Discover jobs for English majors

July 21, 2020 · 8 min read · By ASU Online
The workforce offers many possibilities for those seeking a creative occupation with backgrounds like English majors. Most industries rely on skilled professionals who can communicate with diverse audiences.

Career opportunities for English majors

Kelly deVos, author and ASU program alum, says, “We’re living in an era where written communication is incredibly important. Most of what people do, communication wise, is in writing. People are preferring to do business over text message and email rather than telephone or in person the way it was done in other eras.”

English degree have a wide range of job opportunities. These careers include copywriting, public relations, journalism and more technical positions in specialized organizations.

Communication-based professions are among the most competitive employment options. It’s estimated that 1.46 million workers in the U.S. have an English degree, according to Data USA, an information-sharing platform sponsored by Deloitte. This is partly due to the high transferability of the skills this degree confers. English majors can read, write and organize ideas using logical frameworks. This allows them to pursue a variety of professional roles post-graduation.

Career options for English degree holders often require research and analysis experience. Employers also look for the ability to distill complex information for the public. If you're seeking a creative occupation, there are other skills employers seek. You'll want above-average reading and writing abilities and a propensity for problem-solving. Employers also seek candidates who have a desire to work in fast-paced environments. Interpersonal skills are another key attribute. This is because communicators need to collaborate with coworkers, clients and key decision-makers.

An online Bachelor of Arts in English can help you develop necessary competencies. These will expand your job options and help you stay competitive in the market. You'll focus on a core set of courses that cover critical reading and composition, rhetorical studies and literature. A BA in English may allow you to branch out through unique elective tracks that align with your goals. These electives include journalism, creative writing and environmental communications. Specializing in these areas can help you move into the field of your choice. It also supports your personal development through cross-discipline learning opportunities.

Several careers for English majors that combine research, writing and creative production are available in today’s job market. These positions represent some of the most popular professions for english majors:

  • Author
  • Editor
  • Copywriter
  • Journalist
  • Public relations specialist

The potential for growth and the need for individuals with the right combination of education and technical expertise make these roles ideal for candidates who are well-versed in written and oral communications and those seeking BA English career opportunities.

Become an author to build a career in storytelling

Authors use language to convey ideas and emotions to general audiences. They transform everyday concepts into thought-provoking art. Professionals in this field create content in a variety of formats. These include novels, essays, poems and more. Though, many people in the public associate authors with fiction writing. It's true that mass-market writers like Stephen King and Toni Morrison have achieved notable success in the literary world. But the field has plenty of other opportunities outside of traditional storytelling. For example, consider the rising popularity of science-based media and nonfiction prose. It has opened new avenues for aspiring writers with specialized interests.

An author’s work is contract-based. This sets it apart from many other careers that involve writing. Authors often handle many assignments at the same time. Though, more established professionals can focus their efforts on a single project at a self-directed pace. Around 696 million print books were sold in the U.S. during 2018, according to NPD BookScan. This illustrates that there is a wide audience for authors' work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the profession’s job outlook in conjunction with the general writer category. The median salary for this occupation in 2018 was $62,170, according to O*Net OnLine.

Promote brand awareness as a public relations specialist

Public relations specialists are very different from many other BA English career opportunities. This is because public relations specialists develop and maintain an organization's image. They create press releases, social media programs and awareness campaigns. These shape public perception and act as intermediaries between several different audiences. Public relations specialists need creativity and charisma. They communicate their company’s philosophy and long-term goals with diverse audiences. These audiences include consumers, business leaders, investors, journalists and more. Success in this occupation requires both writing and verbal acuity. This role also needs a person who pays attention to detail and can perform under pressure.

Public relations specialists often work in collaborative environments. They tackle challenging projects with sensitive time frames. Organizations in every industry rely on these professionals to coordinate external communications. They also rely on them to cultivate sustainable relationships with media outlets. This field is unique among careers that involve writing. Public relations specialists also need strong interpersonal skills. These help them navigate complex situations that could damage their company’s reputation.

O*Net OnLine projects around 28,200 job openings for this profession between 2016 and 2026. In 2018, the media public relations specialist salary was $60,000. The BLS predicts the growth rate for this occupation to be on par with the national average for all occupations.

