Are You Figuring Out What to Do with Your Humanities Degree?

Do you have the issue of “one degree, too many career options”? Trust us, it’s a good problem to have.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
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When you graduated with your new humanities degree, you excitedly hopped onto your favourite job search portal and filtered roles that would make use of your many unique transferable skills. Except you quickly realised that your skills are applicable to a diverse range of job roles in just about every industry out there! So many, in fact, that you’re overwhelmed and can’t seem to zero in on a suitable role or industry.

But there’s a way to find out which role brings you both job satisfaction and future opportunities! Take the time to consider your interests and passion, and cross that with areas of work that are open to all disciplines. Don’t be afraid to try new fields that you’ve never considered before, too.

Take note, though, that you might have to demonstrate some capabilities on top of your transferable skills, such as an interest in global financial markets when gunning for a role in the investment banking and investment management industry.

Here are other areas of work you can consider as well, so read on to find out!

#1: Education

Whenever education is mentioned, first thoughts often turn to teaching students in institutions ranging from pre-school, all the way to polytechnics, like Singapore Polytechnic, and universities such as the National University of Singapore (NUS). Other duties include ensuring students understand how to apply the knowledge you’ve passed down to real-life situations, and taking note of students’ unique paces of learning.

But there are also other roles such as curriculum writing and planning in the Ministry of Education headquarters, where it’ll be up to you to identify and determine students’ areas of education, as well as review past curricula.

Take note that in this sector, additional qualifications are needed, which are awarded by the National Institute of Education (NIE). However, lecturing in universities usually also requires postgraduate doctoral studies in the area you wish to specialise in.

Skills needed: No matter which area of the education sector you decide to enter, empathy, kindness, patience, good communication and interpersonal skills, as well as solid people management skills are vital, as you’ll have to manage both student learning and parental expectations. Moreover, you must have the passion and positivity to raise the next generation despite the many challenges you’ll inevitably come across.

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#2: Linguistics

Vital to the documentation of languages around the world, the field of linguistics can offer opportunities from academia and establishing literacy programmes like those run by ReadAble, all the way to language processing and revitalisation. Other potential areas of work include translation and accurate rendering of documents, as well as language analysation. Due to their deep involvement in different cultures, most linguists find their work to be fulfilling.

However, it should also be noted that some areas of work may require postgraduate studies up to a PhD, especially if you’re interested in the preservation of languages like Batek, a language considered critically endangered in Malaysia.

On a side note, linguistic professionals are also occasionally sought out by the film industry, where they may be asked to create fictional languages as part of world-building. High-profile examples include Elvish for The Lord of the Rings franchise and Game of Thrones’ Dothraki.

Skills needed: As you’ll be working with a diverse range of cultures and numerous stakeholders, you’ll need cross-cultural skills and sensitivity, as well as solid communication and interpersonal skills. In addition, an eye for detail and good knowledge of the languages you’ll be working with are essential.

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#3: Human resources (HR)

No matter which industry or organisation you decide to enter, human resource (HR) departments typically deal with the recruitment and retention of talent. In the recruitment stage, you’ll be heavily involved in the pre-screening and background checks of candidates, and will likely be the ones conducting interviews, as well.

Apart from that, there’s also the maintenance and enforcement of company policy, which will be under your purview, too, as is the administration of benefits and even payroll.

Skills needed: Most HR departments work in teams, so skills in communication and teamwork are essential. Adaptability, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also highly sought-after, since you’ll likely be consulted on dealing with a multitude of situations involving other parties. Because you’ll be managing any number of employees – from a small number to the hundreds – organisation and time management skills are vital. Moreover, as benefits and payroll tend to also be the responsibility of HR, the ability to keep information confidential is also important.

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#4: Public relations (PR)

When it comes to upholding, maintaining and even rebranding the image of a company, it’s public relations (PR) that oversees it. To that end, you’ll engage with company clients and stakeholders, as well as liaise with the media. As you’re in charge of your company’s image, you’ll also have to review materials your company intends to publish and release to ensure that it's seen in the best possible light.

You’ll also have the option of working for an employer with their own internal PR department, much like Apple, or a PR firm that works with a range of clients. But take note that if you’d rather work in a PR firm such as The Right Spin, identifying a client’s branding, and working in alignment with it, is an added responsibility.

Skills needed: You must have excellent communication skills, both written and oral. As you’ll have to impart a company’s image effectively, solid interpersonal and presentation skills are required, too. Creativity is also a boon, as is project management and commercial awareness.

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#5: Hospitality

A versatile and broad industry, hospitality is the business of providing consumers with good services to create a positive relationship and experience, as well as ensure their return and repeat patronage. This can be found in hotels like Carlton Hotel, food and beverage settings such as restaurants and cafés, and even event planning and weight-loss personal training. Theme parks like Universal Studios Singapore are also heavily dependent on hospitality.

It should be noted, though, that hours in this sector tend to be long, with irregular hours being common. In fact, you might find yourself working longer hours on weekends than you do on weekdays!

