A love of literature and language prompts many college students to pursue an English major. As mastering English builds a number of skill sets, graduates have many career options available to them. The earlier you begin planning for your future, the easier the transition between school and professional life. Unless you plan to attend graduate school after college, start drafting your transition plan at the beginning of your junior year. Brainstorm possible careers, perform research, and consult trusted friends and family for advice.
No matter how you proceed after reading this article, rest assured that English majors possess multiple career options that range from the classroom to the boardroom. Your career path may end up requiring additional training or education, but as an English major you already possess the vast majority of the skills necessary to succeed.
Skills Gained in an English Program
Students earning their undergraduate or graduate degrees from one of the best colleges for English majors develop a set of valuable skills applicable to countless career paths. These skills include communication, critical thinking, organization, research, writing, and grammar. In class, students hone these skills through discussion, essays, and research papers. Graduates go on to refine their skills throughout their careers by completing training and earning certifications. In the bullet points below, you can learn more about these skills and their importance to English professionals after graduation.
Students majoring in English focus on improving their reading, writing, and speaking skills. With excellent communication skills, graduates can successfully market themselves to potential employers that may not have initially considered hiring them.
- Critical Thinking
Through analyzing literature, English majors hone their critical-thinking skills. Well-paying jobs for English majors value applicants who possess highly developed critical-thinking skills. These applicants possess the ability to view an issue or problem from multiple angles and suggest appropriate solutions.
Employers in every industry value organized employees who stay on task, meet deadlines, and successfully manage projects. English majors can improve their organizational skills by maintaining a professional calendar, investing in organizational materials or apps, and volunteering to lead groups of peers when taking part in class projects.
English majors write many research papers and therefore understand how to research topics and how to turn that research into written reports. Many jobs for English majors ask applicants to provide an example of their research skills, such as a copy of a research paper. Once hired, employees put these skills to work through creating projects such as white papers and website copy.
- Writing and Grammar
Many employers stop reading applicants’ resumes if they discover writing and grammatical errors. For this reason, English majors who perfect their writing and grammar skills possess an advantage over other applicants.
Why Pursue a Career in English?
A career in English opens a plethora of career pathways, which allows English majors considerable flexibility when planning for their careers. Graduates can use their strong liberal arts backgrounds to show potential employers that they can adapt their skills to nearly any set of job responsibilities. Adaptability and flexibility are key traits to have when looking for a career and trying to prove yourself to potential employers.
English majors can succeed in many high-paying jobs that offer career advancement opportunities. Recent graduates should expect that entry-level jobs for English majors pay slightly less than entry-level positions in other fields such as engineering. However, these jobs include the ability for employees to continue their educations through professional development and advanced degrees — both of which raise salary potential.
Beyond external motivations, many students pursue a career in English simply because literature and writing represent their passion in life. Most students want to study for a career where they can put their interests to good use. If you frame your career search in this way, you can discover the career that’s best for you.
How Much Do English Majors Make?
An English major’s salary depends on many factors. The industry you choose affects your salary the most as the largest companies and organizations offer high starting salaries to entice the best applicants. Once hired, your job function is also a significant determining factor. In most cases, your salary should improve as you accumulate professional experience and receive promotions.
Two professionals who perform the same job function at the same company can earn unequal salaries if they live in different parts of the country; their salaries can also vary if they possess different degrees. Below, you can learn more about the median salaries for English majors by degree type.
Graduate Degree Wage Program$15,000 (28%)
Meet an English Major Professional
Jonathan YagelVice President of Marketing and Engagement — Spire Labs
Jonathan Yagel is the vice president of marketing and engagement for Spire Labs, where he was a founding team member. Spire Labs is a digital innovation and app development company that has built Spire, Rove, and Peak. Jonathan is responsible for all business development; channel partnerships; growth and user acquisition initiatives; and messaging and media relations for the company. He is a founding member of the Forbes Business Development Council, a member of the Sandbox community, and a former World Record holder for most high fives in one minute.
Jonathan holds a bachelor’s and master’s in English from the University of Virginia and lives in Nashville with his wife, Jillian.
Why did you decide on an English degree?
I actually used an inductive, rather than deductive, methodology: For my first several semesters, I simply chose the classes that seemed most deeply interesting. By the end of my second year (when I had to choose a major), I’d taken a wide range of courses across the liberal arts . . . but English courses were most predominantly represented, both in courses I’d already taken and in courses I was still excited to take. I’ve always loved to read, and the opportunity to focus on fiction and to explore the power of language was a very appealing framework for my continued studies.
