When faced with the age-old question “What are you going to do with that degree?” English majors often find themselves wondering how they’ll land a job after graduation. You may think your only options are to become an English teacher, a professional writer, or a lawyer. You might have even heard “jokes” that you’re destined to become a barista.
But actually, if you’re an English major looking to launch your career—either instead of or before pursuing graduate school—you already have many marketable qualities and transferable skills from your education, which has prepared you to succeed across a variety of industries. And there are a number of entry-level positions you can land without an advanced degree or years of work experience already under your belt.
What Can You Do With Your English Degree? | College and Careers | The Princeton Review
The Best Jobs for English Majors
Average salary: $64,638 As one of the highest paying careers for an English major, an advertising manager works in fast-paced environments overseeing employees, researching, planning, and executing projects. Having a degree in English provides applicable skill development from time management to creative and critical thinking. Seeking out a minor in marketing, economics, or graphic design can aid in working towards this career. With over five years in the field, advertising managers may see an average annual salary of over $67,000, and with ten years in the field, almost $80,000.
Average salary: $85,679 Earning a master’s degree in English is an excellent start before law school. Graduate-level education prepares students for the incredible hours of reading, research, and writing accompanying this high paying career for English majors. Lawyers work in fields from corporate law to criminal offense, populating law firms, the U.S. Department of Justice, and their own personal offices. Seeking out certificate programs in contract negotiation and acquisition is an exceptional career booster for aspiring lawyers. Working over five years in this field can result in an average annual salary of over $96,000, according to Payscale.
Average salary: $69,502 Public relations management is one of the best jobs for English majors as it focuses on composing press releases, working for audiences, communicating with and for clients, and developing organizational identity. Maintaining a positive opinion of any company or organization takes rigorous communications, leadership, and vision. Starting with a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in public relations can expand applicable skills in research, time management, creative and critical thinking, and more. It takes several years in the field or of related experience to reach this title, so choosing a college program with internship and practicum experiences is ideal.
Average salary: $60,560 A bachelor’s degree in English is an excellent career starter for the aspiring technical writer. Proficiency in writing and editing software is required, along with the ever-marketable skills of research and communication. Working in this field for a strong number of years could result in titles from senior technical manager to project manager or proposal coordinator. With over five years of experience comes an average salary of over $65,000. Location is an essential factor of the technical writer’s salary. As of 2020 the best place to follow a high paying technical writing career is in Washington state, while Texas hosted a hiring median of 2.8% less than the national average.
Average salary: $51,170 Independence and artistry. Storytelling and communicating. Writers and authors are researchers as well as publishers, with qualities utilized in the fields of science, news media, government organizations, freelance, and more. This is one of the highest-paying jobs for English majors as it is one of the most flexible in the definition. Writers and authors may also be illustrators, editors, and managers. Authors could start their career on a novel, win grants for nonprofits, compose speeches for politicians, the lists go on. The average salary for writers of over ten years can reach over $75,000, making this one of the most lucrative English major careers.
Average salary: $50,221 Few people have English major jobs that are as challenging and rewarding as the high school teacher. Preparing students for life after graduation, teachers build lesson plans, guide students in subject-specific curriculums, help them through college preparation, and more. Careers in education follow strict state guidelines in licensing, certification and graduate studies, so researching this career path and planning out the academic pathway is crucial. Starting with a bachelor’s degree in English is a solid first step to becoming a high school teacher.
Average salary: $49,440 Marketing, advertising, writing articles, managing projects. The public relations specialist can be the one to shape the public of their company. An English degree can boost the entry-level PR specialist with skills applicable to blog and social media writing, distinct knowledge in publicizing, promotion, communications, and more. Pairing a bachelor’s in English with a minor in public relations or communications is a direct route into one of the highest salaried careers for English majors.
Average salary: $50,706 Librarians help patrons with research, teach classes about information technologies, organize library materials, and more. These professionals can be found within and beyond the K-12 school system. Museums, universities, public and private libraries require these literary scientists to keep track of and expand upon immense amounts of information. Earning a M.S. in library science will train aspiring librarians in developing and implementing library databases, digital resource tools, and collection development.
Average salary: $53,115 This job hosts responsibilities beyond simply reviewing copy. An editor works to rewrite text, verify facts, evaluate submissions, and assign articles to writers of all types. In many cases, an editor will act as a manager for a writing team. Editors can be found working in journalism, entertainment, literature, etc. Looking forward, a senior editor’s average salary in the U.S. reaches over $69,600, and a management editing career averages at $63,289. Starting to write and build a professional network in college can make all the difference in editing, one of the highest paying careers for English majors.
