Biology majors become doctors, while English majors become teachers… not. Wake up. It’s 2017, AKA time to stop being so close-minded. When you search “jobs for English majors,” more options appear out of thin air than the more “practical” majors. Although you’ve probably heard tons of BS and critiques for majoring in English, you’re actually the real winner.
Check out the top 10 jobs for English majors that keep them from declaring bankruptcy.
1. Content Marketing
It’s basically what it sounds like: you’ll market stuff to people in a helpful and relevant way. Despite your assumptions, you don’t need to major in business to pursue this career. “It appeals to me because I get to write stories to help people, not just companies, but the consumers as well,” said University of Florida grad Emily Hollingshead. “My English degree really helps me because it taught me the writing skills and empathy I needed to write for varying audiences.” That’s right—from research papers to random book analyses, all that writing will prepare you for more than writing the next Great American Novel. Unless that’s what you’re into, of course.
2. Public Relations
Wikipedia may call Olivia Pope a fixer, but technically she runs a kickass PR agency that specializes in making D.C.’s (dirtiest) elite look like the angels they aren’t. Someday, you can too. “I think English majors make fantastic analytical thinkers. If we can parse together the meaning of one of the sections in the Canterbury Tales, we can definitely pull something out of a complicated budget document or come up with a PR strategy for something no one wants to buy,” said Boston College grad Rachel Aldrich, who also served as the Editor-in-Chief of College Magazine in 2016.
This one’s pretty self explanatory. You definitely don’t need to major in journalism to edit. Think about how many papers have you peer-edited. Too many to count. “I put my English degree to use every day,” said University of Maryland College Park grad and Assistant Managing Editor at InvestorPlace Media Elyse Gelfand. “As an editor I read, write, edit and research. I also have to think creatively—you need a ‘hook’ to get folks to want to read what you’re writing—meet tight deadlines and think critically. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this (at least not well) without everything I learned as an English major.” Need I say more?
4. Book Marketing
Bet you didn’t think your love for Hemingway could translate into an actual job. “I work in book marketing now at a publishing house, so it’s hard to get more English-y than that. I spend all day working on books around people who love reading,” said Aldrich. Does that sound like paradise or what? “In the day-to-day of the job, I’m doing a lot of work on excel grids and social media analytics, but in the bigger picture I’m basically taking all those critical reading skills I learned in college and putting them to the test: reading between the lines, deciding what bigger themes a book is touching on, and discovering who might be the most affected by those themes.” Sound familiar? You’re practically qualified for this already. “The free books part of the job certainly doesn’t hurt, either,” said Aldrich. Sign me up!
5. Any kind of publication
Besides fast readers, you already know English majors double as the best writers you’ll ever meet. That sounds trivial, but it’s a valuable skill employers can’t wait to get their hands on. “I spent some time writing for a financial news publication right after graduation, and while the finance aspect of the job was new to me, the writing part definitely wasn’t,” said Aldrich. “English majors make some of the best and most talented writers out there, so even though I wasn’t always 100 percent versed in the topics I was writing about, I at least had those writing basics on lock. I know I can write a damn compelling hook, no matter the topic, and it made my transition into the job very smooth.”
6. Corporate Communications
As scary as it feels to voice your opinion in class, that skill will come in super handy post grad. Not everyone feels comfortable to do so, making you valuable AF to future employers. Corporate communications involve dealing with internal affairs in a company, such as dealing with stakeholders. Sounds difficult, but any English major will rock this job. “With their excellent communication skills and their ability to analyze and draw conclusions from written data, English majors can provide a strong, consistent voice for a brand,” said Boston College grad Jennifer Heine. “The analysis and communication skills an English major develops can be applied to almost any sector, including the business world, in jobs such as public relations, corporate communications, marketing, copywriting, etc.”
Incredible writing skills are no joke. Did you know companies actually hire people to write interesting material such as press releases? They’re called copywriters, and with all that writing experience that job description was practically written for you. Besides that, copywriting can also be a freelance job, AKA working in your PJs from the comfort of your couch. Not too different from the time you scrambled to finish that long research paper.
Did you know that digging through a novel to find all those clues that point to a certain theme is very CSI? “Essentially, the skills the English major teaches, such as good communication, analysis and writing are universal and can be applied almost anywhere,” said Heine. That’s right—you don’t necessarily need to do anything “English major-y” after you graduate. An investigator’s job involves hunting for clues, interviewing witnesses and critical thinking. After all you’ll need to analyze everything you find.