What are some of the most useful skills you gained throughout your English program?
“Writing well” seems to be the default answer, which is accurate in that it’s representative of a broader ability to organize one’s thoughts and clearly communicate them. However, I also believe that studying English provides the student with the ability to study humanity in a unique way — through how we have represented ourselves, throughout history. Fiction brings together art and philosophy and history and psychology and anything else that has to do with humans and presents not only what people have done or are doing, but what they want to do and could possibly do. Fiction trades in possibilities and potentialities, which is good mental exercise.
What would you say to people who argue against liberal arts degrees such as English? Why is a strong liberal arts background so valuable today?
This is a really large question! So, to give an over-simplified answer, I believe the liberal arts provide us with the opportunity to study and reflect on the things that make us truly human. English and English literature, in particular, are very focused on communication and narrative, and a deeper understanding of those things increases our capacity of understanding ourselves and everyone around us.
What advice would you give students who are on the fence about earning a graduate degree in English? Is it worth it?
I would say that really depends on your intended career. My situation was unique, because I was able to complete my master’s in just one year and, with in-state tuition, it was relatively inexpensive. So, I was able to use this additional year to more deeply explore some of the academic topics and themes that I’d begun to pursue in undergrad.
It really depends on what you’re looking for from your degree! On the one hand, having “English major” on your resume will likely not make you particularly competitive for your first job . . . but on the other hand, after your first job, your major doesn’t matter all that much. I would focus on studying something in which you can really immerse yourself. The ability to deeply study something, to do independent research, to develop original analysis and communicate your thoughts . . . all of those are priceless in the professional world. I’ve found that people are more apt to be able to develop those skills when studying about which they’re really passionate.
I’m always a little concerned when I hear that someone tells me they think that studying something they hate will get them a job they love. It’s possible . . . but employers tend to want employees who will work hard. And employees tend to work hard, when they love what they do.
Beyond the professional implications, spending four years learning to read carefully and write clearly will serve you immensely well in your personal life. We are all inundated with information, every day, and the ability to process all of it and communicate your own perspective will help you in every aspect of your life.
In most situations, though, given the high financial cost and significant time commitment, the undergrad-to-grad transition is generally a moment to determine whether you are interested in a professional career in the world of academics. If you are interested in teaching, researching, and academic publishing, then, by all means go for it! However, if you’re unsure about what you’re interested in doing, I wouldn’t recommend pursuing grad school just as a means to put off that decision. I would say that is just as true for professional grad schools (law, medical, business school) as it is for liberal arts grad programs.
For someone who’s on the fence, I would recommend joining the working world for a little while and see how it goes. If you find yourself pining for academia, then definitely go back to grad school. But, again, I wouldn’t recommend it as a default.
How was your job search after graduating? How did you end up in your current position?
After undergrad, I did a one-year master’s program through the English department, which allowed me to take grad-school classes during my senior year and then write my thesis and complete the remaining coursework during my fifth year.
After grad school, I moved to Brazil for the better part of year to be a teacher at a trade school for a low-income community with a nonprofit called Seeds of Hope. I’d developed a relationship with SOH and the school through spring break trips during undergrad, and I supported myself through fundraising. After Brazil, I was expecting to join the advertising world as a copywriter and already talked with a lot of people in that industry . . . however, my plans were thrown off when I had to leave Brazil early and rather suddenly based on a visa renewal issue.
So coming back to the U.S., I was sleeping on a friend’s couch, sending out as many applications as possible. I primarily focused on places where friends were working, both to give me a sense for what the work experience was like and to hopefully provide a favorable recommendation to the hiring team. In the meantime, a friend of my brother’s was starting a company, so I contacted him and asked if I could help out. He was open to it, so I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to become the first full-time business hire. I fully expected to only stay for a few months (if the company even lasted that long), but the company went on to survive and grow, and I discovered a love for the tech startup world.
Almost eight years later, I’m actually still at the same company! The company is called Spire Labs and has continued to evolve. In general, we are a technology innovation and app development company and have built a variety of products in several different industries, from consumer health apps to employer wellness platforms to, most recently, a new personal finance app called Peak (which, fittingly enough, is focused on helping recent graduates to stress less and save more). Personally, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to try out a lot of different roles, from marketing to PR to business development to account management to strategy to operations to management.
