What Can You Do With An English Degree? | Top Careers

Written by James Mielke
Published on January 29, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

What Can You Do With An English Degree? | Top Careers

Written by James Mielke
Published on January 29, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

What Can You Do With An English Degree? 

Specializations within the English degree track have wide-ranging implications for the professional roles one entertains after graduation. Students who specialize in English literature typically pursue roles at publishing companies like Harper Collins or Random House as editors or reviewers. Those who focus on scientific and professional content can find opportunities to write articles for scientific journals and other technical publications such as Popular Mechanics. When searching for opportunities, graduates with a degree in English can entertain the following roles.

Wondering what can you do with an English degree after college? You’re certainly not alone! While you could go into teaching or tutoring (both are worthy professions), here are eight career paths that you can pursue with an English degree.

Eight Career Paths With An English Degree

Public Relations Specialist
  • Median Salary: $62,800 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Being a public relations specialist can be a pretty eclectic career path and may involve switching between several jobs, including:

  • Managing press contacts
  • Writing press releases, blog posts, and speeches
  • Editing publications
  • Organizing digital files
  • Crafting social media campaigns 

Public relations specialists often work on teams with other communications professionals, including graphic designers, project managers, advertising and marketing specialists, and website and SEO specialists.

Social Media Coordinator
  • Median Salary: $42,915 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Social media coordinators use various social media platforms (Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest) to educate their audience about the company’s services, publicize events, and keep people up-to-date with what’s happening in the organization. Staying on top of trends is important in this role. You’ll use your writing and editing skills while crafting the perfect caption and interviewing customers or co-workers. Having experience with creating branded infographics that are easy to read and interesting is also an important skill to have in this role.

Paralegal or Legal Assistant
  • Median Salary: $56,230 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Paralegals also have many different responsibilities:

  • Conduct research
  • Gather and arrange evidence
  • Call clients, witnesses, and lawyers to schedule appointments and interviews
  • Write reports to help lawyers prepare for upcoming trials
  • Draft correspondence and other legal documents, such as mortgages, wills, and marriage licenses

Experience with editing, writing, and analytical thinking will help English majors excel in a career as a paralegal.

  • Median Salary: $69,510 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

There are many different types of writing, from technical writing and copywriting to grant writing. Writers often conduct research and fact check as they write or as part of their pre-writing. Many writers work alongside graphic designers and social media specialists at universities, advertising firms, financial services industries, magazines, or TV stations. Content articles and copy are needed for many different reasons:

  • Print and radio ads
  • Scripts for speeches or video interviews
  • Manuals for household items or electronic devices
  • Research and write proposals to secure grant funding for non-profits
  • Generating SEO focused articles for websites as a freelancer or full-time writer
Librarian or Library Media Specialist
  • Median Salary: $61,190 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Librarians and library media specialists don’t just work at traditional public libraries. They also work in public and private schools, government agencies, and courthouses. Job duties vary, but typically working in a library setting involves:

  • Retrieving and suggesting materials for the public
  • Managing catalogs of book collections
  • Teaching classes
  • Running public programs

To be considered a librarian, you should attend a Master of Library Science graduate program. If you’d like to work in a school setting, obtain a professional educator license (requirements vary by state) and think about taking a few classes to get a library information specialist endorsement. 

  • Median Salary: $63,350 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Working as an editor involves a lot of reading, proofreading, fact-checking, and rewriting. They help to develop story ideas for digital and print publications and know their company’s brand guidelines and writing style like the back of their hand. You’re the last line of defense on a piece before it goes to print or goes live on a website!

Advertising or Promotions Manager
  • Median Salary: $133,380 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Advertising or promotions managers are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Negotiate advertising contracts with vendors
  • Plan promotional campaigns
  • Conduct market research
  • Place ads in magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, and other media 

Having an eye for design will help English majors succeed in advertising, along with communication skills and knowing the audience you are trying to reach.

Fundraising Manager
  • Median Salary: $119,860 
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Fundraising managers might do one or all of the following:

  • Meet face-to-face or virtually with donors
  • Apply for grants
  • Create fundraising initiatives
  • Plan events
  • Identify and recruit new donors
  • Manage budgets for fundraising events
  • Order décor and thank you gifts
  • Organize catering
  • Manage event volunteers

While this may not seem in line with your degree, the creativity required for coming up with new fundraising campaigns, the ability to write copy to entice community members to volunteer or donate, and working with the rest of the team to publicize events are all in an English major’s skillset!

