If you're studying a humanities-based degree, there's a high chance you decided on your course based upon your interest and/or your aptitude for your subject. The good news is that your degree, despite not being vocational has given you lots of sought after skills that will stand you in excellent stead when it comes to your career.
A good humanities degree is testament to your hard work, creativity and enthusiasm. From time to time, we're sure you may have questioned the value of your degree - 'but what on earth am I actually qualified for' - but there's no need to panic. There are a plethora of sectors waiting to welcome you. In fact, you might find that employers actively want someone with your degree background, so in demand are your qualities and transferable skills. Arguably, the hardest part is going to be narrowing down your many options.
Learning about the history of art is all very well... but what career is this leading me to?
You've acquired skills on your degree, many of which you might not be aware. Take a second to think through some of these 'employability skills' you think you have acquired. I bet you could probably tick off several, if not all of the below.
- An ability to read well and digest a lot of information
- Ability to write quickly and succinctly
- To summarise, debate and articulate a point of view
- Ability to think critically
- The ability to present and deliver points orally
- Ability to work independently and motivate yourself
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to think and act creatively and laterally
- Ability to organise your workload and work to deadlines
- Ability to develop opinions, propose ideas and theories
- Ability to research
All of these skills are valued highly by employers and each one can be transferred into the workplace. As such, you're already in a very good position so don't underestimate this.
What career can I do?
On average 40% of graduate opportunities do not require a specific degree subject. If you can demonstrate an interest and an understanding of the career, usually through work experience or extra-curricular activities, you'll be on the right track. Of course, there are some jobs which you won't be able to apply for - specifically those that require a particular degree - Medicine/Veterinary Medicine/Dentistry/Engineering but it's never too late. If you've had an epiphany and you want to save lives and retrain as a doctor, there's nothing to stop you from doing that. For now, though, we'll take a look at six paths you can follow in the more immediate term.
1. Banking & Finance
To excel in this sector you'll need an interest in the financial world - but your humanities degree will not hold you back. If you're ambitious, analytical and driven, this could be the sector for you. From client management to investor relations, trading to accounting, the banking and finance sector has a wealth of opportunities and you'll be sure to find something to suit your strengths.
- Learn more about Investment Banking | Discover available opportunities in Investment Banking
- Learn more about Investment & Asset Management | Discover available opportunities in Investment & Asset Management
- Learn more about Accounting, Audit & Tax | Discover available opportunities in Accounting, Audit & Tax
- Learn more about Financial Services | Discover available opportunities in Financial Services
Among our members, consulting is the most sought after sector. With good starting salaries and the breadth of roles and experiences available, it's no wonder that many humanities graduates go for a career in consulting.
The one thing that all graduates in this sector have in common? They all enjoy tackling intellectual challenges - and as a consultant that's at the heart of your role. The skills you've acquired in your degree are sought after by leading consultancy firms including McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group and PwC. Find out more about consulting and why it could be a splendid fit for you. You could find yourself following in the footsteps of the Grammy award-winning musician John Legend. He started out as a management consultant after completing his English degree.
In Law, the ability to read large volumes of research and synthesise the key ideas into one or two succinct messages is a skill humanities students are highly trained in. This is just one of the reasons why a career in commercial law or as a barrister appeals to bright graduates. A career in law requires a keen intellect, a thirst for knowledge and a need to understand the bigger picture.
With a keen eye for detail, you'll have the chance to put everything you've learnt at university into practice. Armed with your degree, if you're dedicated and tenacious a career in Law beckons.
4. Marketing, Media, PR, Publishing & Journalism, Consumer & Retail
These sectors are perceived to be the more traditional career routes for humanities graduates. Combining your creative thinking and problem-solving skillsets is often why graduates find these are the routes for them. What's more, with the ever-changing technology and digital landscape, new opportunities and roles in these sectors are popping up all the time and, as a bright graduate, you have the potential to excel.