What additional advice would you give English majors entering the job market?
If you’re still in school, the biggest advice I have is: Don’t rely on your major to get you a job. Start exploring career paths that interest you as soon as possible. Reach out to professionals you admire to ask questions. Someone once told me to “Dig your well before you’re thirsty,” and that very much applies here. Take advantage of your school’s resources (alumni networks can be a magical thing), but also seek out any person you’re interested in emulating.
As for when you’ve actually crossed over . . . The biggest lesson I learned, transitioning into the working world, was the importance of initiative. In school, the entire institution is structured to keep you occupied and provide a clear path. The curriculum is provided for you, and the best way to succeed is to color inside the lines. In the real world, it’s vital that you be able to be self-motivated and take it upon yourself to identify problems and propose solutions. This was particularly apparent in the deeply unstructured environment of a tech startup, but the ability to take responsibility for your own work and your own path is the foundation for success in any role or industry.
So, in general: Take courage. The downside of being an English major is that it doesn’t have an automatic career path attached to it . . . but the upside is that there’s no predetermined path for an English major. It can be frightening, but you have the opportunity to blaze your own trail. Because of the breadth of possible applications, your English degree will serve you well, wherever you go . . . but it’s up to you to decide where that will be.
Educational Path for English Majors
Earning Your Degree
As with most career paths, you will require a bachelor’s degree if you plan to gain employment in an entry-level career for English majors. A bachelor’s degree conveys to potential employers that you possess English-related skills and completed a well-rounded liberal arts education. Graduates with associate degrees might find similar career opportunities, although they typically earn lower salaries compared to employees with bachelor’s degrees.
If your career goals center on research-intensive English careers such as a college professor, researcher, or adviser, you should earn a master’s or doctoral degree. These degree paths emphasize independent research and producing scholarly work such as doctoral dissertations; dissertations can be useful when it comes time to apply for jobs, as they are a way for you to demonstrate your education and capabilities.
From the associate to the doctoral level, students can earn their English degrees through online programs. Online programs permit students to complete coursework on a more flexible basis, which is particularly convenient to those balancing school, jobs, and family lives. Many online programs boast lower tuition than those that are on-campus — plus, students who attend online programs do not pay for room and board, transportation, or childcare costs.
How Many Years Does it Take to Enter This Field?
If you select an online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program, many factors determine the length of time required to earn your degree. Associate degrees typically take two years to complete. You can then transfer your credits to a bachelor’s program, which requires an additional two years to complete. An undergraduate education involves approximately 120 college credits. Many master’s programs also require two years and an additional 45-60 credits. The length of a doctoral program varies the most, as the majority of your time in the program consists of researching and writing a dissertation. On average, students take 4-6 years to earn their doctorates and earn 90-120 credits in the process. If your career goal requires you to earn a professional license, such as a teaching license, you may need to complete additional requirements outside of those related to your degree.
Beyond course requirements, your program’s learning model also influences how long you remain in school. In an individual pace program, you can take as many or as few courses as you please each semester. In a cohort learning program, you take a set number of courses each semester with the same group of classmates. Students in cohort learning programs typically graduate in less time than students in individual pace programs.
Concentrations Available for English Majors
As with many academic majors, English majors can select a concentration that matches their interests and career aspirations. Choosing a concentration begins at the bachelor’s level, when students take specialized courses exclusive to their concentrations. In these courses, students learn with like-minded peers and form their first professional relationships. These courses appear more frequently at the master’s and doctoral level, when students refine their concentration to match their interests and career goals. Below, you can learn more about popular concentrations available to English majors.
- Creative Writing
Creative writing courses ask students to write original short stories, poems, and creative nonfiction. Students who excel in these courses often go on to publish their work in professional magazines and journals. Many graduates who concentrate in creative writing work in fields such as marketing, advertising, and sales. These industries need outside-the-box thinkers who can hook and engage potential customers and clients.
- Literature and Cultural Studies
In literature and cultural studies, students explore the intertwined relationship between literature and culture. Many students who select this concentration double major in a field such as history or political science. Students who excel in a literature and culture concentration typically become teachers, professors, or researchers.
- Film Studies
Film studies asks students to view film as literature. In film studies courses, students examine both scripts and film techniques to gain a better appreciation for the medium. After graduation, some students who concentrate in film studies go on to film school, while others become screenwriters.
