Careers for English Majors

Majoring in English Can Open Doors You Might Not Have Thought About

Volunteer teacher leading English class at an initiative that benefits the lives of street children.
Dennis K. Johnson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

English majors are fortunate in that they graduate with degrees in a field that nearly everyone has heard of. The problem they face, however, is turning that English major into an actual job.

Fortunately, many employers are aware that English majors come with a unique set of skills. Consider applying your knowledge in writing, critical thinking, and literature in one of the following careers.

Careers in English

  1. Teach English in the United States. It's the classic choice for many English majors — and for good reason. If you love literature, working with students and writing, teaching in the U.S. through a program like Teach for America can be a great first gig. 
  2. Teach English abroad. Love to travel? Want to live somewhere new? Want to learn a new language? Teaching English abroad can be a great option for blending your personal and professional interests.
  3. Work in marketing for a for-profit company. Writing well may come easily to you, but it doesn't for everyone. Put your skills to work at a big company's marketing department.
  4. Be a freelance editor. Love helping people develop their own work? Consider freelancing as an editor.
  5. Be a freelance proofreader. Are you the person whom everyone comes to on campus to make sure their grammar and punctuation are perfect? Start charging for those services and see if you can make a career for yourself.
  6. Work for a newspaper. Contrary to popular belief, news organizations are on the rise and still hiring. Consider working as a journalist or editor.
  7. Work at a bookstore. Love books? Use your passion for literature to inspire the same passion in others.
  8. Work at a nonprofit that focuses on a love of literature. Consider working for a place like 826, which focuses on bringing reading and books to those most in need.
  9. Do communications work for a large company. Creating copy and communication plans for a large company can be a fantastic challenge. 
  10. Do communications work for a nonprofit. You have awesome writing skills. Nonprofits need awesome folks. Pick an organization you love and you just might have a match made in heaven.
  11. Work as an editor or proofreader for a magazine. See if you can blend another of your passions — like photography, for example — by working as an editor or proofreader for a magazine in the field.
  12. Work as an editor or proofreader for a website. Most websites are designed and written by folks who want to get their information out. Make sure that information is clear and well written.
  13. Pursue life as a freelance writer. Throw your hat in the ring and see if your skills as a freelance writer can pay the bills.
  14. Work at a library. Working at a library can be a great way to interact daily with books and other tomes of information, with the added bonus of working more extensively with the community.
  15. Work at a local theater. Many local theater houses need folks with multiple talents: writing, acting, proofreading, editing. Put your multiple skills to use while having fun, too.
  16. Write promotional materials for a sports team. Love sports? Have a local sports team nearby? See if you can get a gig helping with the team's writing needs.
  17. Work at a TV station. You may think you need a degree in broadcasting to work at a TV station. But all those stories you hear on the news at night need to be written, edited, and proofread by someone who knows what they're doing.
  18. Work at a radio station. Similar to TV, radio stations are in need of English majors. From writing marketing materials to proofreading promos, a radio station can be a fun and exciting place to work.
  19. Work for a technology company. You may picture tons of techs working in cubes when you think of a technology company. But all those instruction manuals, websites, user guides, and even video games need people to translate them from code to "real" English.
  20. Be a grant writer. Grant writing is a unique field that will allow you to help support a cause you believe in, work for an interesting organization, put your writing skills to work, and see the direct results of your efforts. Not too bad for a day's work.