9. Casting Director
If you think Ryan Gosling should’ve been cast in Gilmore Girls, consider becoming a casting director. While reading and rereading Romeo and Juliet, you probably came up with your dream cast. You have the basics down cold. You already know how to analyze a text and its characters to figure out the author’s intention. Why not take those skills and help come up with next summer’s biggest hit?
With times like these, if you have a hankering for making a real difference you know all starts with lobbying. With all your experience persuading your professor that your interpretation of Hills Like White Elephants is flawless, you can certainly influence any member of Congress like a pro. “English majors are like spin doctors, so pretty much any role that allows you to use the creativity you’ve honed writing papers on books you mostly skimmed is a role you’ll do well in,” said Aldrich. You’ll definitely need to tap into your creative side in order to make the government do anything. Even cooler? You can find lobbyists who work for a wide variety of groups, such as labor unions, environmental groups or healthcare.
10 more jobs an English degree can help you land
Written by Lillian Friedman
All salary information comes from PayScale.org.
Who said being a lawyer was for nerds? If you’ve ever wanted to be a hip “pink” lawyer like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, the opportunity starts now. This may seem like a surprising career path for an English major, but all lawyers require the critical skill of writing. As a lawyer, one must communicate carefully as well as draw up many legal documents. “Businesses seek out liberal arts majors of all types, including English, because they value the big picture thinking, problem solving and communication skills that make them adaptable in any situation,” said University of Iowa English Senior Academic Advisor, Kate Torno. Tired of all those persuasive papers you wrote as an English major? Well, your tough work has paid off. All those papers have been leading you to the moment when you must craft a winning argument for a case.
Salary: A lawyer’s salary can range from anywhere between $50-$180,000 and average about $80k a year. Wow, talk about the big bucks.
12. Technical Writer
Maybe you never told your mom, “I want to a technical writer when I grow up,” but now you might. Those who enjoy writing and want a solid and steady income should look at becoming a technical writer. As a technical writer you must be concise and simple with your words, since tasks include producing user manuals and other complex documents that translate technical information. Still a little confused on what this job entails? The clip above shares a day in Leticia Vargas’ life as a technical writer for the software company Wizeline.
Salary: The income for a technical writer position averages at $60k a year while the title of a senior technical writer can earn you anywhere between $80-$120,000.
Into the dramatics and writing but can’t act? Although screenwriters might lack a steady paycheck, some English grads push through the challenges and stresses to make this job work. Turning writing into a career involves big-time networking and knowing the ins and outs of the Hollywood business. A script writer’s main responsibilities include producing original and creative scripts for television networks, commercials, movies and possibly even plays for the theatre. While some may freelance their scripts, others may get hired for a job through casting. Though quite difficult to get your feet on the ground for this one, once you open up that door for yourself, endless possibilities can arise from the other side.
Salary: Depending upon success, a screen writer makes between $20–$176,000 a year, while a script writer earns about $24-$126,000.
14. Social Media Manager
If you enjoy staying up into the wee hours of the night checking Facebook and Twitter, then perhaps you should consider becoming a social media manager. English majors possess the perfect amount of creativity in order fill the shoes of a social media manager. This job may entail promoting a business’ brand or product through the use of various social media outlets and lots of networking. “Owning a passion for social media will help those who wish to become a successful social media manager. This industry is constantly shifting, growing and changing. It’s essential to stay on top of the news and trends as much as possible and have a willingness to learn quickly. The ability to write, edit and understand analytics are also key,” said Lundbeck’s social media manager Julie Zare. If that alone doesn’t pique your interest, social media and marketing opportunities are titled promising careers since English majors often excel and feel drawn to these jobs. “The younger generation tends to write and read in small short bursts and businesses and non-profits seek graduates who can read complicated writing and make sense of them and who can articulate ideas in writing creatively and logically. English majors enjoy these jobs because they are using their natural abilities to read, analyze a situation and an audience and craft writing to reach that audience and impact them,” Torno said.
Salary: A social media manager’s income can range anywhere from $27–$73,000 a year with an average earning of $48,000 a year.
15. Corporate Blogger
In this career, you can either act as your own boss and remain self-employed, or you can work for a corporate company for a steadier pay grade. Skepticism comes easy when considering blogging as a career, but keep in mind that bloggers are some of the most influential and inspirational persons. With the explosion of content led by the Internet, companies’ need for writers and creative minds has peaked like never before. From big-name businesses like Dell and Yahoo! to smaller corporations, companies often require corporate bloggers who can run social media platforms, manage website feedback and traffic, plan content schedules and write unique mission-oriented blog posts. “I assess the overarching marketing needs of the client, and where blogging fits in. Ultimately, for my client, I’ll post blogs on a website, first and foremost…and this improves search engine ranking, encourages repeat site visits and builds authority. I make social media posts, generate slide shows and analyze key word performance,” said experienced marketing strategist and corporate blogger Corbyn Hanson Wittig.
