Career opportunity for people with humanities degrees in South Africa 2017

12:36 SA VARSITY STUDENT 0 Comments

career opportunities for people with humanities degrees
Photo by Joanna

I know a lot of people who have graduated from university and spend a year or more at home without being able to find a “good” job. This is due to many reasons but it’s what academics would call a skills mismatch. South Africa is lacking in technical skills and that’s where the major shortage is and there are many people with humanities degrees which are not in high demand in this country, this results in more unemployment as people graduate and stop being students, they then get classified as unemployed since they are not able to find jobs. Those that do find jobs end up doing jobs like being waiters/waitresses or being receptionists, which are all jobs you could have gotten without spending hundreds of thousands of Rands on a university degree (plus some people still have to pay back nsfas).

But wait…does this mean you should not study humanities? No, it just means you have to widen your scope and be more creative when you are looking for a job and you have to do things that make you stand out from others with the same qualification.

Where can humanities graduates find jobs?


Okay okay, I have kept you waiting long enough, so…While looking for some part time work opportunities online (indeed.co.za) I started to see a trend when searching for writing jobs or social media marketing jobs or SEO (search engine optimization) jobs. All the jobs seemed to have the same requirements such as you had to have a writing related degree such as journalism/English or a BA degree as a minimum requirement and you have to have some experience writing for an online audience e.g. blogging or writing for a publication. Not all of these jobs require that you have a degree, writing experience is more important. So basically if you had a BA degree and were proficient in English all you have to do is to gain some experience writing by either starting a blog about something you are passionate about so that you can use it as a reference later in your CV, learn what SEO is as you will need to know that to know how to write blog titles that rank well on google and attract people to click and a host of other stuff that I will not go over in this post. Or you could start emailing online publications and asking to contribute pieces you are passionate about, some publications have a submission tab on their websites which makes writing and submitting articles easy e.g BizCommunity

The other option is to do a one year short course to do with the internet be it web marketing, social media or SEO while having your own blog and testing out everything you are learning, that way you would increase your employability as you have added a sort of technical skill in which there is a growing need for as more and more people in South Africa are turning to the internet.

Alternatively you could just go back to university and do a one year conversion course (GDE) to become a teacher, last I checked the government sponsors people studying teaching as we have a shortage of teachers in this country. If you like moulding this country’s future that could be the answer for you and the starting salary is not bad for teachers with degrees with the average high school teacher earning R 190 172 per annum according to payscale.

getting a job with a humanities degree in south africa
Phote by Linda Swart

 Some added tips to increase your employability:


While you are still studying you must go volunteer at institutions in the field you think you might want to work in future, or find vac work there, you will gain some experience and it will look good on your CV. The more work experience you get, in relevant fields the better. Waitressing as a job reference for a writing job is useless as it does not show your writing ability so it’s not relevant. Employers need to see that you are hardworking and a go getter, they need to see that you were like that even while you were still studying. Join a club in university, and become its leader, something like the SRC, do more extra curricula stuff like writing for your varsity newspaper, don't just party with your friends the whole weekend. Sometimes just studying and getting a degree is not enough, you have to stand out from the crowd. That is something that is drilled constantly in American people’s heads as even getting into university is competitive, here in SA not so much.


There are more opportunities in cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg because that is where most start-up companies looking to grow are based especially in the writing/internet section. Moving back home to a small town actually decreases your chances of finding a job as there are less jobs there.

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