Rhetoric involves persuasive speaking and writing. Students concentrating or majoring in rhetoric often join their schools’ debate teams or other clubs where they can practice their rhetorical skills. Students talented in rhetoric often excel in the law field; attorneys require strong persuasive speaking and writing skills to succeed at their jobs.
- Gender Studies
Gender studies represents an interdisciplinary field covering gender topics such as feminism and the LGBTQ+ community. This concentration asks students to use many of the same skills as their English courses — analyzing texts, performing research, and writing papers. After graduation, English majors with a concentration in gender studies often work at nonprofits and other organizations that promote gender equality.
What Can I Do With an English Degree?
Careers available to English majors hinge on the type of degree earned. The bachelor’s degree represents the minimum level of education required to work in the most lucrative positions. However, graduates often need additional education and training to advance to management-level positions within their jobs. Some companies and organizations pay for employees to earn their master’s degrees if the employees agree to stay at the company. Only at the master’s and doctoral levels do graduates gain the ability to teach at the college level.
In addition to marketing, many English majors who graduate with a bachelor’s or master’s degree teach at the primary or secondary level. Others work at publications as fact checkers, writers, or proofreaders. After gaining experience in one or more fields, some English majors branch off to become self-employed freelance writers.
Associate Degree in English
Graduates with an associate degree in English can work in many career fields. Although these jobs pay less than positions intended for graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees, those with an associate degree can still advance up the corporate ladder to more lucrative positions. If you begin working after earning your associate degree in English, you may decide to return to school to earn your bachelor’s degree. When interviewing, ask potential employers if they provide employees with incentives for earning advanced degrees. Also, taking a job after earning your associate degree can help you fund an online bachelor’s degree program.
- Teacher Assistant
Teacher assistants work in the classroom alongside licensed classroom teachers. Their duties include managing student behavior, organizing materials, and instructing students in the teacher’s absence. English majors possess the skills necessary to help younger students, such as those in preschool and kindergarten, learn essential reading and writing skills. Many teacher assistants go on to become licensed teachers through additional education and training.
- Preschool Teacher
Preschool teachers teach young children the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in elementary school. Instructional topics include spelling, writing, basic math, and interpersonal skills. As with teacher assistants, English majors’ knowledge of the English language gives them a tremendous advantage when teaching children reading and writing fundamentals.
- Library Technician
Library technicians help visitors find materials, shelve returned items, and maintain basic recordkeeping. English majors often excel in this position as they can share their love of literature, books, and knowledge with library visitors. Library technicians may return to school to earn a degree in library science.
- Freelance Writer
Freelance writers work for different companies on a contract basis. They produce high-quality products such as white papers, website copy, and blog posts. English majors excel in this profession as they can consistently create clean, error-free copy. Freelance writing represents an exciting job opportunity for creative writers; they apply their creativity toward producing engaging copy.
- Desktop Publisher
Desktop publishers keep track of all written materials produced by large companies or organizations. Much of their work involves ensuring that every piece of published material contains no errors and that the content and tone match the intended audience. English majors’ editing skills make them strong candidates for desktop publishing positions.
Bachelor’s Degree in English
Earning a bachelor’s in English opens up a broader range of related jobs to explore, and the average salary earned increases as well. Students in bachelor’s programs complete a rigorous and well-rounded liberal arts education that includes many advanced English courses. Students also choose a concentration during this time. Students should focus on choosing a concentration that is closely related to their ultimate career goal.
Editors review their employers’ work to check both grammar and content. Senior editors earn a higher salary due to their expertise and ability to lead teams. Companies that hire editors often require that applicants graduated from a four-year college or university. They may make exceptions if applicants possess a robust professional writing portfolio.
- Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists advocate on behalf of their employers. They oversee marketing campaigns, give interviews to the press, and research ways to raise the company’s public awareness. English majors concentrating in creative writing can excel in this career, as all public relations specialists require strong creative and problem-solving skills.
- High School Teacher
High school teachers instruct students in grades 9-12. Besides teaching one or more subjects, high school teachers often lead student clubs or coach sports. Although a bachelor’s in English qualifies graduates to become English teachers, many English teachers also gain certification in related subjects to increase their chances of obtaining employment.
- Grants Administrator
Grants administrators use their research, writing, and organizational skills to manage grants at their company or organization. They ensure that grant recipients follow the stipulated rules and coordinate grant-related activities with other employees. English majors work well in this position; their liberal arts and English background prepare them to juggle the position’s many responsibilities successfully.
