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Beyond Teaching: 10 Exciting Career Paths With an English Degree

Like history majors, people often wonder what English majors might do with a degree in this field other than to teach. But, while you’re waiting for that academic tenure, your classmate might shoot far beyond your financial expectations with a job in the business sector. An exploration into the world of business, including acting or graphic design, might lead you into more exciting careers for English majors. Not only is the power of self-expression in demand in fields such as desktop publishing, politics, the arts, and history, the competition is far less for someone who is articulate on paper and in speech. The only thing holding you back is your own lack of imagination or initiative. Check out the following ten career paths for English majors and begin to dream big.

  1. Independent Film DirectorActors, Producers, and Directors: Do you have a touch of drama in your writing and lifestyle? Would you like to be in front or in back of a camera? The most important qualities employers look for are creative instincts, innate talent, and the intellectual capacity to perform. The best way to prepare for a career as an actor, especially in the theater, is through formal dramatic training, preferably obtained as part of a bachelor’s degree program. Producers and especially directors need experience in the field, either as actors or in other related jobs. If you prefer to remain a hermit, you can try your hand at scriptwriting. This field can prove stressful, but exciting.
  2. Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers: It makes sense to pursue a business role after completing an English degree. This career is all about communications, both written and oral. You may already have computer, research, and critical thinking skills with your English degree, so you can compete with the best. Do brush up on marketing skills, since they’re changing with social media. Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement can be accelerated by participation in management training programs conducted by larger firms.
  3. Demonstrators and Product Promoters: Demonstrators and product promoters encourage people and stores to buy a product by demonstrating it to prospective customers and answering their questions. Although high school is the minimum requirement, this job could lead to promotion into marketing or public relations departments, or other jobs such as acting or sales. This is a great source of part-time income, and growth in this industry is expected to rise over the next few years.
  4. Desktop Publishers: Although There is generally no educational requirement for the job of desktop publisher, your English degree will put you at the top of this field quickly. The ability to communicate succinctly and to design newsletters, blogs, or other forms of print and online publishing (including eBooks or Print-On-Demand books) is a desired initiative in this field. While working for companies and seeking advancement is one way to enter this career, desktop publishers also may start their own companies or work as independent consultants. If you have artistic talent and further education, you may find job opportunities in graphic design or commercial art.
  5. PoliticianGenealogist (Social Historian): This field is growing, thanks to the availability of online research. Your writing, research, and analytical skills as an English major can push you to the top quickly. Many researchers enjoy this work, because it’s similar to piecing together a puzzle. The writing skills come in handy to publish memoirs, biographies, and other works that could alter a local, regional, or national historical perspective. Brush up on historiography if you want to pursue a more scholarly approach to this work.
  6. Market and Survey Researchers: In addition to completing courses in business, marketing, and consumer behavior, prospective market and survey researchers should take social science courses, including economics, psychology, and sociology. Because of the importance of quantitative skills to market and survey researchers, courses in mathematics, statistics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science are extremely helpful. But, your English degree also serves you well in the research and communications side to this career.
  7. Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Most entrants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers train paralegals on the job. This is a great entry into legal practice, if you want to pursue law. Paralegals usually are given more responsibilities and require less supervision as they gain work experience. If you don’t want to pursue a law degree, you may seek promotion to delegate assignments to other paralegals and clerical staff. Advancement opportunities also include promotion to managerial and other law-related positions within the firm or corporate legal department.
  8. Politician: Why settle for a job as a speech writer when you can write your own speeches? Choose between executive careers or legislative careers within this field. You know you’re doing your job well if voters re-elect you, so that is the advancement you might seek. Once you’ve tasted a political career, you might move into other fields and become a corporate executive or a lobbyist.
  9. SalesProject Manager: If you are organized and like to oversee all elements of a project, this field may prove exciting for you. Project managers lead and motivate a team of workers and coordinate their efforts. Project managers also make sure that work flows steadily, despite setbacks and changing circumstances. Beyond the ability to communicate clearly, you might pick up on subjects of study in project management, such as planning, ethics, risk management, and team building. Future project managers also learn mathematics skills, such as statistical analysis, decision science, and cost-benefit analysis.
  10. Public Relations Specialists: Public relations specialists serve as advocates for clients seeking to build and maintain positive relationships with the public. Many entry-level public relations specialists have a college degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, or communications. Some firms seek college graduates who have worked in electronic or print journalism. Although advancement within this career is common for astute professionals, some experienced public relations specialists start their own consulting firms.

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