- Learn more about Marketing & PR | Browse opportunities in Marketing & PR
- Learn more about Consumer & Retail | Browse opportunities in Consumer & Retail
- Learn more about Journalism & Publishing | Browse opportunities in Journalism & Publishing
5. Charity, Public Sector, Education & Teaching
If you're looking for an exciting, challenging and rewarding career, check out these sectors. As a humanities graduate you will most likely have the essential skills needed to excel and enjoy a career in these areas - good team working skills, the ability to deal with people as well as excellent communication, organisational skills and an ability to work under pressure. There is a diverse range of roles available in this sector
- Learn more about Charity & Social Enterprise | Browse opportunities in Charity & Social Enterprise
- Learn more about Public Sector & Government | Browse opportunities in Public Sector & Government
- Learn more about Education & Teaching | Browse opportunities in Education & Teaching
Ever thought about starting your own venture one day? Well, you wouldn't be the first humanities graduate to think that. With your skills and ability to work independently, you might decide that starting your own business is the route for you. Take Stewart Butterfield. He studied Philosophy at Canada's University of Victoria and is now Co-Founder & CEO of Slack Technologies, the current golden star of Silicon Valley with 1.1. million users and a market valuation of $2.8 billion. Lady Martha Lane Fox, Co-Founder of lastminute.com studied History and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook read Philosophy at Stanford University.
Firms that want your humanities degree
Dare to Challenge Everything. Do you ever wonder What if? What’s next? Can you see the opportunities, the possibilities? The never-been-done, the what-could-be? Then you’re AXA's type of graduate. A global leader in insurance and asset management, they are transforming their business so that we can protect people better. But to make change happen, AXA are looking for the brightest and most curious of minds. Here in the UK, they run five graduate programmes: Business Leaders, Actuarial, Finance, IT and Digital Leaders, Data Science. Whichever programme you join them in, they’ll give you superb training, development and support.
Burges Salmon LLP
A leading law firm with global reach. At Burges Salmon, excellent client service underpins all that they do. Their working culture is open, collaborative and strongly client-focused. They provide the highest standards of legal and business advice to clients across the UK. Burges Salmon enhance the already considerable ability of all our lawyers by providing a real breadth of advice, recognising the broader requirements of their clients and taking into account their strategic, commercial and other needs.
As an integrated business, KPMG is in a strong position to respond to client needs, bringing together the right teams at the right time, across disciplines and across borders. The key to their success lies in their ability to match our insights and skills to the strategic goals of clients, day in and day out. KPMG in the UK has 22 offices and is part of a global network of member firms offering Audit, Tax and Advisory services. KPMG's people are at the heart of our continued success and being part of the firm is being part of a community of talented and innovative people, working together to have a positive, lasting impact on clients. No one type of person succeeds at KPMG; a diverse business requires diverse personalities, characters and perspectives.
McKinsey & Co
McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm. They are the trusted advisor to the world's leading businesses, governments, and institutions, as they work with leading organisations across the private, public and social sectors. At Mckinsey, you'll build your capabilities and leadership skills at every level and every opportunity. Working with their international client base, you'll fully participate in the process and lead the ongoing work.
National Audit Office
National Audit Office's work, along with that of the Committee of Public Accounts, leads to savings and other efficiency gains worth millions of pounds – almost £1.15 billion in 2014. They audit the financial statements of all central government departments, agencies and other public bodies and report the results to Parliament. The work is 'big hitting', high quality, varied and worthwhile. It has a real impact on the nation. The skills and knowledge of their people are our greatest asset and they are passionate about finding the right people to help them achieve their vision to help the nation spend wisely.
A final word
As a humanities student, you have what is potentially the broadest scope of career options open to you and your degree provides a perfect springboard into a successful career. Think big. There's nothing stopping you from following a career path that you can really love.
Whether you're ready to apply for graduate jobs, or you simply want to see what's out there. Use our trusty application list to browse graduate jobs.