If you’re seriously considering corporate blogging as a career, Wittig advises apprenticing or interning with a marketer or agency if possible. “Consider signing up with a freelancer website like Upwork; it’s a great place to get gigs at any stage of your career,” Wittig said.
Salary: An individual blogger averages a salary of $50,000 a year but depending on success, earnings can be as low as $20,000.
Yes, I’m sorry. I just went there. But how can I not when some English graduates truly do want to become teachers? Since most of you probably don’t want to wind up like Cameron Diaz from Bad Teacher, the simplest advice I can give to you is to teach what you are passionate about and be prepared to work hard. “If you are interested in teaching at a university, you should know that is only a fairly small part of the job. Our jobs are typically divided into 40 percent teaching, 40 percent research and 20 percent service. That means you are expected to spend about half your time, in my case, researching and writing books and articles. If you don’t like that sort of thing, but want to teach, you’d be better off considering getting an education degree and teaching high school,” said magazine writer and University of Iowa English professor Blaine Greteman. And if you decide on pursuing a teaching profession, please don’t assign Romeo and Juliet as a required reading. I guarantee your students have read it at least twice already.
Salary: The average high school teacher salary at about $48,000 a year while the standard professor earns approximately $87,000 a year.
Time to tap into your inner book-nerd. Maybe you will be the next infamous librarian character since I can’t think of one to reference for this section. Becoming a librarian calls for one who never shies away from tapping into their inner book nerd and ability to appreciate enjoyable literature. You should definitely bold “organizational skills” on a resume for this job since it will consist of shelving books and following specific systems of cataloging. Beyond analyzing and recommending literature, one must also know how to conduct research and compile information for papers. “An education in English is very important for many jobs and must be applied in the library. My best advice is to emphasize customer service,” said library circulation and research consultant at the University of Iowa library Anna Tonsfeldt.
Salary: A librarian can make anywhere between $28–$70,000 a year but averages about $49,000.
18. Journalist or Reporter
“Are you prepared to work long hours for little money? To do well at [journalism], you need to throw yourself into the job,” said Politico’s Illinois Playbook Reporter Shia Kapos. You may think you need a degree in journalism or communications for one of these jobs, but as long as you know how to research sources thoroughly and write concisely, you should be in good shape here with an English degree and prior experience. “When I first got into the business I worked with people who didn’t have college degrees and went on to earn Pulitzers. However, the only way newsrooms these days can gauge who to hire is based on college experience and college internships, so a degree is necessary to get your foot in the door,” said Kapos. A few misconceptions arise between the jobs of a journalist and reporter. One major difference lies within subjectivity. While a reporter gathers data from numerous sources, pieces them together and then reports what has been observed, a journalist conducts an investigation analysis and may add their own commentary or interject personal opinion. You can decide to write for magazines, newspapers, television, online journals and more.
Salary: The average journalist or reporter makes about $40,000 a year, with a high of approximately $70,000.
Don’t quit your day job just yet folks. But perhaps think about doing so in the future. The flexibility (aside from deadlines) tied to a freelancing career makes it so freaking great. Essentially being a freelance writer means you may work for different companies at different times, or even multiple companies at the same time if you want to make some extra dough. Unfortunately, the cost of freedom equals a lack of permanent employment, which leads to other problems. “Freelancing is by its very nature not stable and often does not offer health insurance and other things that people need to feel secure. Many writers get a foundation of publications under their belt by freelancing and then get a more steady job based off experience. It really depends on the personality of the graduate and whether they can financially and emotionally tolerate the life of a freelancer. Some love it and some would find it too stressful,” Torno said.
20. Surprising Miscellaneous Careers
It’s important to remember that even your first job after receiving your degree may not end up your “forever career.” “We need people to fill all sorts of jobs, like public planning, museum displays, event planning and radio management. They [English graduates] can become video game script writers but they have to work their way up. The major does not determine your career. Your personal passions and your experiences during college usually shape the first job the most. Then your experiences in that first job shape your next job,” Torno said. The fact that employers spend more time looking at what capabilities and experience you have rather than the one line on your resume which lists your degree and where from, makes these jobs attainable for English graduates. “The major is really about the route you want to take to learn general BA/liberal arts skills desired by employers…it isn’t linked directly to your job. It means that studies matter but they have to be very intentional about all the hours outside of school as well,” Torno said.
**Updated on June 26, 2018 by Lillian Friedman to include 10 more jobs