Average salary: $48,783 Paralegal work can be summed up by three English major skills: research, writing, expansive vocabulary. These professionals work alongside lawyers in offices, courtrooms, and legal departments performing advanced, life-affecting administrative work. Experienced paralegals currently make an average of over $54,000 a year. This job requires legal knowledge, precision, and organization to file, edit, write and work for a fast-paced law team, making it one of the best jobs for English majors interested in entering a legal profession.
Average salary: $44,267 Developing fluency in another language through an English degree with a foreign language minor leads to a better grasp of language structure and effective communication skills. Interpreters work with spoken language while translators work with written language. The average salary of this career can rise depending on the field. For example, a medical interpreter currently makes almost $4,000 more than the average interpreter. Salary is also dependent upon location. Working in New York, NY pays 37.6% more than the national average, while working in Charlotte, NC pays 15.2% less.
Lucrative Entry-Level Careers
English majors have options that abound throughout and after college. With skills in communications, creative and critical thinking, organization, and more, graduates are prepared for work in almost any field. The following are highly common entry-level jobs for English majors with a bachelor’s degree across the country. The salary of each career is pulled from Payscale.com as of December 2020.
Avg. Salary: $40,268
Writers and authors proctor their skills for a decent annual salary in the U.S. Freelancing is a unique sector of the marketplace, wherein one can contract their services for a price, serving a flexible amount of platforms with their words, ideas, contributions, and organizational skills. Many freelance writers may start their own business, write for magazines, work in the entertainment industry; some conduct their own research, and most of them work more than one job at a time. Freelancing is one of the most common and lucrative careers for English majors.
Avg. Salary: $42,090
The salary benefits of this career for English majors rely heavily on location. News reporters serving the public through television, newspapers, radio, and online resources will find better career trajectories in larger metropolitan areas. A bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in journalism, broadcast communications, or a related field is an entry-level requirement for the budding reporter. News reporters work in a variety of settings, as the fast-paced nature of the industry can require travel, research, investigation, and administrative work. The top ten percent working in this field average an annual salary of around $71,000, according to Payscale.
Avg. Salary: $38,884
This career is a perfect opportunity for English majors just entering the workforce with experience in college radio work, network internships, and courses in journalism and broadcasting. English majors could apply distinct skills in communication and presentation to a position as an announcer or could contribute writing skills to effective scriptwriting in the field. Announcers may also have academic backgrounds in public speaking, media relations, and more. This is a competitive field, with an outlook of 1% through 2029, so earning a degree is a crucial element to success.
The Skills of an English Major
English majors bring more to the United States economy than casually recognized. Famous songwriters, politicians, television producers, film directors, journalists and CEO’s can trace their undergraduate roots to a bachelor’s degree in English from a variety of universities. The choice of the best jobs for English majors relies on where a student decides to utilize their perfectly marketable skills.
Becoming an expert in rhetoric is just as useful in literature as it is in politics or negotiations.
Analyzing novels opens the door to studies in short stories, plays, poetry, screenwriting, and more.
Learning the best strategies for meeting deadlines and producing the highest quality of work can turn technical or freelance writing into a successful profession.
Becoming an adept storyteller coincides with careers in speech writing, publishing, or digital media, among others. Producing, editing, performing, and creating are skills not to be overlooked in industry far and wide. While entry-level positions are never the end-all goal for anyone earning their degree, five to eight years of work experience or graduate-level education can push an English major further in a competitive, innovative, expansive marketplace.
What majors go well with English?
- Journalism. Journalism, of course, is the first minor that comes to people’s minds as a match for an English major. …
- Linguistics. …
- Creative Writing. …
- Psychology. …
- Communications. …
- Theatre Arts. …
What can I double major with English?
- Comparative and world literatures (also a minor)
- Creative writing (also a minor)
- British and American literature (also a minor)
- Film studies (also a minor)
- Science, medicine and literature (also a minor)
- Social justice and literature.
What career should I choose if I’m good at English?
What is the highest paying job in English?
- Journalist. National average salary: $35,427 per year. …
- Grant writer. National average salary: $43,204 per year. …
- Social media manager. National average salary: $44,905 per year. …
- Paralegal. …
- High school teacher. …
- Office manager. …
- Technical writer. …
- Public relations account manager.