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Jobs for an English Major: Career Info for Recent Graduates

Degrees in English typically require coursework in teaching, writing and editing. Find out about program curricula and learn about career options, job growth and salary information for graduates with a major in English.

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English majors gain skills in writing and editing that are useful for entering a variety of occupations. They can work in careers including teaching, writing and editing, and copyrighting.

Essential Information

Opportunities for English majors are numerous. Many people with English degrees work as teachers, writers, copywriters or editors. A bachelor's degree is needed and, for teaching, certification is needed as well. Writing jobs often require experience gained through working on college newspapers, internships or on-the-job training.

Careers High School Teachers Writers and Authors Editors Copywriters
Required Education Bachelor's degree in English Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications typically expected Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications
Other Requirements Student teaching, certification On-the-job training Internship On-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024) 6%* 2%* -5%* 2%* all writers and authors
Median Annual Salary $57,200 (2015)* $60,250 (2015)* $56,010 (2015)* $45,648 (2016)**

Sources: *Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

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Career Options

English degree graduates are educationally prepared for a variety of careers. With their outstanding writing and editing skills, they can work for publications or become novelists. They're also qualified to teach English or literature classes. Occupations for an English major include teacher, writer and editor.

Teachers

Many graduates of bachelor's degree programs in English choose to become teachers, often at the high school level. English teachers guide students through studies of major works of literature and introduce students to the fundamentals of literary criticism. English teachers work to help students improve their writing skills in preparation for college-level coursework or for their careers. Some states require that students who major in English earn a teaching certificate or other credentials before being allowed to teach.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports high school teachers will see a 6% growth in employment opportunities between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, high school teachers earned a median salary of $57,200 based on data from the BLS.

Writer and Authors

Writers and authors pen original stories for books and other publications, such as magazines, trade journals and newsletters. They also might write plays or screenplays. Their work typically is classified as fiction, such as romance or science fiction novels, or nonfiction, which might include newspaper articles, biographies or history books. Employment for writers and authors varies from full time to part-time, and they often are employed on a freelance or contractual basis.

The BLS predicts demand for writers and authors will increase by 2% from 2014 to 2024. The median salary for writers and authors in the publishing industry was $60,250 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Editors

Editors can work for various employers, including book publishers and numerous periodicals, such as newspapers, journals and magazines. They primarily examine, revise, and improve the work of writers, providing helpful comments and suggestions. Editors also might work with other staff members to plan stories and assign them to writers, assist with the layout and arrangement of a publication, or do original research and writing. Often, different ranks are used to show the diverse job duties or work experience of editors. Sample job titles include assignment editor, assistant editor, managing editor or executive editor.

Opportunities for editors working in print publishing are expected to decline 5% over the 2014-2024 decade, with jobs disappearing in an increasingly digital marketplace, according to the BLS. There may be less need to hire editors in this field. Based on BLS figures, editors earned a median $56,010 per year as of May 2015.

Copywriters

Copywriters help advertise goods and services by creating promotional materials for television and radio broadcasts, publications, and online and mobile platforms. They typically begin an advertising project by researching the product or service that their work will represent, as well as determining that product or service's target audience. Copywriters generally work alongside editors and other writers to present information to consumers in a creative, suggestive and attention-grabbing way. They may be employed full time or on a contractual basis.

Copywriters earned a median annual salary of $45,648 in 2016, according to payscale.com. Job growth for copywriters is expected to increase 2% for the years 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.

English majors graduate with bachelor's degrees in subjects such as English, journalism, or communications. Those seeking a career as a writer may need additional experience available through an internship, on-the-job training, or writing for college publications. Those choosing a career in teaching will also be required to obtain a state teaching license.

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