English often gets a bad rap as a major that doesn’t have a lot to offer when it comes to job options. The fact is, the knowledge and skillset developed over the course of earning an English degree can set you up quite well for in-demand roles across multiple industries.
What Can You Do with a Degree in English?
When exploring what you can do with a degree in English, we need to first break down the skills that you will be able to market and employ in the jobs you seek.
Gain Critical Thinking Skills
For example, one of the most essential skills sought by employers is one sorely lacking in many of today’s degree programs – critical thinking. Any English degree worth its salt will require higher cognitive reasoning to understand and analyze a wide range of authors, characters, themes, plots, and styles in world and English literature. A close reading of diverse authors and texts exposes students to timeless global issues that not only help English majors navigate and develop an informed worldview but also teach them to look at issues from multiple angles to offer holistic, creative solutions. Exposure to a breadth of literature also imbues students with an understanding of multiculturalism and the power of language.
Gain Writing and Verbal Communication Skills
The writing and communication skills cultivated by the English major are also highly marketable assets in any industry. By identifying the techniques and impact of successful writers, students develop their expressive abilities, increase empathy for others, and discover their own voices and styles through written discourse. The research aspect of the degree also reinforces critical thinking skills and develops resourcefulness in finding and assimilating diverse information. Whether writing to persuade, educate, critique, move, or challenge, skilled, strong communication is foundational to nearly every aspect of an organization’s operations. The same holds true for the spoken word. Demonstrating an ability to artfully communicate verbally for presentations, meetings, interviews, and public appearances can give you a powerful advantage in the corporate setting.
Jobs for an English Major
So, how do these skills translate into the working world? What jobs can you get with an English degree? While English can open doors in many settings, here are a few of the more interesting jobs for English majors to pursue upon graduation and beyond.
Particularly if you are more interested in writing and speaking, public relations can be the perfect communications-adjacent career for the English major. Likely starting as a PR specialist, you can gain experience creating distinct messaging for an organization in the form of press releases, correspondence, speeches, articles, internal documents, campaigns, and more. You may also serve as a spokesperson to the media or at events. Whether you work for a large PR firm or a small private company, being the voice of a business can lead to more responsibility over time and eventually into a leadership or management role.
Reviewing short or long copy to verify facts, check grammar, assess cohesion, rework text, and evaluate print worthiness are all parts of the editor’s job. Whether you work alone or as part of a team, your expertise can help you advance to managing editor, where you will assign articles and manage a writing team. This can be done at a newspaper, publishing house, magazine, or in the entertainment industry. Roles for editing also exist inside higher education, the government, and industries such as real estate and health care.
Akin to editing, this role focuses more narrowly on ensuring documents or manuscripts are error-free before being printed or disseminated to the public. If you like attention to detail, or if it drives you crazy to see “there” when “their” is the correct homophone, then proofreading might be a good career fit for you.
If you enjoy taking the nuts and bolts of information and turning them into easily digestible copy, technical writing could become a lucrative career, making upwards of $74,000 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Technical writers usually prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.
Providing the most flexibility, freelance writing allows you to work on your schedule, have as many or few jobs and clients as you want, and set your pay scale. Of course, you will need to develop a portfolio that showcases your work and be diligent to get your name out there, but if you have the patience and income flexibility to pursue this option, it can be very rewarding. Many freelance writers hold another full or part-time job while they are building up their reputation and clientele before branching into full-time freelance work.
Like communications, English is also akin to journalism. The savvy English major can often transition into journalism or reporting with the right credentials. That’s why college internships, working on the school paper, or being a broadcaster on the college radio station can prove invaluable. If you like digging for a story and writing it in a way that grabs the public’s interest, journalism is worth exploring. Whether behind the scenes or the microphone, there are many creative jobs within this career option.
Again, the right skills and credentials can land the English major a job in the marketing department of a corporation, non-profit, government agency, or professional firm. You can put your creative writing skills and unique communication style to work writing marketing copy for advertisements, blogs, fundraising campaigns, social media, infographics, and advertorials, as well as articles or messaging for an array of other marketing materials. College internships or volunteer work can boost your experience and portfolio in preparation for landing a job in this exciting field.
What Masters Degrees Can an English Major Pursue?
In addition to careers related directly to English, an online degree in English can lay the groundwork for other occupations. To customize your experience, Ottawa University offers our secondary education concentration. Additionally, the writing, research, and critical thinking skills of an English program are great for a wide range of graduate degrees. For example, graduates may want to pursue a Masters in Education. Other masters-level training can prepare the English major to become an author, a book or movie critic, a publisher, or a college professor.
Best College for English Majors
Why get a degree in English? Because it holds power. The next time someone says how much they hate the subject of English (we’ve all heard it!), just nod understandingly and know that your love of language, literature, and writing is going to give you a secret weapon towards landing a satisfying and unique career. In fact, an online degree in English from Ottawa University is one of the most versatile degrees you can earn. It develops broad skills that are highly marketable for diverse roles in diverse industries. And if you make the most of your college experience by securing entry-level jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities to augment your education, you will be ahead of the game when qualifying for positions right out of the graduation gate. In addition to online, take a closer look at the degree programs offered at our locations in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix.
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