If you love reading or writing, an English major might be the right choice for you. Many students, however, avoid this type of liberal arts degree due to the difficulty of finding a job in this field – or rather, the perceived difficulty! With an degree in English, you can choose from any number of careers. Let’s take a look at the options open to you:

Becoming a Teacher

One of the most common career paths for English majors is to become a teacher. To become a teacher, you’ll need both a degree and certification. Most colleges allow you to go through the certification process (which includes internship periods called student teaching) with English education programs. You can choose elementary or secondary education, each with a concentration in English. In some states, you’re not required to have a teaching license to work at a private or religious school, but going through certification is the best choice for most students. You can also go on to get a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate to become a professor.

If you decide to pursue a master’s degree, you’ll likely have the option to select an area of concentration, which might help you in your teaching-related endeavors. Some schools look for English educators with expertise on a specific topic such as creative writing, poetry, linguistics, or film study.

Have you considered teaching abroad? Perhaps working as an ESL instructor overseas suits your career goals. Many countries around the world hire English majors to teach English as as second language. These jobs not only afford great travel opportunities, but also create memorable experiences and broadens your career choices.

Becoming a Journalist

English majors can also go on to work in written media jobs. Journalism is an evolving field, with more and more content moving online, but in any case, strong English skills are needed to connect with readers. Journalists can work in reporting and writing roles with newspapers, magazines, blogs, and more.

Typical duties of a journalist or a reporter include:

  • Research topics and stories that an editor or news director has assigned to them
  • Interview people who have information, analysis, or opinions relating to a story or article
  • Write articles for newspapers, blogs, and magazines and write scripts to be read on television or radio
  • Review articles to ensure their accuracy and their use of proper style and grammar
  • Develop relationships with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories
  • Analyze and interpret information to increase their audiences’ understanding of the news
  • Update stories as new information becomes available

Other Writing Jobs

Journalism jobs aren’t your only option if you’re interested in working as a writer. You can also take other writing paths, including serving as a novelist, copy writing for advertising agencies and websites, technical writing, speech writing, television and film script writing, and non-fiction or biographical book writing.

You can also consider ghostwriting, a career where you’ll write for a fee, without credit. This is a great way to build up your portfolio.

Other Potential Career Paths for English Majors

Teaching and writing aren’t your only options with a degree in English. You can also consider:

  • Translating (if you know a second language)
  • Editing
  • Serving as a literary agent
  • Communication-related jobs (marketing, advertising, etc.)
  • Proofreading
  • Data Entry

Other interesting duties of a writer may include:

  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, and biographies
  • Conduct research to get factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for use by newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

In addition, an English major can be a stepping stone for a career in law, either as a lawyer or paralegal, though these careers require more training beyond an English degree.