What You Can Do with a Degree in English

Non-Teaching Careers for English Majors

Below is a list of possible positions and fields that you can enter with an English degree.

Sample Positions

Administrative Assistant Fact Checker Nonprofit Administrator
Advertising Account Exec. Fundraiser Personnel Trainee
Campaign Manager Journalist Production Assistant
Communications Specialist Legislative Assistant Public Relations Specialist
Copy Writer Librarian Publicity Assistant
Corporate Trainer Lobbyist Research Assistant
Critic Management Trainee Researcher
Customer Service Rep. Marketing/Sales Sales Representative
Editor/Writer Media Analyst Special Events Coordinator
Editorial Assistant Media Buyer Teacher/Professor
Educational Director Museum Curator Volunteer Coordinator

Sample Fields

Publishing                             Law Advertising                              
Editing Non-Profit Organizations Arts Administration
Cultural Administration Finance Management
Consulting Real Estate Government
Library Science Public Relations Human Resources
Entertainment Media Information Technology
View Source Reference    

Steps to Finding a Fulfilling Career: A Concise Overview

1. Self-Exploration

  • Consider what drew you to pursue a B.A. in English, what skills you have developed and enjoy using, your personality and life goals and your experience.
  • Use exercises such as those found in career guides to develop a clearer picture of who you are and of what you want.
  • Use a personal mission statement to develop a professional “self-portrait.” This personal mission statement can then be adapted as part of letters and résumés.

2. Career Exploration

  • Conduct informational interviews to get more information about fields and positions of interest. Informational interviews can also be an excellent networking tool and might lead to job offers, though you should make the information itself your main goal.
  • Talk to friends, acquaintances, family members and friends of friends about your job search. Ask them about their work; let them know you are searching for a position.
  • Volunteer or otherwise get involved with organizations that interest you. This will give you additional skills and a better understanding of the work. You will also increase your network.
  • Use career guides such as those listed below, but do this only in addition to talking to real people.
  • Continue to network. Keep a file of all the contacts you make and of the organizations or careers that interest you.

3. Applying for Jobs

  • Many available jobs are never advertised. Search for work in classifieds and on career websites, but make sure you do not limit yourself to this. Your time might be better spent appealing to your network and other avenues for openings.
  • Look at websites and publications of specific places where you would like to work and see if they are hiring. Contact their Human Resources department.
  • If you do look at advertisements, make sure to check specialized sites from professional organizations and the like. For example, Idealist.org lists jobs in the non-profit sector.
  • Tailor cover letters and résumés to specific positions. This may take more time but it will improve your chances of finding the right job. Read job ads for the skills and experience sought and highlight your fit for the position.
  • Create skill-based résumés that highlight your motivation and transferable skills.

Additional References

Bly, Robert. Careers for Writers and Others Who Have a Way with Words. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

De Galan, Julie and Stephen Lambert. Grat Jobs for English Majors. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Jansen, Julie. I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work. New York: Penguin, 2003.

Lore, Nicholas. The Pathfinder: How To Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

O’Hara, Shelley. What Can You Do with a Major in English? Hoboken: Wiley, 2005.

Pietrowski, Katy. The Career Coward’s Guide to Changing Careers. Indianapolis, IN: JIST, 2008.

The Job Hunter’s Bible

Transferable Job Skills Sets for Jobseekers