What can you do with an English major?

An English major offers a diverse and enriching educational experience that goes beyond the study of literature. If you’re wondering what you can do with an English major, the possibilities are vast and exciting. Here, we will explore different career paths, transferable skills, and further education opportunities available to English majors.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education found that English majors possess skills highly valued by employers, such as critical thinking, communication, and research skills. Some career paths commonly pursued by English majors include writing and editing, teaching, publishing, journalism, public relations, advertising, law, business, and library science.

In addition to specific career paths, an English major equips individuals with transferable skills that can be applied to various fields. These include effective communication, critical thinking, research and analytical skills, and writing proficiency. English majors also have opportunities for further education, such as pursuing graduate school in English or literature or professional programs in law, business, or communications.

Career Paths with an English Major

Considering the possibilities of a career with an English major, let’s explore the various paths one can take. From honing writing and editing skills to teaching and education, venturing into publishing, journalism, or pursuing opportunities in public relations and advertising. There’s also the option of law and legal professions, or utilizing strong communication skills in business. For those with a passion for knowledge and information, a career in library and information science is another avenue worth considering. Come along as we dive into the diverse world of career options for English majors.

Writing and Editing

Writing and editing are essential career paths for individuals with an English major.

  1. Writing: With an English major, you can pursue a career in professional writing. This could involve creating content for websites, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. You may also have the opportunity to write fiction or non-fiction books. Strong writing skills are crucial for effectively conveying ideas and engaging readers.
  2. Editing: Another option is pursuing a career in editing. As an editor, you would be responsible for reviewing and refining written content. This includes checking for grammar and spelling errors, ensuring clarity and coherence, and improving overall quality. Attention to detail and a strong command of language are key skills in this field.

Both writing and editing roles can be found in various industries, including publishing houses, media organizations, advertising agencies, and content agencies. Freelance opportunities are also prevalent in the digital age, allowing writers and editors to work on a project basis for different clients. Strong communication skills are vital in collaborating with authors and clients, as well as meeting deadlines and adhering to style guidelines. Additionally, writers and editors need to continuously stay updated on industry trends and develop a broad knowledge base to produce high-quality work.

Teaching and Education

Teaching and education is a popular and rewarding career path for those with an English major. With strong communication and critical thinking skills, English majors are well-equipped to inspire and educate students. Here are some opportunities in teaching and education:

  • K-12 Teaching: English majors can pursue a career in K-12 education, teaching English language arts or literature. They can work in public or private schools, helping students develop strong reading, writing, and analytical skills.
  • ESL/EFL Teaching: English majors can teach English as a second language (ESL) or English as a foreign language (EFL) to non-native speakers. This can be done in language institutions, international schools, or through online platforms.
  • Adult Education: English majors can teach adult learners in community colleges, vocational schools, or adult education programs. They can offer courses on writing, reading, or English language skills.
  • Curriculum Development: English majors can contribute to educational institutions by developing curriculum and instructional materials. They can create engaging lesson plans and assessments that align with the educational standards.
  • Tutoring and Test Preparation: English majors can offer one-on-one or group tutoring sessions for students needing extra assistance with reading, writing, or test preparation for exams like the SAT or ACT.

English majors in teaching and education have the opportunity to shape young minds, foster a love for literature and language, and make a positive impact on their students’ lives.


Publishing is a dynamic and diverse field that offers numerous opportunities for English majors. In the realm of publishing, active engagement with written material is crucial. By utilizing strong communication skills, professionals in this industry play a vital role in bringing books, magazines, and other written works to the public.

English majors looking to pursue a career in publishing can explore various avenues. Here are some possibilities to consider:

1. Editing and Proofreading: English majors can employ their keen eye for detail and language proficiency to edit and proofread manuscripts, ensuring grammatical accuracy and stylistic consistency.

2. Acquisitions: Publishing houses require professionals to assess and acquire manuscripts from authors and agents. English majors can contribute their expertise in evaluating the quality and marketability of potential works.

3. Literary Agent: As a literary agent, an English major can represent authors and negotiate publishing contracts on their behalf. Building relationships with authors, editors, and publishers is essential in this role.

4. Digital With the rise of digital platforms, English majors can explore opportunities in e-book and online publishing, creating and distributing content in various digital formats.

5. Marketing and Publicity: English majors with strong writing and communication skills can excel in marketing and publicity roles, where they will promote books and authors through various channels.

