It is a common misconception that pursuing an English degree will result in limited job prospects or being confined to working in the food and beverage industry. Humanities degrees, including English, provide students with a valuable set of skills applicable to numerous fields and industries. Proficient written and verbal communication abilities are essential in the execution of lab experiments, professional correspondences, and public speaking. The clarity and effectiveness of disseminating research results are critical to any research or experiment.
majors have diverse career options, beyond the realm of being bestselling authors. The skills of writing, critical analysis, and communication transfer seamlessly to various professions, such as politics, marketing, and public relations.
It is worth acknowledging that an English degree can also offer a promising salary. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in English earn an average salary of nearly $50,000 annually.
Our list identifies some of the most in-demand and profitable job opportunities for those who pursue an English degree.
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The role of a copywriter involves creating captivating and memorable advertisements, which can be a fulfilling opportunity for English majors who have a creative streak. Despite not aspiring to be the next bestselling author or poet, an English degree still presents versatile career options, such as copywriting. The job of a copywriter is dynamic, requiring the production of engaging and concise content suitable for various forms of media, including print, websites, and catalogs. The position demands plenty of creativity and imagination, as the content must attract and retain the intended audience of an agency, company, or client. Skilled copywriters also need to understand the techniques behind search engine optimization (SEO) and content strategy tools while keeping up with the changing advertising trends.
Copywriters are not limited to working in-house as long-term employees of companies or agencies. They also work as freelancers or independent contractors, taking on projects and clients as they go. While there is no clear route from an English degree to copywriting, students can intern or develop their portfolio by dabbling in the freelancing world. It’s also advantageous to specialize in specific areas like technology or cars, as agencies and clients prefer copywriters who are well-versed in certain niches. Salaries for copywriters range from $36k-$76k, with a median wage of $52,821.
Working for a Publisher
The world of publishing, whether working for big-name publishers like Penguin Random House or starting an independent publishing company, is a popular field for English degree. A publisher can either be a single individual, company, or organization. Being part of a publishing company comes with a broad range of opportunities, including editing, marketing, contract negotiations, website maintenance, and more. Large companies typically have separate departments handling these responsibilities, while individual publishers typically tackle most or all of them personally.
Publishers supervise the publishing process for both digital and print publications, which includes managing teams of editors, overseeing content production and distribution, determining the target audience, managing contracts, and interfacing with content creators and writers. English majors can fit into any part of the publishing process, including sales, content creation and management, and website maintenance. Glassdoor found that the average salary for someone working in the publishing industry is $67,329.
The role of a copyeditor is crucial in any publishing company, as their primary responsibility is to ensure that written material adheres to the style and formatting standards specified by the company. However, their skills and expertise are also highly sought after across a broad range of industries, including both the public and private sectors. Any company producing print or digital content requires the services of a copyeditor.
Copyeditors are expected to proofread a manuscript for grammatical and stylistic errors, verify the accuracy of information, and revise the content for readability and consistency. In some cases, they may also be involved in designing layouts for articles and advertisements. Comprehensive knowledge of style guides such as Associated Press (AP) is also essential for top-notch copyeditors.
A degree in English is an excellent foundation for a career in copyediting. However, employers may also expect applicants to have prior experience or an extensive portfolio of work. Aspiring copyeditors can begin building a portfolio through freelance work or writing for college newspapers. Various certification programs are also available for those with little to no prior experience in the field.
The median annual salary for copyeditors is $58,870.
In contrast, editorial assistants work with editors in a supportive capacity, helping to identify and correct grammatical errors, factual inconsistencies, and other issues. Additionally, they collaborate with creative, marketing, and production personnel to achieve their publishing objectives. This role is an ideal starting point for individuals who wish to work in publishing and eventually ascend to an editorial position.
The necessary skills for an editorial assistant are typically honed through an English degree, including writing, proofreading, research, and content pitching. Depending on the employer, familiarity with publishing, printing, graphic design software, and advanced word processing skills may also be required.
The average salary for entry-level editorial assistants is $36,620.
Journalists have played a significant role in society since freedom of the press was established as a right. Their core function is to provide the public with accurate and relevant information while pursuing the truth. This dynamic field encompasses a variety of subjects, including politics, entertainment, sports, medicine, and more.