Skills needed: On top of robust communication and interpersonal skills, people management is a definite must in this industry. Project management is also important, as is empathy, patience and adaptability. Cultural awareness and sensitivity are vital, as you’ll work with diverse customers from a variety of backgrounds, along with an eye for detail, resilience, initiative and the ability to multitask.

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#6: Sales and marketing

A staple in every industry and company, although sales and marketing are usually considered separate departments, the transferable soft skills humanities graduates are equipped with typically lend themselves well to roles in both.

For instance, you have the skills to infer consumer behaviour and adjust products accordingly – an important part of sales – and can even communicate new or current market trends to target audiences effectively, which is under the purview of marketing.

Skills needed: There are many overlaps in the skills needed for sales and marketing, such as strong communication and interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, abilities to influence and analyse trends, as well as make decisions in ambiguous times when you don’t have all the information. Other skills employers look for include product knowledge, commercial awareness and a good understanding of business environments and present consumer trends.

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#7: Film production

Film production, or filmmaking, is the process by which motion pictures – movies and television shows – are produced for public consumption. Although the end product is the one most regularly seen, the process of it is actually very long and complex, and contains a wide range of roles you can consider, from script-writing to logistics.

Although Singapore’s local film industry is small compared to other giants, it has experienced a strong revival over the past two decades under the guidance of the Singapore Film Commission (SFC). Relatable films like Sandcastle struck most Singaporeans close to home, I Not Stupid detailed the struggles of Singaporean students (and included some political satire) and Ilo Ilo made waves internationally with its storyline and background. Other films that featured Singapore and Singaporean actors are Saint Jack and They Call Her Cleopatra, as well as runaway Hollywood success, Crazy Rich Asians.

Employment options range from Mediacorp to independent local film houses, like Huat Films and Freeflow Productions.

Skills needed: Whether you want to make a documentary, short film, or full-length feature film, flexibility and creativity are musts. Effective communication and interpersonal skills are also needed in order to impart your vision both orally and in the written form. Moreover, problem-solving skills are vital, and strong decision-making skills are required, as decisions may have to be made without all information on hand, and issues may pop up without warning during the filming and production process.

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#8: Media

The field of media encompasses a broad range of roles, from writers, copywriters and editors, all the way to broadcasters and reporters. But at the bottom of it all, responsibilities for roles in the media industry are almost all the same – to not only keep audiences abreast of all relevant recent happenings, but to do so in a manner that’s easily digestible and without bias. Raising awareness on pressing issues is another key responsibility, and can be done through content creation, or interviewing others and bringing the relevant information to light.

There are many avenues available, if this is the industry you’re interested in. For example, you can take up employment in a publishing house like Asiapac Books, and create, review and approve work before publishing. Alternatively, you can consider freelancing for various media platforms, such as Joomsphere Media.

Skills needed: No matter which type of media you decide to enter, strong interpersonal skills and robust communication skills – both written and verbal – are essential to get your messages across to your audience effectively, as well as when collaborating with talents, colleagues and staff alike. Creativity is also needed, as are research skills, an eye for detail, empathy and patience. Commercial awareness is also a boon, along with a strong understanding of market trends.

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#9: Historian or curator

In the fields of history and/or art, you’ll be involved in the documentation and study of important historical events, and maintenance of relevant artefacts, respectively. Although responsibilities can potentially be similar – common ground for both historians and curators tend to be museums – they don’t usually overlap.

However, you should also take note that you may have to pursue the relevant higher studies in order to enter these industries. For example, historians usually hold a Master of Art (MA) in History, and employers typically require curators to hold similar postgraduate degrees in MA. In addition, curators may be required to travel with touring exhibitions, like Titanic The Exhibition, in order to continue the preservation process.

Skills needed: Excellent interpersonal skills are needed in these roles, along with solid written and verbal communication skills. Cultural sensitivity, empathy and patience are other required skills. Due to the large amounts of information and artefacts to be handled, project management, time management and organisational skills are also essential.

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#10: Social work

If you would rather concentrate your attention on community development and intervention on the behalf of distressed individuals and communities, you can consider becoming a professional in this sector. As social workers work tirelessly to improve welfare, bridge social gaps and address social injustices, responsibilities tend to centre around care, empowerment and rehabilitative programmes.

There are many areas in this sector you can explore, from working with vulnerable communities through organisations like Care Corner Singapore, to more focused individual care for adults with disabilities or mental health conditions, with help from programmes created by the National Council of Social Services and Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Skills needed: Being an empathetic active listener is key to being a social worker. On top of that, you also need solid communication and interpersonal skills, coupled with a lot of patience. Moreover, as you’ll likely be juggling several cases simultaneously, organisational, project management and time management skills are required. Because no two cases are the same, adaptability and problem-solving skills are advantages, too.

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With the wide range of transferable skills you have, these are just some areas of work you can explore with your humanities degree. Just take note that for most of these roles, you may have to begin your career journey in administrative roles to learn the ropes, before you start progressing up the career ladder.