- Technical Writer
Unlike freelance writers, most technical writers work for one company as a full-time employee. Their job duties include writing technical manuals and instructions for company staff and clients. English majors with bachelor’s degrees possess both the writing and editing skills required to excel at this demanding position.
Authors work for themselves, producing creative writing products for companies and organizations. Many authors supplement their incomes through writing fiction or creative nonfiction. As clients desire a mix of experience and education when hiring authors for projects, a bachelor’s degree represents the minimum education required for the position.
Journalists research sources to write stories on a range of topics relevant to readers. English majors with strong writing, editing, and interpersonal skills possess the ability to seek out sources and write cutting-edge articles. English majors interested in journalism should consider minoring in the subject or writing for their student newspapers or other campus publications.
Master’s Degree in English
Professionals who possess bachelor’s often return to school as a way to advance their careers and salary potential. Master’s in English graduates, and those who earned related degrees such as a master’s in creative writing, possess a unique skill set. Not only do students hone their writing and editorial skills during their master’s programs, they also guide their educations toward specializations such as research, rhetoric, or a specific period of literature. Students who select the latter often go on to earn their doctorate in English or work as a college lecturer. Students who earn a master’s in English or creative writing can do so online, allowing them to continue working while they complete their degrees.
- ESL Teacher
ESL Teachers help immigrants master the English language. They often work in elementary, middle, and high schools, teaching specialized classes to accelerate students’ English language acquisition. In addition to possessing a master’s in English, ESL teachers often speak, read, and write at least one other language besides English.
- Postsecondary Teacher (Community College)
In community colleges around the nation, postsecondary teachers help recent high school graduates and nontraditional students master different academic topics. A master’s in English qualifies graduates to work as an English or literature instructor. Postsecondary teachers require additional education if they aspire to become college or university professors.
- Communications Director
Communications directors manage their companies or organizations’ public relations staff. They also oversee all information that their employers’ release and act as their employers’ public face when they give interviews to the press. A master’s in English with a concentration in rhetoric prepares graduates for this fast-paced, demanding career.
- Editorial Director
From media to advertising, editorial directors work to market their employers’ services and products. Job duties include developing business contacts, managing teams of editors, and developing plans to increase editorial productivity while reducing costs. As creative thinking plays an essential role in this position, candidates with a master’s in English or creative writing offer potential employers a valuable skill set.
Doctoral Degree in English
The doctoral degree in English represents the field’s terminal degree. The majority of students who pursue a doctorate in English plan to work as professors, department chairs, or other high-paying positions at the collegiate level, while others do so simply for personal interest. Doctoral program graduates apply their superior organizational, reading, writing, and time management skills to ensure that they excel at their chosen careers.
- Department Chair (College or University)
At colleges and universities, department chairs act as their department’s executive. They supervise lecturers and professors to ensure that the department follows all rules and regulations. As the position requires education and experience, college professors should attain at least 10 years of experience before applying for department chair positions.
- Professor (Postsecondary)
Tenured professors at colleges and universities teach a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses, mentor graduate students, and publish research or other written work that benefits their employers’ academic reputations. English professor positions require a doctorate in English and a compelling dissertation that grabs employers’ interest.
Provosts represent college and universities’ upper management. They review all data about their schools and devise recommendations and strategies to fix problems and promote growth. They also play an important role in hiring new staff. A doctorate in English, combined with experience as a professor and department chair, prepares professionals for this position.
Other Career Paths for English Majors
English majors often choose careers not directly related to their field of study. In fact, an English degree provides graduates with an extremely flexible skill set that serves them well in many careers, and these skills include much more than the ability to write accurately. Many English majors possess high levels of creative thinking, and companies treasure employees who possess this ability.
In the workplace, English majors may require additional training or professional development to adapt to other career paths. However, their well-rounded education prepares them to become lifelong learners who take an active role in their professional development. In the sections below, you can see how careers in English extend much further than the classroom. If any of these careers interest you, consider earning a second major or minoring in that subject. A double major or minor could assist in your job hunt after graduation.
Advertising and Marketing
In advertising and marketing, employees use their creativity to develop and implement campaigns that promote their employers’ products or services. English majors, especially those gifted at creative writing, fit well into this field, as they possess the ability to make valuable contributions that result in hooking and maintaining potential clients’ interest.