Individuals who possess an insatiable curiosity, a talent for writing, and a knack for asking incisive questions can excel in journalism. English majors are particularly well-suited for this profession, given that they learn to communicate effectively through writing, develop strong critical thinking skills, and synthesize information. Many English departments may offer specializations in journalistic writing, but there are opportunities to work in journalism as a freelancer or intern during or after college, or by pursuing a graduate degree in journalism.
Technical writers are also in high demand, particularly those with degrees in English, communications, or STEM. English majors offer a range of useful skills to this field, such as excellent writing, synthesizing complex information, and effective communication. Due to the rapid evolution of technological and scientific products, technical writers are expected to be in greater demand in the coming years.
In this role, technical writers create instructional materials, manuals, and other documents that communicate technical information in an accessible and user-friendly way. Technical writers typically work in the computer, scientific, and technical industries. It is helpful for job seekers to have specialized knowledge in a particular area, but novice technical writers can build their portfolio through freelance or internship opportunities.
The median salary for a journalist is between $36,000 to $47,000 annually, while technical writers can expect an average annual salary of $74,650.
Effective communication skills are essential for success in any career, and this is especially true for those pursuing a career in law. As English majors are trained to be effective communicators with critical thinking and persuasive skills, it is no surprise that the legal profession is a popular destination among them. According to College Consensus, English is listed among the top 10 degrees for getting into law school.
Lawyers have a multitude of specializations to choose from, including real estate law, public health, environmental law, and child advocacy. Quality law schools across the country offer these specializations and more, providing aspiring lawyers with various career paths and salary expectations. An entry-level lawyer can expect to earn an average of $60,138 annually.
For individuals interested in reading, literacy, and education, a career in K-12 teaching can be a fulfilling option. English teachers are passionate about reading and writing and play a crucial role in developing their students’ communication skills. They also help students improve their reading and comprehension abilities in various educational settings, primarily in public and private schools.
However, unlike most careers on this list, the path to becoming an English teacher often requires additional steps beyond a bachelor’s degree. A state-issued teaching license and relevant certification are usually necessary for public school teaching, requiring prospective teachers to pass a series of tests. Private and charter school requirements vary across states and localities.
The average salary of an English teacher varies according to grade levels and states. High school English teachers, for example, can earn anywhere from $34k to $48K.
Public Relations Specialist
A profession in public relations is an optimal choice for English majors who are interested in exploring communication outside of writing. This field includes a wide variety of organizations including schools, hospitals, companies, and charitable organizations. The role of a public relations specialist is to improve the reputation and marketability of an organization by enhancing its relationship with the public through various forms of communication, both written and oral.
A public relations specialist must develop strategies and plans for a company’s public relations campaigns and generate content for the communications with the media and the general public. They evaluate advertising and promotional campaigns, stay up-to-date with public opinions of their clients or the companies they are representing, and reach out to media outlets and agencies for promotional purposes.
Someone who is an extroverted English major with great public speaking skills would be a perfect fit for this position. With an annual median salary of $61,150, it’s one of the highest-paying career paths for an English degree.
Those who are fascinated by 17th-century English literature can become college professors and teach at higher levels of education. It could be an excellent choice for someone who has a passion for research, reading, and teaching about inspiring topics. A doctoral degree is typically required for college-level teaching, and a master’s degree may be acceptable in some cases. The salary for a full-time, tenured college professor in the humanities can reach up to $100,353 a year.
Colleges and universities hire college professors to work as instructors in introductory and advanced-level courses in their fields while also conducting original research. They might also serve as mentors, undertake administrative duties in their institutions, or work on committees/projects. The amount they get paid varies according to whether they work full-time or part-time and also depends on their rank within the department. Small liberal arts colleges award more teaching responsibilities to their faculty, while large universities prioritize research and publications.
For book lovers pursuing an English degree, a career path as a librarian may fit seamlessly within their interests. This profession cultivates a passion for information access, education, and literacy by collecting, organizing, and issuing print and digital resources. Additionally, librarians assist patrons in locating various materials, such as publications for academic projects or popular magazines.
Aside from basic tasks, librarians find opportunities to develop unique programs geared towards university students or local communities. Examples include teaching senior citizens word processing or instructing job seekers on effective resume writing.
While holding a master’s in library science from an ALA-accredited program qualifies candidates for academic, public, and special library positions, a doctorate is necessary for individuals aspiring to high-level administrative roles in a university setting. Some public library jobs may also require certification from the state.
On average, a librarian can expect a median salary of $59,050.