6. Rights Management: Proficiency in reading and analyzing written contracts can be advantageous in rights management positions, where individuals negotiate and manage the licensing and distribution of intellectual property.

Remember, the publishing industry is dynamic, and it’s important to stay updated with emerging trends, technology, and evolving reader preferences. Pursuing internships and networking within the industry can provide valuable hands-on experience and connections. With determination and a passion for literature, English majors can find fulfilling careers in the world of publishing.


Journalism is a versatile and dynamic field for English majors. It offers countless opportunities to engage with current events, write impactful stories, and communicate important information to the public.

In journalism, journalists actively seek out news stories, conduct thorough research, and interview sources to gather information. They then write articles that present the facts in an engaging and informative manner. Journalists play a vital role in keeping the public informed and holding those in power accountable.

Journalism also requires critical thinking skills. Journalists must analyze complex issues, evaluate multiple perspectives, and present unbiased information to ensure the public can make informed decisions.

Furthermore, journalistic writing should be clear, concise, and compelling. Journalists use their writing skills to create engaging headlines, capture readers’ attention, and effectively convey information to diverse audiences.

Alongside writing, journalists must cultivate adaptability and flexibility. They often work under tight deadlines, adapt to changing circumstances, and cover a wide range of topics. They may specialize in areas such as politics, sports, entertainment, or investigative journalism.

Public Relations and Advertising

For individuals with an English major, there are several career paths to explore in the field of public relations and advertising:

  • Public Relations: English majors can excel in the field of public relations due to their strong communication and writing skills. They can create compelling press releases, develop media campaigns, and manage relationships with clients and the media.
  • Advertising: English majors can also find success in advertising. They can use their writing skills to craft persuasive copy for advertisements, develop creative concepts for campaigns, and analyze consumer behavior to create effective marketing strategies.
  • Market Research: Another option within the realm of public relations and advertising is market research. English majors can apply their research and analytical skills to gather and interpret data, identify consumer trends, and make informed recommendations for advertising and PR campaigns.
  • Social Media Management: With the prevalence of social media in today’s advertising landscape, English majors can leverage their writing skills to create engaging content, manage social media accounts, and interact with audiences to build brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Creative Writing: Some English majors may choose to work in the creative side of advertising, specializing in writing scripts for commercials, developing storylines for marketing campaigns, or crafting brand narratives that resonate with consumers.

If you have an English major and are interested in public relations and advertising, consider internships or entry-level positions in these fields to gain practical experience and insights. Networking with professionals already working in the industry can open doors to potential opportunities. Additionally, staying updated on current trends and technologies in advertising and PR will help you stand out as a qualified candidate. Emphasize your strong writing, communication, and research skills in your resume and cover letter.

Law and Legal Professions

Law and legal professions offer exciting career opportunities for individuals with an English major. The skills gained through studying English can be valuable in the field of law.

  1. Legal research and analysis: English majors possess strong research and analytical skills, which are crucial for conducting thorough legal research. They are adept at critically evaluating sources and identifying relevant information.
  2. Written and oral communication: English majors excel in written and verbal communication. They possess the ability to draft persuasive legal documents and effectively articulate arguments in court.
  3. Critical thinking and problem-solving: English majors develop strong critical thinking skills, enabling them to analyze complex legal issues, identify potential solutions, and make sound decisions.
  4. Interpretation and analysis of literature: English majors have experience analyzing and interpreting texts, an essential skill in understanding and applying legal principles.
  5. Adaptability and flexibility: The study of English fosters adaptability and flexibility, valuable traits for working in the dynamic and ever-changing field of law.

English majors can pursue various legal professions, including:

  • Lawyer or attorney
  • Legal researcher
  • Legal analyst
  • Paralegal
  • Legal writer or editor
  • Policy analyst
  • Legal consultant
  • Law librarian

Entering the field of law and legal professions with an English major opens doors to a rewarding career where strong communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills are highly valued.

Business and Communication

When it comes to the field of business and communication, an English major offers valuable skills and expertise that can be applied in various professional settings.

