What can I do with my degree? Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

What can I do with my degree? Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

The UK job market has a high level of flexibility, with 40% – 50% of graduate vacancies open to applicants from any degree subject and arts, humanities & social sciences graduates find opportunities with almost every type of employer in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Humanities degrees are considered non-vocational and it’s fair to say that they don’t often lend themselves to obvious career choices and as a humanities graduate you might worry that you lack the edge on others who have developed ‘hard’ skills in subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

It may surprise you to learn that:

60% of the UK’s leaders have humanities, arts or social science degrees. Of this group, the biggest segment is people with humanities degrees. The percentage of leaders with STEM degrees is 15%. Only 7% of people in the sample have vocational qualifications (Accounting, Business and so on).   Matthew Batstone, The Guardian Careers Blog

The following will help you see that your degree is an excellent springboard into a successful and satisfying career:

Employability skills and your degree

“A set of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that make an individual more likely to secure and be successful in their chosen occupations to the benefit of themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.”  Cardiff University’s Employability and Enterprise Skills Strategy

Employability skills are also known as transferable skills. Along with good technical and subject knowledge, graduate employers often outline a set of skills and attributes that they want from an employee. These skills are what they believe will equip the employee to carry out their role to the best of their ability.

Depending on the career sector and profession you chose to work in, there could be very specific skills, abilities and knowledge required to do the job (which may mean you will need to consider further study). However, complementing these are general competencies, qualities and behaviours that will help make you ‘work ready’ and which graduate employers will want to see clear evidence of throughout their studies, and from other experiences such as internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, clubs or societies.

As an arts, humanities or social sciences graduate you will develop a wealth of employability skills and attributes through your studies which are highly valued by employers and transferable to a variety of fields and sectors including:

  • Communication and literacy skills
  • Negotiation and persuasive skills
  • Logical and problem solving skills
  • Creativity skills
  • Team working
  • Leadership skills
  • Self-management
  • Research, organisation and analytical skills
  • Information Technology and Application of number

The Advice A-Z – employability skills section covers the key employability skills that graduate employers are looking for in more detail.

These employability skills and attributes will equip you well in your pursuit of your dream job and it may be both a surprise and relief to know how many sectors are open to you.

TOP TIP: Book here for a Careers Workshop which will help you identify the employability skills developed through your degree and will help you articulate and present these skills effectively to employers in CVs, application forms and interviews.

Choosing a career that suits your strengths, interests and personality

As well as helping you to get your first job, the skills and attributes that you develop through your degree will also help you make more informed career decisions.  They will enable you to be satisfied and successful in your career and they will enable you to make transitions and progress through your career, because you’ll have the writing, speaking, and thinking abilities to do so.

Alongside, these skills and attributes, your personality, values and interests will also affect decisions about your future. To understand more about choosing a career that suits your skills, interests and personality explore our Advice A-Z- start your career planning section.

Career options for arts, humanities and social sciences graduates

The list below highlights some of the career and job options available with any degree subject and are popular destinations for humanities graduates. Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it is an excellent starting point for your career planning and will help you think about the variety of sectors and career areas available to you.

Use the What can I do with my degree? By School page for more information about career and jobs options, employability and postgraduate study related to your degree subject.

Please note that further study or a conversion course may be required for some job roles.

Where do arts, humanities and social sciences graduates go?

Use the What can I do with my degree? By School page - look for the What have ??? graduates gone on to do?  section for each subject.

Developing your skills and improving your career prospects: what next?

With so many career areas to choose from, you should start thinking early on about what jobs might suit you after graduation and you should seek out opportunities to develop your employability skills and improve your career prospects.

Be aware that some career areas, in particular the media and creative industries, are fiercely competitive and you will need relevant work experience to get a foot in the door.

Being proactive, researching your career ideas and developing relevant skills through experience is vital in today’s competitive market place.

Improve your career prospects with this checklist:

  • Develop your skills through experience – more details in  Advice A-Z – work experience
    • Get some work experience
    • Get a part-time job
    • Volunteering
    • Make the most of your holidays and the summer – Think about getting a summer placement or Internship
    • Sandwich years (or placement training years)
  • Get involved
  • Research your career ideas further
    • Use the Career Areas A-Z to explore different career areas
    • Use the Degree Subjects A-Z to explore the skills your degree gives you
    • Attend employer presentations and careers events to get career/company specific information
  • Build your professional network and knowledge
    • Network with graduate employers at careers fairs and employer presentations
    • Network on social media – start by attending a LinkedIn Masterclass to help you build your profile
    • Join professional associations and groups – start with the links listed in the Career Areas A-Z
    • Follow companies on Facebook/Twitter
  • Develop your ability to articulate present your skills to employers
    • Check out the rest of the Advice A-Z section
    • Book yourself on to our Careers Workshops and Masterclasses
    • Book an appointment with your subject-specific Careers Adviser or come along to a Drop-in (drop-ins are not subject-specific)