12 Well-Paying Jobs for English Majors

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What’s Covered:

 

When compared to other majors that impart more tangible skills, an English degree might not seem very marketable. However, English majors graduate college with a host of in-demand skills that commonly lead to financially rewarding careers. Keep reading to learn more about the high-paying jobs available to English majors. 

 

What Skills Do English Majors Learn?

 

The curriculum covered by an English major is broad—it tackles subjects ranging from prose to poetry, works from ancient to contemporary, and ponders perspectives from author to audience. At some colleges, English majors are encouraged to choose a concentration or track and pursue a particular area of interest. Common concentrations are: 

 

  • American Literature
  • Composition and Rhetoric
  • Creative Writing
  • Digital Humanities
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Literary and Critical Theory
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • British Literature
  • Place Studies
  • Women’s and Gender Studies

 

It’s also common for colleges to offer a handful of writing-specific tracks in areas such as literary prose, poetry, and nonfiction writing. Whether working toward a general English degree or a specific concentration, English majors build a variety of valuable skills. Those skills include:

 

  • Analysis 
  • Communication 
  • Creativity 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Editing and proofreading 
  • Empathy 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Reading 
  • Research 
  • Storytelling
  • Writing 

 

Thanks to their diverse skill set, English majors find themselves working in a multitude of fields. Popular career paths for English majors include:

 

  • Copywriting
  • Content creation 
  • Editor 
  • Grant writing 
  • Freelance writing 
  • Fundraising 
  • Journalism 
  • Public relations 
  • Social media management 
  • Teaching 
  • Technical writing 

 

Earning Potential For English Majors 

 

According to Zip Recruiter, the 25th–75th percentile earnings of English majors is $34,500 to $50,000 a year. The average annual salary for English majors is $49,220, with the highest-paying jobs for English majors paying $95,000 to $102,500 a year. For comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810. Unlike other majors, job location has little effect on the earning potential of English majors. 

 

The New York Times detailed the unique career path liberal arts majors face when compared against STEM majors in its article, “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure.” In general, STEM majors get off to fast starts in their careers thanks to the transferable skills they developed in college, while liberal arts majors get off to slow starts, but catch up mid-career due to the abstract and soft skills that are the foundation of a liberal arts education. 

 

Top 3 High-Paying Jobs for English Majors

 

1. Public Relations (PR) Manager

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 9%  

Median Salary: $52,500-$89,000 (ZipRecruiter) 

 

One of the best jobs for English majors, public relations managers serve as the point of contact and communication between organizations and the public. A PR manager’s tasks include fielding media inquiries, serving as a spokesperson, writing press releases, and developing strategies to target audiences and expand outreach. Public relations managers at the top of their field are exceptionally well-compensated—the top 10% earn more than $208,000 annually.

 

2. Technical Writer 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 7%  

Median Salary: $53,000-$82,000 (ZipRecruiter)

 

Technical writers help people understand products and services by creating collateral such as manuals, how-to guides, and FAQ sheets. Technical writers are clear communicators with excellent writing skills and create resources for use both online and in print. English majors can find technical writer positions in a multitude of industries, but the majority are clustered in management, scientific, technical, and manufacturing industries.

 

3. Marketing Manager  

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 6%  

Median Salary: $47,500-$79,500 (ZipRecruiter)

 

A marketing manager is a high-paying job that many English majors are well-suited for. Marketing managers develop strategies for the content a company uses to attract and retain customers. Marketing managers are effective and strategic communicators and work on projects ranging from branding and creating campaigns to analyzing the results of marketing efforts. Those who reach the upper echelon of the profession are well compensated—the top 10% of earners take in more than $208,000 annually.

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Other Jobs for English Majors

 

4. Editor

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -7%

Median Salary: $37,0000-$65,000 (ZipRecruiter) 

 

Editors are detail-oriented, exceptional communicators and excellent organizers. They plan, coordinate, and revise material—ensuring it’s free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, as well making sure it meets the style guidelines of the publisher. Editors work in a variety of media content for publication in books, newspapers, magazines, and online. 

