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Careers for English Majors: Beyond Teaching + Pouring Coffee

English major careers mean more than teaching!

English majors get a bad rep. I’ve ranted and raved about the plight of English majors since the dawn of time, but I’m going to say it again for the people in the back. As someone who has existed in the “real world” for over a year now, English majors are so so so so prepared to have a “real job.” They might even be more prepared. I’m tired of hearing how there are no “real” careers for English majors, so here’s a list proving just the opposite.

What “real” skills do English majors have?

The most common misconception about English majors is that they learn zero useful skills. I mean, you can only get so far in the real world with your 15-page analysis of John Milton’s use of allegory. Sure, English majors come with 3-4 years of mostly useless facts about Romantic literature and iambic pentameter, but there’s more to it than that.

Anyone who has ever struggled through a Composition class or English 101 knows it’s just about reading books and regurgitating plots. English majors learn communication skills like nobody’s business. We’re also pretty decent writers, as a rule. Our biggest “real world” skill is critical thinking. It turns out you need to be a pretty smart cookie to analyze the historical significance of Modernist literature. Who would have thought?

Not only are English majors great speakers and writers, we’re also kick-butt thinkers. That’s our biggest edge on the competition. We’re real-world problem solvers and big-picture understanders. If you’re an English major and you want to get a job that doesn’t involve pouring coffee at Starbucks, that’s how you have to market yourself.

Now that we’ve nailed down WHY English majors make great employees, let’s talk about the best careers for English majors.

Content Marketing

This is what I do so naturally I’m listing it first. Content marketing is creating digital content that is used in marketing campaigns. This can mean writing marketing copy for sales pages, writing descriptions on social media, or even writing in-depth blog posts. Content marketers usually need some kind of background in marketing, but the biggest skill they need is strong writing abilities.

Content marketing is majorly on the rise. Lots of companies need strong content marketers who understand how to create content that people actually want to read. Content marketers are self-starters, creative, and efficient. I highly, highly, highly recommend content marketing to any English majors who want to write every day and put his or her creative juices to good use.

Average Salary: $40,000
Experience Level:
Entry level+ 

Technical Writer

Technical writers create the technical information in documents like how-to manuals and instructions. This means really understanding how things work. If you’ve ever read the 50-page document that came with your phone, this was written by a technical writer.

Technical writers need to understand a variety of technical language, and they need to know how to write for their audience. This task can be tedious if you’d rather have a more creative role, but it’s very in-demand. Because technical writing requires advanced training, it usually pays more than many other writing positions.

Average Salary: $60,000 – $80,000
Experience Level: Skilled

Freelance Writer

I know, I know. I’ve really hammered this point hard at this point. I’ve found my dream job in freelance writing, and I can’t stop preaching the good word to all the English majors out there who still need to be saved. Freelance writing is when you write content, articles, blog posts, or bigger projects for clients on a contract basis. This means your a remote worker and you get paid per project depending on your clients.

Freelance writing is the wild, wild west right now. Lots of industries are hiring freelancers to fill the gaps in the corporate world, and now is the time to get started writing freelance. As a freelancer, you need to have the motivation to get work done on time. You also need to be good at self-editing and promoting yourself. If you can get through all that, congrats! You get to work in your PJs all day.

Average Salary: $20,00 – $100,000+ (What you earn is dependent on your skill level, hours worked, clients, and industry)
Experience Level: Entry – Skilled

Click here to download the guide to freelance writing!

Public Relations

Public relations specialists are all about storytelling. They tell the story of the company to potential clients and the media in a way that brings positive attention to the business. This involves top-notch communication skills.

Public relations specialists are in charge of managing relations with the media, writing press releases, organizing events, and outreach. The problem-solving skills of English majors mixed with communication abilities make them a natural fit for this position.

Average Salary: $50,000 – $60,000
Experience Level:
Entry/Mid Level

Lawyers

I bet you didn’t expect to see attorney on this list. Once I attended a grad school fair and had several law schools urge me to apply. Turns out they love English majors! A high percentage of law school students chose to study English in undergrad, and these skills served them well.

Being a great attorney means being able to understand complex documents and think critically. If there’s one thing English majors do well, it’s read. Reading comprehension is basically our special talent, and that makes a strong attorney.

Average Salary: $90,000+
Experience Level:
Skilled

Editors

Most English majors dream of working as an editor. There’s a reason English major careers are usually limited to Editing in a big-name publishing house. This dream is accompanied by the New York City skyline and a stylish corner office. While this type of reality certainly exists for some, it’s not a very realistic expectation of Editing. Editing positions are senior level at most publications. That means working your way up that corporate ladder.

Editors can work in a lot of different capacities. They can edit books for traditional publishing, they can help writers at marketing companies, they can work for PR companies, they literally do it all. If you want to become an editor, you first need some experience writing on the ground floor. From there, anything is possible!

Average Salary: $50,000 – $60,000
Experience Level: 
Skilled

Blogging

Blogging and “real job” don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence, I get it. But it’s 2018 and if people can make a full-time income off posting unboxing videos on YouTube, people can make a living blogging. Blogging is big business! With the rise of influencer marketing and social media, anyone can make money blogging! Don’t believe me? Read my income reports!

Want to start your own blog? Learn how to get started for less than a few cups of coffee with my step-by-step guide here!

Average Salary: Unlimited
Experience Level: 
No experience necessary!

There are a lot of careers for English majors!

I’m tempted to make business cards that only have the link to this post so I can hand them out to everyone who asks me if I want to be a teacher. Careers for English majors go way beyond teaching and pouring coffee! We’re the thinkers, the attorneys, and the marketers of tomorrow! If you’re an English major, I hope this list gives you some peace of mind.

Are you studying English? What careers are you looking into? If you’ve already graduated, what did you end up doing? Share your story in the comments!

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