  1. Effective Communication: An English major is equipped with strong verbal and written communication skills in business and communication. They have the ability to convey ideas, negotiate, and collaborate effectively with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders.
  2. Critical Analysis: English majors cultivate critical thinking skills that allow them to analyze complex business problems in the context of communication, evaluate different perspectives, and make informed decisions. Their ability to think critically enhances problem-solving and decision-making processes in business and communication.
  3. Diverse Writing Skills: English majors have a diverse range of writing skills, including persuasive writing, business writing, and content creation, all of which are essential in the field of business and communication. They can produce clear, concise, and compelling written materials that are vital for effective communication in a business and professional setting.
  4. Interpersonal Skills: With their studies in literature and language, English majors develop strong interpersonal skills that are crucial in the realm of business and communication. They can navigate diverse workplace environments, build relationships, and interact effectively with colleagues, clients, and customers.
  5. Adaptability and Flexibility: English majors are skilled at adapting to changing circumstances and unforeseen challenges in the field of business and communication. They possess the ability to embrace new technologies and trends in the business world, ensuring their communication strategies remain relevant.

Library and Information Science

In the field of Library and Information Science, professionals in this domain play a crucial role in efficiently organizing and managing information for easy access and retrieval.

Library and Information Science professionals utilize their expertise and skills in various ways:

  1. They develop and maintain library collections to ensure a wide range of resources is available for users.
  2. They create cataloging systems to organize materials in a logical and easily accessible manner.
  3. They assist users in finding and utilizing information resources, both in physical and digital formats.
  4. They stay updated with emerging technologies and trends in information organization and retrieval.
  5. They collaborate with other professionals to create innovative programs and services that address the needs of library users.
  6. They provide guidance and support to individuals conducting research and searching for relevant resources.
  7. They evaluate the quality and relevance of information resources, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the information provided to users.
  8. They contribute to the preservation and conservation of rare and valuable materials in library collections.

Library and Information Science professionals play a vital role in facilitating access to knowledge and promoting information literacy. They possess excellent communication, analytical, and organizational skills, which enable them to effectively serve the needs of library users and contribute to the success of academic, public, and specialized libraries.

Transferable Skills Gained with an English Major

Discover the power of an English major as we explore the myriad of transferable skills it provides. From honing your communication skills to sharpening your critical thinking abilities, we’ll delve into the valuable attributes an English major equips you with. Get ready to embark on a journey of self-improvement as we uncover the research and analytical skills, writing prowess, and adaptability that come hand in hand with pursuing an English major. Prepare to be amazed by the endless possibilities that await you!

Communication Skills

Communication skills are a crucial aspect of an English major, as they are essential for effective communication in various professional settings. Here are some ways in which an English major cultivates strong communication skills:

  1. Verbal Communication: English majors develop excellent verbal communication skills through class discussions, presentations, and seminars. They learn to express their ideas clearly and persuasively, using language effectively to engage and convince their audience.
  2. Written Communication: Strong writing skills are a hallmark of an English major. They learn to craft well-structured, coherent, and persuasive written pieces. Whether it’s essays, reports, or creative writing, English majors excel in communicating their thoughts and ideas effectively through the written word.
  3. Interpretive and Analytical Skills: English majors develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret various texts. This skill enables them to understand complex information, extract key insights, and communicate their analysis to others in a concise and insightful manner.
  4. Listening Skills: Effective communication involves active listening. English majors learn to listen attentively, interpret messages accurately, and respond appropriately. These skills are essential in collaborative environments and when engaging with diverse perspectives.
  5. Persuasive Communication: English majors gain proficiency in crafting persuasive arguments and engaging in logical reasoning. They can articulate their viewpoints convincingly, making them effective communicators in business, law, and other professions that require persuasion.
  6. Intercultural Communication: English majors explore diverse literature and cultural perspectives, which enhances their intercultural communication skills. They learn to navigate cross-cultural differences, adapt their communication style, and foster understanding and empathy.

Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills are a fundamental aspect of an English major, equipping students with the capability to effectively analyze, evaluate, and interpret information. These skills are not limited to the study of literature and language, but are transferable to diverse fields and situations.

  • Analysis: English majors develop the prowess to analyze texts by identifying themes, examining literary devices, and understanding contextual influences. This analytical thinking extends beyond literature and can be applied to problem-solving in any discipline.
  • Evaluation: Through close reading and critical analysis, English majors acquire the ability to evaluate the validity and reliability of sources, arguments, and information. This skill is invaluable in making informed decisions and forming well-supported opinions.
  • Interpretation: English majors cultivate the capacity to interpret and derive meaning from complex texts, enabling them to comprehend different perspectives and extract insights from diverse sources. This skill fosters empathy, open-mindedness, and the capacity for nuanced thinking.
  • Creative Problem-Solving: Critical thinking skills in English majors empower them to approach problems from multiple angles, think creatively, and generate innovative solutions. The process of close reading and interpreting texts encourages imaginative thinking that can be applied to various real-world scenarios.
  • Effective Communication: English majors develop the aptitude to express their thoughts clearly and convincingly through both written and verbal communication. They acquire the ability to articulate complex ideas, construct persuasive arguments, and effectively communicate with diverse audiences.