 

5. Freelance Writer

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -2%  

Median Salary: $26,000-$75,000 (ZipRecruiter)

 

Despite the declining job growth, freelance writing is a popular career choice for both young and seasoned writers, and a common landing spot for English degree holders. Freelance writers work for a variety of businesses and publications and create a multitude of different types of documents; consequently, freelance writing is often a stepping stone to higher-level and more permanent positions. 

 

6. Social Media Manager 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 7%  

Median Salary: $35,000-$61,500 (ZipRecruiter)

 

An English major’s grasp of language and media make them ideal candidates for jobs as social media managers. Social media managers are responsible for managing all aspects of a business’ or organization’s social channels—including drafting posts, creating content, connecting with “influencers,” and analyzing results. 

 

7. Copywriter

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -2% 

Median Salary: $41,500-$69,500 (ZipRecruiter)

 

Copywriters produce short-form and long-form copy for advertising and marketing efforts and encompass everything from copy for packaging, product descriptions, emails, flyers, and advertising. It’s common for copywriters to either work for multiple clients—while employed at an advertising agency or freelancing—or focus on one brand or product line in-house at a particular company. 

 

8. High School English Teacher 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 4% 

Median Salary: $38,500-$51,000 (ZipRecruiter)

 

High school English teachers instruct students in grades 9-12 in reading, writing, and grammar. While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum amount of education required to teach high school English, passing a state certification exam is also required to teach at a public school. A master’s degree can increase job opportunities and improve pay—10% of high school teachers earn more than $99,660 a year.  

 

9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 18% 

Median Salary: $41,500-64,500 (ZipRecruiter)

 

An SEO specialist is an interesting job for English majors—it combines the use of copy and content with data and analytics to improve the ease of discovering an organization on the internet. The primary goal of SEO specialists is to improve web traffic, but they also focus on creating content, engaging with customers, and improving conversion. 

 

10. Grant Writer 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -2% 

Median Salary: $40,500-$59,500 (ZipRecruiter)

 

English majors are a natural fit for a career as a grant writer. Grant writers research funding opportunities and submit applications, along with required documentation, to those who support their organization’s objectives. Don’t let the negative growth of grant writing dissuade you from this fascinating position—the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track grant writers specifically; rather, they’re lumped into a general category of “Writers and Authors.”

 

11. Paralegal 

 

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 10% 

Median Salary: $37,000-$52,000 (ZipRecruiter)

 

Paralegals assist lawyers in a variety of ways—helping to draft documents, research cases and laws, organize files, and take notes. Some firms require certification to work as a paralegal, while a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for many. A paralegal position is a common entry point to one of the highest paying jobs for English majors, lawyer, as it provides first-hand legal experience before going to law school.  

 

12. Librarian 

 

Education Required: Master’s degree

Projected Growth: 5% 

Median Salary: $43,500-$68,000 (ZipRecruiter)

 

An English degree is fantastic preparation for the master’s of library science commonly required for this career. Librarians work in a variety of areas—including in public libraries, schools, universities, research institutions, and government agencies—assisting with organizing and finding materials along with a number of other tasks, like hosting community events. 

 

What Colleges Are Best for English Majors?

 

School Name

Location

Acceptance Rate (2019)

Middle 50% SAT Scores

ACT Scores

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

4.5%

1460-1580

33-35

Williams College

Williamstown, MA

12.6%

1420-1540

32-35

Yale University

New Haven, CT

6.1%

1470-1560

33-35

Amherst College

Amherst, MA

11.3%

1420-1530

31-34

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

5.8%

1460-1570

33-35

Brown University

Providence, RI

7.1%

1440-1550

32-35

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

8.9%

1380-1540

31-35

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

6.2%

1500-1560

33-35 

Columbia University

New York, NY

5.3%

1480-1560 

33-35

New York University

New York, NY

15% (2020)

1410-1530

32-35

 

Admission into a top ten school for English is extremely competitive and these colleges are “reaches” for most students. When creating your college list, it’s important to have a balance to maximize your odds of acceptance into a good fit school. CollegeVine recommends applying to eight to 12 schools—25% being safety schools, 40% target schools, and 35% reach schools. 

Our free chancing calculator makes it easy to learn which schools qualify as safety, target, and reach. Not only can our free chancing calculator show you your odds of acceptance at over 600 schools, but it also gives you tips on how to improve your profile—upping your odds of admission at your dream school.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.

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