Career Information for a Degree in English

Degree programs in English typically cover written and verbal communications. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for English graduates.

A degree in English can lead to a career as a high school or postsecondary English teacher, a writer, or an editor. High school teachers also need to have a teacher's license, while postsecondary teachers need a graduate degree.

Essential Information

Degree programs in English offer courses in writing and literature. Undergraduate and graduate programs train students in the analytical and communications skills needed in many professions. Graduate students can often specialize in a particular area, such as creative writing or English poetry. A degree in English offers the background needed for many careers, including those covered below.

Career Titles English Teacher Writer/Author Editor
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree for secondary school teachers; doctoral degree for postsecondary instructors Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Licensing License required for public secondary school teachers N/A N/A
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all secondary teachers;
10% for English language and literature postsecondary teachers
2% -5%
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200 for all secondary teachers;
$61,990 for postsecondary English language and literature teachers
$60,250 $56,010

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Options

Degree programs in English provide students with opportunities to learn to research and analyze information, develop razor-sharp communication skills and improve critical-thinking abilities. Since employers in many industries seek these skills, there's a wide range of career opportunities for English-degree holders; however, many pursue careers in English instruction, writing or editing.

English Teacher

English teachers are responsible for planning curricula, administering exams and assignments, leading students in discussions and evaluating student progress. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), secondary school English teachers typically major in English and complete teacher education courses (www.bls.gov). They must also obtain licensure to teach at public schools. According to the BLS, all types of secondary school teachers earned a median salary of $57,200 as of May 2015.

Postsecondary-level English teachers usually possess doctoral degrees, although individuals with master's degrees may also hold these teaching positions. To instruct adult education or English as a second language (ESL) courses, teachers typically must complete at least bachelor's degree programs in English or a related subject and may be required to hold licensure. In May 2015, the median salary for postsecondary English teachers was $61,990, while the median salary for adult education and ESL teachers was $50,280.


Writers generally hold bachelor's degrees and produce content for magazines, journals, books, online publications, television and film. Many writers specialize in specific areas or genres, such as non-fiction articles in a niche subject or science fiction. According to the BLS, most writers work on a freelance basis, and many of the jobs are concentrated in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other large metropolitan markets. The BLS predicted this occupation to grow at a below-average pace of two percent from 2014-2024. In May 2015, writers earned a median salary of $60,250.


Editors typically begin their careers as writers. They often work long hours under tight deadlines to prepare written material for publication. Book publishers, newspapers and magazines employ editorial personnel to solicit and review submissions as well as proofread work to be published. Other editorial duties might include choosing titles for books and articles, writing new material and determining the editorial tone of a publication. Editor employment was anticipated to see a 5% decline from 2014-2024, according to the BLS, and the median salary of editors was $56,010 in May 2015.

Teachers instruct students in their subject area. High school and postsecondary English teachers may lead classes on themes in selected works of literature, while adult education and ESL teachers may instruct adult students about the parts of speech in the English language, proper grammar and the correct use of punctuation. Writers may write technical manuals, non-fiction articles, or works of fiction. Editors review works submitted for publication to ensure they are accurate and error-free when published.

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