English Major Musings is an evergreen Paperback Paris column curated by Contributing Writer Alicia LeBoeuf.
If you are an English major, or you’re contemplating becoming one, I am sure the fear of not being able to land a decent job with your English degree has run through your mind a few dozen times. Whether that fear was planted into your mind by what your parents or friends have told you, the message society sends to anyone pursuing a degree in the liberal arts, or just your anxiety getting the best of you, I am here to tell you that fear is an irrational one.
Some might think that the jobs available to English majors are limited. On the contrary, however, I believe the career paths for English majors, in particular, are endless.
When most people ask me what I’m majoring in and I respond “English,” this almost always leads to the following question: “Are you planning on being a teacher?” Sigh. While I think being a teacher is an admirable career choice, and it’s definitely a great possibility for English majors, this major is able to lay the foundation for many other careers outside the education sphere. Even though some majors, such as accounting and nursing, to name a few, have a very straight and predictable path leading to their careers, I enjoy the flexibility that comes with pursuing a degree in English. It’s comforting to know that we have options.
A degree in English can lead to many sorts of vocations, such as editorial work, publishing, digital media, marketing, sales, public relations, journalism, the entertainment industry, law, non-profit, and, of course, teaching. Honestly, I’m probably missing a few careers in that listing, but you get the point.
It should be noted that each of those rather general fields that I mentioned contains many of their own prospects.
PR is a huge field, and one could find themselves working in many different variations of public relations depending on who they end up working for, whether it be for a university, a restaurant chain, or a large corporation. Editorial work is relevant in both print and digital capacities. Many businesses are starting to realize how important it is to have a social media presence, which is opening up job positions regarding the creation of social media content. Blogging can be a viable career if executed correctly, whether it’s done in a personal or corporate setting. Even teaching opens its own line of opportunities, from high school English teacher to professor of creative writing or literature at a college level.
Don’t get me wrong – job hunting isn’t easy. Acquiring a job in the field that you are interested in also requires hard work, such as expanding your experience and skill set to build up an impressive résumé. That is why it is important to apply for relevant internships and jobs, take advantage of networking opportunities, conduct all the proper research, and try to learn as much as you can.
Yes, getting a job with an English degree can be difficult and competitive, but let’s be honest – it’s hard to land that dream job straight out of college in general nowadays, no matter what area of study you decide to pursue. We live in a time where even STEM majors with perfect grades are finding it difficult to land a decent job, to put things into perspective. Graduating with an English degree might signify a more challenging career journey for some, but if it means studying and working in an area you’re truly passionate about, then it’s all worth it.
Want to do some more digging of your own? Here are some great places to start: the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine, and Career One Stop are all excellent outlets to scout job prospects.
Also, don’t shy away from those graduate programs. And even if you’re just considering it, it might help to visit GradSchools.com. Finally, if you are a college student, I would strongly suggest taking advantage of whatever career services your school has to offer to better discuss plan out your potential career options.
Stay tuned for the next installment of English Major Musings at Paperback Paris!
What was your experience with finding work with an English degree?
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