What Jobs Can You Get With an English Degree?

No matter where you are in your academic journey, if you’re eyeing a college degree, you’ve likely put some thought into what you’ll major in. For many of you, this may seem to be part and parcel of a larger decision about your career path. But by and large, your college major should be decided not by your career aspirations, but by your academic interests.

 

Of course there are some instances in which it can be helpful to keep your career in mind when planning your course of undergraduate study—like, for example, following an undergraduate pre-med track if you know you want to be a doctor—ultimately, there are few scenarios in which your college major will preclude you from applying for your dream job.

 

In fact, more and more often, we hear from employers who want well-rounded employees with broad experiences and bases of knowledge. This means that even an English major can score that job as an investment banker if you play your cards right.  In this post, we’ll outline why an English major can do anything, and the many different paths to success. Keep reading to find out how your major does and does not impact your chances at scoring your dream job.

 

STEM Fields vs The Humanities: Which Sets the Path to Success?

 

If you go to a liberal arts college, you may think of the various majors not according to their various departments but according to which one of two categories they fall into: STEM fields or the humanities.

 

Though it may seem silly to divide every possible major into only two categories, the STEM vs. humanities debate is an ongoing one of national proportions. Back when Marco Rubio was running for President, he claimed outright that pre-vocational programs gave their students more stable financial futures. Meanwhile, state legislatures have proposed to cut funding to the study of humanities and redirect it towards STEM education, which they believed prepared students better to find a job after college. A contributor to the New York Times even weighed in on the issue in their popular Opinion column.

 

Ultimately, though, it’s important for students to understand that if you’re studying what you love, either decision is a sound one. To think about it another way, consider this: the world needs doctors, physicists, and engineers just as much as it needs painters, writers, and translators. Likewise, we need students majoring in all of these fields. Further, the best doctors—like the best writers—will be the people who truly love what they are doing. Thus, there’s no use forcing yourself to study one thing when you truly love something else. To do so would be an inefficient use of resources, energy, and time.

 

The Job Search

 

All that being said, just because you love one field and devote your studies to it doesn’t mean that those studies are ultimately unimportant to a career in another field. For example, being able to communicate clearly through written words is absolutely imperative for many jobs. Lawyers, scientists, and even mathematicians need to be able to communicate on paper. An english major has this advantage over STEM majors, and it can come in handy in the STEM fields, especially when potential employers search for candidates with different skill sets.

 

Furthermore, the point of a liberal arts education is to ensure that students know a little bit of everything. Employers value this, because they value diverse experiences and broad knowledge. Potential employers will know that your major wasn’t the only thing that you studies in college. Just like when you applied to college, your other classes, extracurriculars, honors, and experiences are also often considered in the job hunt.

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So, What Jobs Can a English Major Score?

 

Still, you might be wondering specifically which jobs you can get with an english degree under your belt. Though the most obvious titles involve writing directly, like copywriters, editorial assistants, and web content managers, many other jobs that are a great fit are less obvious at first.

 

For example, politician Mitt Romney, musician Sting, CEO of NBC Grant Tinker, and director of the National Cancer Institute Harold Varmus were all English majors.

 

Still not convinced? English majors are well-suited for any of these careers and many more:

 

  • Brand Strategist
  • Communications Officer
  • Corporate Communications
  • Corporate Communications Director
  • eCommerce Analyst
  • Editor
  • Event Planning
  • Grant and Proposal Writer
  • Investor Relations
  • Journalism
  • Lobbyists
  • Policy Analysts
  • Public Relations
  • Publisher
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization

 

English Degrees and Postgraduate Education

 

It’s also worth noting that many careers now require a graduate degree or higher. In these cases, it’s not so much your undergraduate degree that will determine your suitability for a certain career as your postgraduate education.

 

For example, if you want to become a doctor, you’ll need to attend medical school. Increasingly, though, med schools are specifically seeking out students who did not graduate as biology or chemistry majors.

 

In fact, in a sea of STEM field undergrads, your English degree can make you stand out for all the right reasons. A 2017 article in Business Insider points to English majors as the highest scorers on the MCAT and the most popular major of med school students outside of the hard science or medical fields. In fact, top med school Mount Sinai even has an innovative program called HuMed, which is geared specifically towards attracting top humanities major.

 

English degrees also prepare students for law school, business school, or graduate degrees in education and social work. Rather than thinking of an English degree as something that may close doors, students would do well to think of them as an opportunity to do anything in the future.

 

Still not sure what you want to major in or how it may impact your career? Consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.

 

For more about majors in the humanities, check out these posts:

 

How to Pick a College as an Undecided Major

Can Applying Under a Certain Major Affect Your Chances of Admission?

6 Things I Hear As a Prospective English Major

15 Surprising Career Opportunities for Potential Humanities Majors

4 Reasons Why Humanities Are Not a Useless Major

Deciding Between a Liberal Arts and Professional Major

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.