Research and Analytical Skills

The research and analytical skills developed through an English major are invaluable in a variety of professional settings.

  • English majors possess excellent research and analytical skills. They are adept at conducting thorough research, gathering relevant information from credible sources, and evaluating the reliability and validity of sources. Furthermore, they can synthesize information to form evidence-based conclusions.
  • English majors demonstrate exceptional analytical skills. They excel in critical analysis by evaluating texts, identifying underlying themes and motifs, analyzing the structure and organization of written works, and drawing insightful conclusions.
  • English majors are known for their problem-solving abilities. They can identify and define problems, develop creative and innovative solutions, and effectively communicate their ideas to others.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential to English majors. They can effectively articulate their thoughts, ideas, and arguments in a clear and concise manner. Furthermore, they are adept at interpreting complex texts and communicating their analysis to others.
  • English majors are skilled critical thinkers. They have the ability to evaluate arguments, identify logical fallacies, and think critically about complex issues. Additionally, they can analyze and interpret information from multiple perspectives.

These research and analytical skills make English majors well-suited for a variety of careers. They can pursue roles in writing and editing, research and analysis, content creation, marketing and communications, consulting, and more. The ability to critically analyze information and effectively communicate ideas is highly valued in today’s professional world.

Writing Skills

  1. Clear and concise expression: English majors develop strong writing skills that help them communicate their ideas effectively. They learn to convey complex thoughts in a straightforward manner.
  2. Grammar and punctuation proficiency: English majors cultivate a deep understanding of grammar rules and punctuation marks, which improves their writing skills. This knowledge enables them to write accurately and convey their message with precision.
  3. Creative storytelling: English majors use their writing skills to develop compelling narratives. They learn how to engage readers through imaginative storytelling techniques, making their writing more captivating and engaging.
  4. Research abilities: English majors are trained to conduct in-depth research for their writing projects. They learn how to find and analyze relevant sources, supporting their arguments with evidence and creating well-researched content.
  5. Critical thinking and analysis: Writing skills nurture critical thinking abilities. English majors learn to analyze complex texts, identify themes, and offer insightful interpretations and evaluations.
  6. Editing and revising: English majors refine their writing skills by gaining expertise in reviewing and improving their own writing. They edit for clarity, coherence, and style.
  7. Adaptability across genres: English majors adapt to various writing styles and genres by utilizing their writing skills attained during their education. Whether it’s academic writing, creative writing, or professional writing, they can adjust their approach accordingly.
  8. Communication proficiency: English majors develop strong written communication skills that enable them to express their ideas clearly to diverse audiences. They learn how to tailor their writing to specific purposes and effectively convey their message.

Writing skills are a foundational component of an English major’s education, preparing them for various careers that require excellent written communication abilities.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial skills for individuals pursuing an English major. These skills allow graduates to excel in various career paths and navigate the ever-changing world of work.

  • Adaptability: Being adaptable means being open to change and able to quickly adjust to new situations. English majors with adaptability are equipped to thrive in dynamic work environments, where they can easily transition between different tasks and responsibilities.
  • Flexibility: Flexibility refers to the ability to think creatively, find alternative solutions, and embrace different perspectives. English majors with flexibility can approach problems from unique angles, adapt their writing style to different audiences, and contribute fresh ideas to any project.
  • Openness to new ideas: English majors should embrace new ideas and perspectives. This quality allows them to connect with diverse audiences, explore different genres and styles of literature, and develop a broader understanding of the world.
  • Critical thinking: The ability to critically analyze and evaluate information is a skill that English majors cultivate. This skill enables them to question assumptions, consider multiple viewpoints, and make informed decisions.
  • Effective communication: English majors develop excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. These skills enable them to clearly articulate their thoughts, collaborate effectively with others, and present ideas persuasively.

Adaptability and flexibility are not only valuable in careers directly related to English but can also be applied across industries. These skills allow English majors to thrive in fields such as marketing, project management, consulting, and entrepreneurship. Employers highly value individuals who can adapt to changing circumstances, think critically, and communicate effectively.

