So what can you do with an English major? Because the skills acquired through careful study
of language and literature are so widely applicable, your options are virtually unlimited. A
quick survey of working people you know will undoubtedly reveal that many were English majors
as college students--start asking around! In these increasingly communication-minded days, fluency
with language--including skill in both written and oral communication--is at the top of many
employers' lists. Grace and confidence in communicating are crucial steps toward beginning any
successful career. Following are some categories you might consider.
The first thing that comes to mind, traditionally, in connection with an English major is teaching.
And there's nothing wrong with that! The field of teaching, remember, is vast, ranging from elementary
education to post-graduate instruction, and from private to public institutions of all sizes.
Besides teaching American, English, and/or comparative literature, English majors might go on
to teach writing (including creative writing, business and professional writing, technical writing,
and so on).
Or, English majors might choose a career in writing itself. This could mean journalism--writing
for newspapers or magazines, or perhaps freelance writing of nonfiction, fiction, and/or poetry.
(Some freelance writers do, in fact, manage to make an adequate living from their writing projects;
others combine their freelance work with, perhaps, teaching or a staff writing or editing position.)
But there are unlimited possibilities for writing on the job as well. Writing skills are essential
in the fields of advertising and public relations, for example, and many companies and nonprofit
organizations need strong writers and work on in-house publications, newsletters, grant proposals,
annual reports, technical and administrative documentation, and so on.
Do friends come to you for help in editing their papers? An eye for accuracy and clarity in
writing might mean you are especially well-suited for work as an editor. While we generally associate
editorial jobs with newspapers, magazines, and book publishing companies, more and more positions
are becoming available for technical editors today as well. Written documents need careful editing--but
so do today's all-important Web pages.
The world of publishing is vast, and jobs for English majors range beyond the editorial realm.
Strong communications skills are needed, as well, in the sales and marketing, publicity, and
human relations departments of major publishing operations, to name just a few.
Literature and Research
Further study is a valuable option, and some English majors will be drawn to scholarly research
and writing. In addition, English majors who love the library might consider the field of library
science, as well as related work as general researchers. English majors with added strengths
in foreign languages might also consider work as translators.
With its strong emphasis on language, logic and critical thinking, a background in English studies
is excellent preparation for a career in law. The historical emphasis of many literature courses
often leads English majors to discover a passion for history. And English majors are well-suited
for careers in business as well, where the abilities to solve complex problems and to research
and write effective documents are of utmost importance.
These are just a few of the many possibilities. If you have spent four years working hard to
gain a critical awareness of language and its intricacies, you will be well-suited for whatever
comes next--be it further study or entering the workplace. Clear and careful communication will
never go out of style.