgraduate Student, Stationery Addict and all-round Life Enthusiast.

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