Pursue an editor career to prepare content for publication

Editors ensure all written content meets quality benchmarks and editorial standards. They plan, coordinate and revise material before it’s published. They also offer recommendations to enhance ongoing communication projects. This position is detail-oriented. Editors are responsible for typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or brand misalignments. Another key priority in this role is to verify the accuracy of facts and statistics cited in a piece of content. This step can protect an organization from liability issues related to false claims or losing credibility with its readers.

This position requires near-constant collaboration with writers, managers and business leaders. Editors work with creative staff to help develop content ideas and improve writing. They also ensure materials meet style and editorial guidelines before publication.

The job growth for this occupation is similar to other careers for English majors. O*Net OnLine projects 12,000 new openings between 2016 and 2026. According to the BLS, the median salary for editors stands around $59,480.


Cover breaking news stories as a journalist

Keeping pace with the 24-hour news cycle has created a high demand for engaging and relevant content. This is why journalism is such a popular job option for English majors. Journalists research current events to create newsworthy articles. These keep the public informed about topics in government, business, technology, global affairs and more. They collect and analyze facts through interviews, in-depth investigation and observation. They also use their knowledge and experience to capture their audience’s attention. This profession writes for a diverse array of mediums. The mediums may include online news outlets, print publications, radio and television.

Journalists leverage their communication skills to pitch story ideas and assemble sources. It's important for journalists to find sources that are reliable and consistent. They gather leads by speaking with eyewitnesses and subject matter experts. Journalists also work with editorial managers to craft compelling articles on tight deadlines. Established professionals appear on television and radio to promote their work and reach a wider audience.

The median salary for journalists in 2018 was $41,260, according to O*Net OnLine. Journalism has remained a competitive employment space. Many in the field have sought positions outside of print. For instance, the rising popularity of online media has allowed many independent writers to build stable careers.

Leverage creative marketing techniques as a copywriter

Copywriters create marketing resources that companies use to promote their goods and services. These include print ads, brochures, websites, television commercials, blogs and more. They produce focused assets that encourage readers to take a desired action. Desired actions may include purchasing a product or opting into an online newsletter. This copywriter career path requires significant research and planning. Every marketing campaign’s success hinges on the writer’s ability to engage their audience. Professionals in this role use search engine optimization tools to identify which terms and phrases consumers are using when browsing online. Incorporating these “keywords” into digital advertising materials allows companies to rank higher in search results and attract new customers.

Collaboration is essential to this profession. Copywriters must work with clients to ensure messaging is consistent with brand guidelines. They must also tailor their writing style and tone to suit distinct audiences and advertising mediums. Copywriters can pursue employment at companies and marketing agencies or as freelance creators.

The median salary for this occupation was $62,170 in 2018. O*Net OnLine projects more than 12,000 job openings between 2016 and 2026. Growth in this field is on par with the national average. Though, most official estimates do not include freelance copywriters.


Learn more about English degree jobs

Demand for talented communicators of all kinds remains consistent. It will likely continue to provide English majors with dynamic career opportunities. Employers seek people with a balance of education, professional experience and technical aptitude. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in English from ASU Online can help you get these skills. It'll also help you prepare for communication roles and careers that involve writing. The Bachelor of Arts in English offers in-depth instruction on a range of useful subjects. It focuses on preparing students for the competitive workforce. Students take a combination of foundational courses and specialized learning objectives. This helps them develop the critical thinking abilities, writing and reading knowledge and collaborative experience they need to create engaging content that readers will find informative, interesting and inspirational.


ASU Online – Online Bachelor of Arts in English
The Essential Guide to Becoming a Writer by HubSpot
HubSpot's Guide to Becoming a Better Writer by HubSpot
Public Relations Specialist by Truity
Becoming a Journalist by Society of Professional Journalists
Writers and Authors by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Writers and Authors by O*Net OnLine
Public Relations Specialists by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Public Relations Specialists by O*Net OnLine
Editors by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Editors by O*Net OnLine
Editor Salary by Payscale
Copy Writers by O*Net OnLine
Reporters and Correspondents by O*Net OnLine
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What is Copywriting? by American Writers & Artists Inc.
Bestseller Success Led US Print Books Industry Growth in 2018 by NPD Group
English Degrees by Data USA

A group of copywriters brainstorming ideas together at a table
A group of copywriters brainstorming ideas together at a table.
A journalist working on a new publication.
A journalist working on a new publication.


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