What to do with an English Degree?

To some, English may seem like an impractical art, but its role in businesses and industries is profound. English majors are often teased for having limited job options after college, but writing, communication, and analytical skills are needed in almost every profession. If you are considering majoring in English or starting to look for potential jobs, these six professions may be a good fit.

  1. Publishing—If you like extensive editing, research, and the marketing side of writing, then a job in publishing is perfect for you. It takes a lot of patience to work at a press or publishing house. Every textbook, anthology, trade book (fiction/nonfiction), or journal goes through an extensive process before it hits the shelves. You also have to have knowledge in design programs, such as InDesign or Photoshop, as well as marketing and research skills to promote and sell the publications.
Random House is one of the largest publishing houses in America.
Random House is one of the largest publishing houses in America.
  1. Journalism—Similar to publishing, a job as a news reporter or editor is also labor-intensive. Required essentials are things like intensive research through interviews and on-site reporting. Journalism is a unique writing style following its own writing guidelines called Associated Press (AP) style. Journalism is factual based writing using simple, direct sentences. Additionally, journalists are responsible for reporting on tough and tense issues, so you have to have tenacity and confidence in your craft.
  1. Technical/Medical Writing—If hard news isn’t your style, consider a more straightforward type of writing. Technical writing is more business oriented, and relies heavily on your ability to communicate. Manuals, memos, letters, etc. are all examples of technical writing, and many organizations need workers who know how to write these genres properly. The medical field is especially in need of people to write medical textbooks, product packaging, marketing journals, healthcare websites, and more. Because English majors often believe they aren’t qualified enough for a position in a scientific field, many may never register as these as potential job options or can often overlook the field completely. If you are a detail oriented writer, these jobs could be a great fit.
  1. Grant Writing—Grants are also a form of technical writing, but they involve more creativity and rhetoric than most technical writing. Making people want to give thousands of dollars isn’t an easy task. Non-profits, universities, and businesses constantly apply for grants, meaning there is constantly a need for a grant writer and English majors are a perfect fit for the job.
  1. Public Relations (PR)—As with all writing, PR writing requires effective communication. PR is not just for marketing and business majors; it involves heavy rhetorical skills, as you must convey your product or company in an appealing way. You have to know your brand and market, but you also have to be aware of the writing style and the persuasive language. In some cases, you may need to present a person as appealing to an audience. For these instances, politicians and high status business officials often hire people to write their speeches and letters. This writing can be particularly tricky if you don’t necessarily agree with the views of the person. You have to put your personal opinions aside, because good PR writing means convincing your audience.


  1. Teaching—If you’re more interested the academics of English, you should consider education and teaching students about classical works, and other various genres. Teaching is not limited to just literature, you can also teach topics concerning composition like rhetorical language uses, grammar, publishing, and journalism. You even have the option of teaching English to children in another country. The great thing about the education system is that you can work with any age. Whether you want to teach young children or college students, you have the option to educate beginner’s mind or an advanced mind, which can be a gratifying experience.

As an English major, writing and literature courses will help you develop various skills. Some may be of more interest to you than others, and in that case, see which is most suited for your chosen profession. Let that knowledge grow, and eventually you will become a master at your craft.