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Careers in humanities

by on June 4, 2019 | Top Stories, Career Guide

Careers in humanities -

If you study medicine, you’re likely to pursue a career as a doctor; and if you study accountancy, you are probably thinking of becoming an accountant. But what if you study humanities? What career pathway lies ahead of you?

Because the humanities discipline is very diverse, it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific job path for a humanities graduate. That said, many jobs in policy, research or marketing are good choices for a well-rounded humanities grad. Students of the humanities discipline also learn how to communicate clearly, think critically and make reasoned choices – these are skills that can be beneficial for just about any career.

Below are some industries you can explore with a degree in humanities. This list is not exhaustive but it provides an idea of what humanities graduates have gone on to do and what potential careers a degree can offer.

Industry Brief Description
Administration Administration is a broad term that describes jobs that require clerical skills, teamwork, oversight, planning, organisation and problem-solving skills to complete assignments. With a degree in the humanities, you'll likely qualify for professions such as administrative assistant, business manager, human resources manager, higher education administrator or proofreader. If you're proficient in a foreign language, you might also consider a career as a translator, interpreter, international relations specialist or foreign diplomat.
Advertising Advertising is all about creative thinking and making people react positively to ads. Studying human culture and society can prove useful for understanding or predicting how people might react to a certain kind of ad – and your specific focus in humanities, be it music, philosophy or writing, might spark highly creative angles for your advertisements.
Art and history History is an important part of humanities, and many humanities graduates help preserve history by becoming curators of museums or art galleries. Curators acquire and maintain paintings, sculptures, historical artefacts and other works of art displayed at museums and galleries. They may also secure funding, plan special events or short-term themed exhibits and develop educational programmes.
Education Many humanities graduates go on to become educators – they may become teachers in elementary, secondary or higher education. Some may work in other educational roles like docents, education directors, guides, interpreters, historical consultants, contract archivists, public historians and even filmmakers.
Information management As a humanities graduate, you would have learnt to deal with documents, or pursued library studies or archival management. With this additional training, you can enter the fields of archives management, information management, records management, and librarianship.
International relations If your studies focused on a particular culture, you will have a great chance of landing jobs at embassies in other countries as a cultural attaché. You’ll be the most qualified person to understand that country’s culture and represent your own – it will be a big plus if you specialised in international relations.
Journalism and publishing Being successful as a humanities majors depends a lot on learning to collect various types of information, assess them, and put them into writing and efficiently convey your message. Armed with this skill, many humanities graduates become writers and editors. They make their living as authors of historical books, editors at a publishing house, print and broadcast journalists, documentary editors, technical writers or content editors.
Law Occupations in the law often reflect a keen understanding of the humanities. The law addresses ways to govern human behaviour, ensuring a system of justice. Jobs in the law include paralegal, court reporter, intelligence specialist, corrections officer, special agent and lawyer. Some of these professions require advanced degrees, but a bachelor in the humanities can get you started down the right path.
Research The skills that students of humanities have in evaluating and analysing documentary evidence lead many to become researchers. Their roles include public historians as well as policy advisors, who serve as planners, evaluators, and policy analysts, often for state, local, and federal governments. They also find employment as researchers for museums and historical organisations.
Social work Social work is a branch of humanities that seeks to address concerns or situations that affect the wellbeing of individuals or groups. Some jobs in social work require the expertise of medical specialists such as doctors and psychologists, but other jobs require a cultural or behavioural understanding of human nature. Jobs in this field include community work, special relations, counselling and diplomacy.

Still not convinced about the career opportunities of a humanities graduate? Read about the top 10 highest-paying jobs for humanities graduates according to PayScale.

  Career Brief job description
1 Proposal Manager Proposal managers oversee all of an organisation’s proposals. They review proposal requests, hold discussions with clients to understand their requirements and expectations, delegate tasks to employees, contractors, or consultants, oversee the progress of the proposal plan and secure approval for the proposal.
2 Communications Director Communications directors work in a variety of fields, including private corporations, government agencies, non-profit organisations and more. They oversee the information and communication that comes from their companies and how the companies' messages are delivered to the public.
3 Content Strategist Content strategists typically develop a plan for content and oversee how that plan is carried out. Because content strategists are responsible for creating a unified message for their organisation, they must be able to work well with others to determine their company's - and individual departments' - needs.
4 Content Marketing Manager Content marketing managers are responsible for overseeing a company's content strategies and implementing comprehensive content-delivery plans, including print, video, audio, and other forms of content. They may work on websites, blogs posts, social media, and other outlets, and work closely with marketing and sales teams to define effective content and content delivery.
5 Instructional designer An instructional designer is responsible for developing instructional material, such as customer training courses, that help support the company's technical products. They are tasked with creating material that helps all types of users understand the product better and developing courses that cater to all levels of the audience.
6 Technical Writer Technical writers usually write instruction manuals and other documents in a way that will communicate complex, technical information in nontechnical language. They also develop, gather, and communicate technical information among customers, designers, production workers, and manufacturers.
7 Content Manager Content managers work with creative personnel and freelancers to establish and maintain creative materials used by a website, a marketing campaign, media aggregator, or similar entity that offers content. Their work includes editing for appropriateness of tone, style, and subject matter.
8 Proposal Writer Proposal writers are responsible for creating and delivering business proposals. They analyse proposal documents and thoroughly research requests to determine potential costs and benefits. They then prepare a written proposal to communicate their company’s ability to effectively meet the contract’s needs at a reasonable price. This process involves coordinating information and tasks with many departments in the organisation.
9 Web Content Specialist Web content specialists are responsible for generating quality written materials that will attract visitors to their organisation's website. They may be responsible for writing materials for the website, and editing content from other writers as well. Specialists help find and/or create images and other visual elements to go along with written materials, as well as ensure that search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are followed.
10 Sign Language Interpreter The sign language interpreter provides translation into American Sign Language (ASL) for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) individuals, as well as provides translation from these individuals into spoken English (or another language, depending on their specialty and audience). These interpreter can work in a variety of settings such as schools, offices, and conferences, among many others.

You will notice that many of the top jobs listed involve writing and content in some form. Other top jobs on PayScale’s list reflect the same trend – read on below:

  • Copywriter
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Web Content Editor
  • Legal Secretary
  • Publications Editor
  • Interpreter or Translator
  • Content Writer
  • Paralegal/ Legal Assistant
  • Writer
  • Grant Writer
  • Proofreader
  • Secondary School Teacher
  • Middle School Teacher
  • News Reporter

Besides writing, other skills you can expect to develop through a humanities degree are:

  • The capacity to identify and question the principles, ideas, and values of texts and of the cultures from which they come
  • An ability to appreciate cultural diversity by emphasising the values that support the dignity and integrity of all human beings
  • The ability to evaluate and integrate new information and apply this to professional demands
  • The capacity to analyse problems critically, think creatively and make sound decisions while considering different sides of an argument
  • The ability to explain complex ideas clearly to others and to apply complex theoretical concepts to everyday practice and professional dilemmas
  • The skills to collect various types of information, assess them, analyse and incorporate potential linkages from different fields, put them into writing and efficiently convey your message and the goal of your work
  • The ability to work effectively in group situations, partake in decision-making, lead and contribute in various capacities
  • The ability to debate, persuade, mediate and present your thoughts and opinions to others, as well as the capacity to recognise and incorporate other potential solutions or applications to given problems


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