Three career paths within the advertising and marketing field include advertising copywriter, marketing associate, and advertising manager. Job seekers with a bachelor’s in English possess all the skills necessary to produce excellent, enticing copy as an advertising copywriter. Marketing associates perform research, write copy, and complete other assigned tasks. After gaining experience, English majors can work as advertising managers. Advertising managers collaborate with other managers and direct the actions of the department’s employees. At this level, English majors can make important decisions regarding an advertising campaign’s creative direction.
Business and Finance
In the business and finance field, highly trained professionals strive to grow their employers’ businesses through proactive decisions and the wise investment of capital. Although English majors may not initially consider a career in these fields, their education gives them many advantages over other job applicants. English majors possess the entry-level skills professionals need to succeed in the business and finance fields.
When researching careers, take note of opportunities as a project manager assistant, employee benefits analyst, and entry-level promotional marketing specialist. Project manager assistants help project managers with administrative tasks and other duties. Professionals in this role benefit from extensive on-the-job training that might lead to promotion as a project manager.
Employee benefits analysts use their research skills to analyze the impact of companies’ benefits packages on employee acquisition and retention. Their reports influence companies’ short and long-term benefits decisions. Entry-level promotional marketing specialists apply their creativity to create marketing campaigns. Creative writing majors in particular can flourish in this position.
Many people incorrectly assume that the legal field consists solely of lawyers. However, there are dozens of professionals in every law firm that work to support lawyers and grow the firm’s reputation and client base. As law stresses research and writing skills, English majors can readily find fulfilling employment in this field.
If law interests you, consider a career as a paralegal, legal assistant, or entry-level office lead. Legal assistants act as attorneys’ secretaries, completing assigned administrative work. Paralegals work as legal assistants, accomplishing tasks directly related to legal cases. Both paralegals and legal secretaries help attorneys prepare for trials. However, paralegals perform research and write reports as well. Due to their more specialized roles, paralegals earn significantly higher salaries than legal secretaries. Finally, entry-level office leads learn how to manage law offices. This position requires exceptional organizational and interpersonal skills.
Nonprofits represent organizations that work to advance a social cause. The money that nonprofits earn goes directly to their causes rather than to shareholders. As a result, the government exempts nonprofits from paying certain taxes. English majors interested in social or environmental justice can find many exciting career paths in the nonprofit field.
If you plan to work at a nonprofit after graduation, research careers as an outreach specialist, data entry specialist, and event representative. Outreach specialists link their organizations and the groups of people or causes the organizations work to benefit. This responsibility may involve matching individuals with social services or discussing environmental issues with local governments. Data entry specialists input and maintain data in their nonprofits’ computer systems. This data might include an evolving list of potential donors, a call list, or record keeping of their organization’s finances. Event representatives promote their nonprofits in public settings such as rallies, conferences, and other events open to the public.
Programmers and engineers may typify the technology sector, but even this field requires English majors’ skills. When a technology company creates a product or service, they need to convince potential customers to buy into their mission and eventually purchase their product. English majors help these companies bridge the gap between technology and the general public.
Three careers give English majors the opportunity to break into the technology sector: copywriter, copy editor, and sales assistant. Copywriters and copy editors work together to write and polish copy that turns difficult and dense engineering and technology concepts into something that everyone can understand. At the same time, these professionals apply their creative writing skills to persuade readers to buy their companies’ products and/or services. Sales assistants must also use their persuasive skills, as much of their job involves interacting with potential clients in person or over the phone.
Where Can I Work With an English Degree?
Every state boasts thousands, if not tens of thousands, of jobs applicable to English majors. However, urban areas typically have more open positions than suburban or rural areas. Also, as the economy evolves, industries that hire English majors expand and contract. Some locations already possess a significant population of English majors or those with similar skill sets; recent graduates will find it more difficult to compete in these job markets. In the sections below, you can learn more about how location and industry type affect where you can work with an English degree.
Once you earn your degree, the state where you reside directly influences the salary you earn. The cost of living varies between states — the more desirable a place is to live, the higher the cost of living. As a result, the same lifestyle in two parts of the country can require two very different salaries. When developing your career path, consider which part of the country can offer you both the best salary and the best cost of living. Using the map below, you can research the average cost of living in each state.
- Law Firm
The law firm industry handles client cases. Although lawyers make the highest salaries, English majors can work as paralegals or legal assistants. These roles include ample on-the-job training opportunities.
