Do you have to get a job in your degree subject?

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April 23, 2021
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Do you have to get a job in your degree subject?

The job market and the way we work are constantly changing. What is now considered a normal career trajectory would have been unthinkable a few decades ago (have you ever tried explaining digital nomad remote jobs and the gig economy to your grandparents?)

If the current state of employment comes with its downsides, it certainly has great benefits too. Work has never been so flexible, and switching career paths is a popular choice.

In fact, as many as 59% of professionals participating in a 2019 Indeed survey stated that they would accept a lower salary if that meant they could change industries. 

But is a pay cut necessary to change careers? Can you get a job outside of your degree path without great sacrifices?

In this article, you will learn that your career is not set in stone and that there are many steps you can take to land a job in a different field than your degree. 

Does your degree determine your career?

Your uni majors and departments don’t determine your career — you do. The four or more years that you spend at university represent only a relatively short chapter in your life and career. You are the writer of your own book, deciding what direction the next page should take.

So if you’re graduating high school and stressing out about your next step, take a deep breath. You may be scared of following your passion because you think that a History degree won’t take you places. Or, on the opposite, you wish you could study what you really like but your family and friends strongly encourage you in a different direction.

Relax. Throughout and after the formative years that are coming next, the experiences, contacts, and skills you develop will matter more than the actual subject written on the final certificate (of course, this matters too and there are exceptions, especially for those who want to enter academia.)

It may sound cheesy, but choosing something you’re passionate about is always a smart move. And you will always be in time to change your mind.

There are no useless degrees

If you think that some degrees are ‘useless’, then think again. According to the US Bureau of Labor, college graduates holding any degree earn an average of 61% more than non-college graduates. 

And if you graduate with a 2:1 or higher, you can expect to earn 7 to 9% more than your peers with less impressive results, according to a study published by the London School of Economics.

Ultimately, the value of your degree depends on the use you make of it. Sure, there are more and less prestigious universities and advanced degrees and placements that require specific certificates. 

But for the majority of professionals, it’s all about convincing a prospective employer that you have what it takes in terms of skills and motivation and can use your degree to help achieve the organisation’s goals.

How to get a job unrelated to your degree

Have you already decided to explore a new field? Here are 3 tips to change industry fast, even if you have a degree in a completely unrelated subject.

Network in the industry of your choice

No one will have better advice for you than the professionals who already work in your field of choice. With a bit of luck, you may be able to find a mentor and find out about quality opportunities that are right for your profile. 

Growing your network is invaluable and may be much easier than you think. Try to:

  • Be more active on LinkedIn, publishing your thoughts, asking questions and commenting on other people’s posts
  • Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops 
  • Ask people in your current network (including friends and family members) to introduce you to relevant professionals they may know
  • Stay in touch with university colleagues and professors, school mates, and old friends

Turn your hobby into a side hustle

Have you been learning about a new field but cannot afford to go through an internship/can’t find an opportunity for work experience? Create one yourself.

Say you want to be a designer but no one will hire you full-time. Offer your services to local businesses or friends who need a website revamp. Want to get into publishing but don’t have a Literature degree? Start an online literary magazine, organise book clubs and events at your local library, or open a ‘bookstragram’ account on social media. 

During job interviews, you’ll be able to show initiative, entrepreneurship, and tangible results.

Upskill and learn new languages

Research shows that if you learn a second language, you can see your current salary increased by 10%. So if you wanted to brush up on your A-level French, this is a good time.

And what if you already have a degree in languages but don’t want to work in the field? You may have realised that you don’t want to become a freelance translator with your Spanish degree, after all, and compete in a saturated market.

Don’t worry — languages are among the most transferable skills in the job market. You could use them to work in an international organisation or even earn a higher salary abroad in your field of choice.

Want to know how? You can contact My Language Lab today and speak to our experts about your needs.


Can I get a job outside of my degree?

In general, yes. It all depends on the specific job you’re after and the transferable skills you can count on. Very few jobs (for example, highly specialised and technical positions in STEM) require you to go through a defined and rigid educational path.

If that is the case, you will likely have to go back to school and add courses, training, or entire degrees to your education. In most other cases, you can take easier steps to change your career direction.