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What Can You Do With an English Major?

Students often think the only thing you can do with an English major is teach. But that's far from true! Here's a look at a few awesome careers you can go into.

These days it seems like every job is looking for someone with a science, math, or technology degree. If you’re like me and greatly prefer writing or reading to using the quadratic formula, you might find yourself wondering, “What can I do with an English major?” If you have ever wondered that, I am pleased to inform you that there is plenty you can do with a degree in English. In an article published by Stanford University, “Careers After an English Major,” it says, “Critical thinking. Creativity. Interpretation. Studying English prepares you for a diverse range of professional fields, including teaching, journalism, law, publishing, medicine, and the fine arts.” You can also get jobs in the entertainment, public relations, nonprofit, and even technology fields. In fact, there is actually a vast number of careers you can get with an English major! Here’s a look at some of the more common career paths for people who major in English in college. 

Writing and publishing

Some of the more obvious career fields for English majors are in publishing as a writer and/or editor. For those of you interested in publishing, you might want to look into working for magazines, newspaper, and/or book publishers, as well as online-only “magazines” and journals. (Plus, most print publications now encompass online publishing duties too!) Of course, you may be wondering where to apply for said careers. If you’re interested in writing and editing, you might get a job at a newspaper or magazine, in the TV and movie industry, or with other publications (trade, professional, or consumer). Or you might work as a freelance writer and/or editor.

Related: So You Want to Be a Writing Major

Education

Who wouldn’t want to use their love for English language and learning to shape young minds and prepare them for the future as a teacher! It's obvious that many English majors go into careers in education. Careers available in the education field include, of course, working at public and private schools, colleges and universities, libraries, and even private learning centers. Just because this is the more common career choice for English majors, doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. The reason it’s a popular choice is because teaching can be a valuable and rewarding career for many people looking to influence and shape young minds. Don’t rule this out unless you’re sure working with students isn’t your thing.

Public relations and advertising

If you’re more interested in public relations or/and advertising, then you just might end up being a part of the large percentage of English majors who choose those career pathways. If you absolutely love both of those things, then you’ll be ecstatic to hear they usually go hand in hand. For both careers, look into advertising agencies or perhaps in-house advertising departments at larger companies. If you’re looking for jobs more on the public relations side of things, don’t worry. Some careers for you include working at public relation firms, trade associations, college and university marketing and PR departments, and public service agencies. You could also apply these same skills to marketing and communications roles, which are often very similar in nature.

Related: Rewarding Career Ideas for 5 Liberal Arts Majors

Law

Law is another field many English majors go into. If you are interested in a career in law, hopefully you know already you will also have to go to law school! After that you can look for jobs at law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, and public service agencies. English pairs well with law because the major teaches you attention to detail and how to read within the context of a document, which is extremely important when developing legal documents and policies. So don’t let your desire to go into law deter you from an undergraduate English major, because it could be just what you need for a leg up on your competition when finding a job. A broad-based English education means you’ll have communication skills and knowledge that other law-only academics don’t.

Business

For all of you English majors with a passion for business, your degree could be a great help at virtually any company, such as banks, real estate agencies, and insurance firms. Again, employers need people who can communicate well, and corporations large and small hire lots of English majors! Also keep in mind that you could potentially get a second major or graduate degree in business as well to help you on your career path. Business also often requires a lot of writing, and there’s a lot of writing and diverse writing when it comes to majoring in English. You’ll have the well-rounded skill set of a successful businessperson with your degree.

Medicine

Think medicine and English don’t work together? Think again! Plenty of English majors go into careers in medicine and technology. In fact, if you’re thinking about becoming a doctor, an undergraduate degree in English might be a surprisingly perfect start. For those of you interested in these careers, you’ll almost certainly need to get a medical or tech degree of some kind as well. But not only will a English undergraduate degree enhance your medical school application, it will teach you skills that come in handy if you choose to be a physician, hospital administrator, or researcher. Being an English major can also help you get jobs in the computer, IT, and even engineering fields. Though you may need to double-major or go to graduate school for these specialized tech careers, you’ll have a great foundation as an English major, learning how to share your ideas, conduct research, ask important questions, and much more. 

Related: 5 Tips for High School Students Considering a Career in Medicine

I hope all you (potential) English majors now know that you can get the degree you want and actually get a job in the real world! Plus, you don't have to give up one degree for another. You can double-major or minor in English and business and benefit from both. You can be a neurosurgeon with a passion for literature. Or you can major in English and go on to teach English or be a writer. There’s no wrong answer! So don't give up on being an English major. This degree will help you with pretty much any job you want. And you can still do what you love.

Are you thinking about majoring in English? Check out this list of Colleges With Great English, Creative Writing, and Literature Programs to start exploring great schools for you!

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