What Do You Study In An English Degree Program?

It’s not unheard of for prospective students to wonder what they can do with an English degree before enrolling in a program. Before we dive into what you can do professionally, it’s always beneficial to understand what to expect from an English degree program in terms of content. Students should expect to take classes that emphasize reading and writing in various styles. This could include the following:

  • English Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Language Arts and Grammar
  • Worldwide Literature
  • Technical Writing
  • So many more

English degree coursewordl can also include labs that allow them to practice and improve their craft through peer editing. 

Through a combination of technical and creative writing classes, students can expand their vocabulary, improve their written and verbal communication, and hone their editing skills for real-world applications. 

Types of English Degrees 

The amount of time you spend in school has a direct effect on what you can do with an English degree after graduation. 

  • For high school graduates who want to expedite their education, an Associate in English typically takes two years to complete and around 60 semester credits. 

  • Should a student elect to continue their education, these credits can be transferred to a four-year bachelor’s program where graduates often pursue entry-level opportunities that deal in print and digital publication. 

  • Graduate-level coursework at the master’s level is often structured in one-to-two-year tracks and can help students gain the skills they need to pursue more senior roles in the field. 

  • For those interested in working in academia and research, a PhD in English can last anywhere from four to six years and culminates in the completion of a dissertation. 

English Degree Specializations

Given the wide-ranging professional applications for students with a degree in English, it’s no surprise that there are quite a few specializations to consider. 

  • Students who want to pursue writing roles in fiction and non-fiction may benefit from a specialization in English Literature and the classics 

  • English students interested in publishing and editing roles at companies like Randomhouse and Puffin should pursue a specialization in professional writing

  • For those interested in more technical writing styles, there are degree specialization tracks that allow them to practice scientific and professional writing content at a research journal like National Geographic

  • Students who want to work for a newspaper or publication should specialize in creative writing and journalism to familiarize themselves with the storytelling process

  • Students who specialize in rhetoric and composition can explore professional roles in copywriting and editing, as well as professorial roles in academia. 

Writing styles directly influence what you can do with an English degree, and students should be purposeful in their specialization selection so that they can build a strong portfolio of work to reference when they’re applying for jobs after graduation. 

What Skills Do I Need To Get A Job As An English Major?

Confidence is the most important thing you can have when selecting your college major. Rest assured that your English degree makes you versatile and prepares you for work with in-demand skills. 

Market yourself well! This degree has equipped you with writing, editing, and research skills and builds critical thinking skills. Also, your ability to summarize a whole novel in just one or two pages is also a wanted skillset. You’re able to condense topics down and translate them to make issues manageable for readers. Developing skills like these may have a direct impact on what you can do with your English degree and how far you will go in the field. 

Pursuing supplemental certifications in SEO, Google AdWords, graphic design, and web content management systems can only help in your after-college journey. Stand tall in your decision to pursue a degree in English.

How Much Do You Make With An English Degree?

How much will you make pursuing a career in English? Here are a few career examples you can explore.

  • Median Salary: $69,510 
  • Career Outlook: +4% (2020-2030)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Writers and authors are responsible for the content published in different media channels including books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs.

Technical Writer
  • Median Salary: $78,060 
  • Career Outlook: +6% (2020-2030)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Technical writers develop more technical content, such as instructional manuals for vehicles, articles for scientific journals, and how-to guides.

Advertising/Promotions Manager
  • Median Salary: $133,380 
  • Career Outlook: +10% (2020-2030)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

These professionals setup and manage projects in hopes of showcasing their products and services to grow their customer base.

English Degree FAQ

  • What do editors do?
    • Editors work directly with content writers to influence the structure, style, and facts within a given document before it’s published.
  • How do I land a job at a newspaper?
    • Students interested in working at a newspaper or written publication should be sure to gain experience at their high school and collegiate publications, and often need a Bachelor’s in English in order to qualify for entry-level roles in the field.
  • What do you do as a freelance writer?
    • Freelance writers create content for for various publications including newsletters, blogs, and press releases, and are often contracted rather than employed full-time. These jobs offer additional flexibility in terms of scheduling, and allow professionals to work as much or as little as they like.

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