Average Salary: $36,000
- Public Relations and Special Events
In the public relations and special events field, professionals promote their companies and organizations by interacting with the public and press. English majors with strong interpersonal skills excel in this field.
Average Salary: $46,000
- Newspaper Publishing
The newspaper publishing industry informs readers of the latest news from around the world. English graduates in this industry often start work as entry-level copywriters or copyeditors.
Average Salary: $47,750
From preschools to colleges, professionals in the education field strive to educate the next generation. English majors in this field typically work as K-12 teachers.
Average Salary: $55,000
- Marketing Agency
Marketing agencies build marketing campaigns for clients. In addition to writing copy, English graduates often act as assistants to senior marketing strategists and other executives who serve as mentors.
Average Salary: $60,000
At the local, state, and national levels, the government bureaucracy executes elected officials’ laws and policies. English majors can apply their writing and organizational skills to start work in one of many entry-level positions where they can grow their careers.
Average Salary: $63,000
- Software Development
Software developers create the software present in every computer system. English majors work alongside software developers to develop written materials such as manuals, guides, and other products users require to operate software.
Average Salary: $78,451
How Do I Find a Job as an English Major?
No matter your academic major or career aspirations, a successful job search begins with a solid resume and strong interview skills. Your English major gives you an advantage in writing resumes and performing interviews. However, as other applicants may possess an academic background more relevant to the position you desire, you may consider additional training to bolster your resume. Educational resources exist for nearly every career field, and completing one or more certificates or specializations shows potential employers that you possess a high level of professional dedication.
Networking plays a vital role in helping you find your first job after graduation. Use the following three resources as a springboard to grow your professional network: Dear English Major, Making the Most of Your Major, and Careers in English. Once you polish your networking, resume, and interviewing skills, research the advertising, newspaper, and consulting industries. These industries employ the highest percentage of English majors. Expect that large metropolitan areas possess the majority of open positions relevant to your career interests.
Professional Resources for English Majors
- Sigma Tau Delta: Also known as the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta boasts chapters at nearly 900 undergraduate institutions. Students who excel at their English major receive an invitation to join. Membership benefits include academic scholarships, internships, and career advancement resources. All visitors to the Sigma Tau Delta website can access a limited selection of internship and career resources.
- Are There Jobs for English Majors?: In this informational article, readers learn about four English majors who took wildly different career paths after graduation. The article includes links that focus on various career fields and related topics such as whether to earn an advanced degree or enter the job field after earning your bachelor’s.
- Best Graduate English Programs: English majors planning to go to graduate school should consider this resource as their first step in choosing the best graduate English program. Compiled by U.S. News & World Report, this ranking permits users to perform advanced searches based on their intended specializations. U.S. News & World Report subscribers gain in-depth information on each program.
- The Write Jobs: The Write Jobs boasts an extensive list of open positions for English majors who want to forge a career in writing. Visitors can refine their searches by field such as remote work or freelance writing. Even if current openings do not match your career plans, visiting the site exposes you to the different jobs professional writers perform.
- Writers Guild of America West: This organization represents writers who produce scripts for film and television. As a first-time visitor to the guild’s website, you can learn more about the craft of writing and how to pursue a writing career in film and television. The WGAW also boasts valuable membership benefits that include health and life insurance.
- National Writers Union: Writers in any field may apply for membership, and benefits include a dental and vision plan, a grievance committee to help writers resolve contract disputes, and discounted legal assistance. On the NWU website, you can learn about the latest issues facing writers nationwide.
- National Council of Teachers of English: If you aspire to work as an English teacher after graduation, the NCTE can help you plan for your future career. NCTE members receive access to valuable teaching tools and classroom resources that can bring learning alive for students at all grade levels.
- We Are Teachers: Another excellent resource for students planning to go into education, We Are Teachers provides visitors with hundreds of informational articles on how to improve classroom instruction and build healthy student/teacher relationships. The website includes a special section containing career advice for teachers at all experience levels.
- BookJobs: BookJobs contains hundreds of excellent resources for English majors who aspire to work in the publishing industry. Visitors can quickly search for internship and publishing career opportunities. A list of upcoming publishing events where attendees can network with potential employers is also provided.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Outlook Handbook contains information on thousands of jobs. When researching potential careers, you can discover which states have the highest employment numbers, as well as projected job growth for specific careers.