Careers for English Majors
What to Do with an English Major
It's inevitable. If you major in English, sooner or later someone will ask, "What can you do with that after you graduate?" If you are considering a major in English, you may have the same question yourself.
The short answer is "Almost anything." English majors can be found working in almost every area within corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
English degrees are also excellent preparation for a variety of graduate and professional programs. Webster English graduates have gone on to programs in fields including creative writing, literature, and law. Visit our "Where Are Our Graduates?" page for examples.
Careers for English Majors
It's true that some majors prepare students for specific professional fields, such as accounting or engineering. However, English, like other liberal arts majors, does not lead to one obvious career path. Instead, English majors have a tremendous degree of freedom to choose among a variety of career opportunities.
While it takes a certain amount of imagination and hard work to unearth and pursue those opportunities, fortunately, a degree in English will provide you with exactly the skills you need to 1) find career opportunities that match your interests and 2) make the case that your background (including not just your coursework but jobs, internships, and/or volunteer experience) fits the job for which you are applying. You will learn how to conduct research, how to communicate effectively in person and in writing, and how to analyze information and solve problems. Even better, your skills will equip you to learn on the job and to adapt to the demands of new career paths, some of which may not even exist today.
With that said, there are a number of jobs which seem to be a natural fit for graduates with English degrees, including teaching, advertising, marketing, and editing.
A few other considerations to keep in mind if you would love to major in English but worry that it isn't "practical":
- If English is where your passion lies, an English major will allow you to do your best work, which will be reflected in your GPA.
- Majoring in something which seems more practical, but which you do not enjoy, will only prepare you for a job which you are unlikely to enjoy.
- Most people find themselves in professions that have little direct relationship to their college majors. Choosing a major that you enjoy and that emphasizes critical thinking and communication skills is, arguably, the best way to prepare for the range of opportunities that most people find facing them after graduation.
- There are a few simple measures you can take, such as performing an internship and/or pursuing a relevant minor or certificate (photography and web page design, for example, are often useful complements to an English degree), which can dramatically improve your chances of finding a job after graduation.
Pursing your Career
- Know your strengths in terms of skills, interests, values, personality, etc.
- Research a career field or graduate schools, gathering as much information as possible.
- Talk to people in your field of interest, network, and conduct informational interviews.
- Obtain an internship or volunteer position.
- Contact the Career Planning and Development Center for assistance with your job search.
- Write a clear and effective resume.
- Practice your interviewing techniques.
- Be persistent!
Don't take our word for it! Click on the following links to find useful information on the value of an English degree in today's job market.
- "Working Your Degree" by Shelly K. Schwartz in CNNMoney, 2000.
- "Employer Advice for Liberal Arts Majors" from the Career Center at the University of California, Berkeley, 2001.
- "Road to Career Success for Liberal Arts Majors" by Robin Ryan on jobweb.com.
- "Making Your Liberal Arts Degree Work for You" (liberal arts jobs in the federal government) by the Partnership for Public Service on Monster.com.
- careerthoughts.com: What can I do with an English major?
- Careers for Writers & Others Who Have a Way with Words, 2nd ed. by Robert W. Bly. McGraw-Hill, 2003.
- Great Jobs for English Majors, 3rd ed. (Great Jobs Series), by Julie DeGalan and Stephen Lambert. McGraw-Hill, 2006.
- Jobs for English Majors and Other Smart People by John L Munschauer. Peterson's Guides, 1986.
- What Can You Do with a Major in English: Real People. Real Jobs. Real Rewards (What
Can You Do with a Major in...) by Shelley O'Hara. Cliffs Notes, 2005.
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