Further Education Opportunities for English Majors

English majors have a world of opportunities ahead when it comes to further education. From pursuing graduate school in English or Literature to exploring various professional programs, there’s no shortage of paths to choose from. Dive into the realm of advanced literary studies or equip yourself with the skills needed for a specialized career. Let’s explore these avenues and discover the endless possibilities that await English majors in their pursuit of knowledge and expertise.

Graduate School in English or Literature

Enrolling in a graduate school program in English or Literature can offer advanced studies and specialized training to students who are passionate about the field and want to enhance their knowledge and expertise.

1. Master’s programs: Pursuing a master’s degree in English or Literature provides an opportunity to delve deeper into specific areas of interest. Students have the option to focus on a particular literary period, genre, or author and develop advanced research and critical analysis skills. Some universities also offer creative writing programs at the master’s level.

2. Doctoral programs: Doctoral programs in English or Literature are perfect for students who aspire to have a career in academia or research. These programs involve thorough study, extensive research, and the completion of a dissertation. Doctoral students often have the chance to teach undergraduate courses and gain valuable teaching experience.

3. Specialized programs: Some graduate schools provide specialized programs within the field of English or Literature. These programs may concentrate on areas such as American literature, British literature, cultural studies, or literary theory. Students can choose a program that aligns with their specific interests and career goals.

4. Research opportunities: Graduate school grants access to libraries, archives, and resources crucial for conducting advanced research in English or Literature. Students can engage in cutting-edge research and contribute to the scholarly discourse in their chosen area of study.

Fact: According to the Council of Graduate Schools, enrollment in graduate programs in English and Literature has steadily increased over the past decade, highlighting the continued relevance and demand for advanced studies in the field.

Professional Programs

There are several professional programs that are well-suited for individuals with an English major. These programs provide opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge gained from studying English in a specific professional context.

Law School English majors often have strong analytical and critical thinking skills, which are valuable in the field of law. Many English majors pursue careers as lawyers or work in related legal professions.
Public Relations Certification English majors are skilled communicators and have a strong grasp of language. Obtaining a certification in public relations can enhance their ability to work in the field of PR and effectively communicate messages.
Technical Writing Certification English majors possess excellent writing skills and attention to detail, making them well-suited for careers in technical writing. Obtaining a certification in technical writing can boost their proficiency in writing for specialized industries.
Digital Marketing Program English majors often have a deep understanding of storytelling and the ability to create compelling content. A program in digital marketing can enhance their skills in creating online content and advertising.
Nonprofit Management Certification English majors are passionate about social issues and often possess strong empathy and communication skills. A certification in nonprofit management can cultivate their proficiency in working for charitable organizations.

One true story of an English major who pursued a professional program is Sarah. After completing her English degree, Sarah decided to pursue a Technical Writing Certification. With her strong writing skills and attention to detail, she excelled in the program and secured a job as a technical writer in a software company. Sarah’s English background allowed her to effectively communicate complex information to a wide range of audiences, making her an invaluable asset to her team.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an English major?

Answer: English majors have a wide range of career opportunities available to them. They can pursue careers in teaching, journalism, law, publishing, medicine, the fine arts, tech companies, and startup ventures.

Are English majors in demand?

Answer: While the number of English majors in the US has seen a decline in recent years, the skills gained from an English degree, such as critical thinking, creativity, and advanced reading and writing, are highly valued by employers. Employers prioritize traits like creativity, critical thinking, and adaptability, which are skills learned in English classes.

What are some entry-level jobs for English majors?

Answer: English majors can find entry-level jobs in various fields such as teaching, private tutoring, communication, social media management, content creation, professional writing, editorial roles, self-publishing, and script writing. They can also pursue careers in education, teaching English abroad, and creative fields like self-publishing, script writing, and media industries.

What graduate degrees can I pursue as an English major?

Answer: Graduate degrees in English include Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs for creative writing and Ph.D. programs for those interested in becoming English or literature professors.

What skills do English majors gain?

Answer: English degrees provide marketable job skills such as effective communication, attention to detail, critical thinking, and analytical abilities. English majors become versatile employees who can apply their communication and critical thinking skills to jobs in any industry.

What are some specific job options for English majors?

Answer: English majors can pursue careers in various fields such as publishing, marketing, education, nonprofits, teaching, law, library science, information services, government, lobbying, journalism, freelance writing, grant and proposal writing, technical writing, script writing, and creative writing.

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