The University Network

12 Jobs For English Majors

English majors often have a deep passion for learning. Because they typically enjoy reading, writing, discussing and explaining, many English majors go on to take teaching jobs. But that doesn’t mean they are limited to a life in education. English majors also go on to become lawyers, editors, reporters and more. A bachelor’s degree in English can serve as the foundation for nearly any career in the humanities.  

Here is a list of 12 possible jobs for English majors:

Most Common Jobs for English Majors

1. Elementary/Middle School Teacher

After earning a bachelor’s degree, those who aspire to teach in elementary or middle schools have to complete an internship in a school classroom, pass the state-required test for teachers and receive a teaching certificate/license.  

If you are dead set on being a teacher, the best advice would be to major in education. But if you’re still uncertain about what you want to do, a degree in English could ultimately help you land a teaching job. As long as your degree is in a related field to the classes you aspire to teach, you will be okay.

Median annual wage: $57,350

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree & teaching certificate

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0%

2. College Professor

Patience, communication, organization and enthusiasm are some of the most important characteristics of a good college professor. To earn a job teaching at the post-secondary level, a master’s degree (and sometimes a doctorate degree), is required. In addition to teaching, some college professors also conduct research and write scholarly articles.

Median annual wage: $64,480

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 3%

3. Lawyer

Some people who study English go on to be lawyers, but, to do so, completing a bachelor’s degree program is just the first step. If you want to become a lawyer, you will also have to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), apply to law school, earn a Juris Doctor degree and pass the Bar examination — all before you can begin to practice law. Generally, it takes 3 years to graduate from law school, so the entire process takes 7-8 years. If you’re interested in earning your master’s in English while working towards your Juris Doctor degree, some universities, including Boston University, offer joint programs.

Median annual wage: $119,250

Common entry-level degree: Juris Doctor degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 4%

Specialized, Unique Jobs for English Majors

4. Author

Like any art form, writing takes time, commitment and resilience. There is no golden guide to writing a best-selling book, but that shouldn’t discourage you. If you have the passion and skillset to write, you absolutely should. For those just starting their writing careers, remember that part-time jobs can help you pay the bills while you’re working on your novel.

Self-publishing has grown increasingly common in the internet age. But traditionally, to have a book published, authors seek out an agent who can connect them with publishing companies that can choose to print, publish and sell a book. Typically, the publishing company will work out some contractual agreement with the author to buy the rights to a book.

Median annual wage: Varies

Common entry-level degree: Varies

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 4%

5. Editor

Nearly every magazine, newspaper, publishing house and content-producing website needs editors, so they are typically in high demand. And because there is public interest in various types of information, editors can work in all types of industries, including fashion, sports, politics, art, food and many more. Because editors are often have the last look before writing is publicized, it is often a senior position. Companies like to hire editors who have prior experience either writing or editing.

Median annual wage: $58,770

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 6%

6. Librarian

Librarians may be responsible for curating the books, online databases and additional educational materials that make up a library. Librarians can work at various institutions, including schools, public libraries, museums, law firms, non-profit organizations and others. While it generally doesn’t matter what your undergraduate degree is in, many places won’t hire you as a librarian unless you have a master’s degree in library science.

Median annual wage: $58,520

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 65%

Non-traditional Jobs for English Majors

7. Reporter

Technically, there is no required degree to become a reporter, but you will have a hard time finding a job without one. Skilled reporters are master storytellers with strong writing and grammar skills. To learn the essential skills, most aspiring reporters study journalism in college. However, the researching and writing skills taught through studying English easily translate to journalism and reporting.

Median annual wage: $40,910

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 11%

8. Paralegal

While most people don’t major in English to become a paralegal, the research skills taught through studying English translate well to paralegal positions. Typically, paralegals help lawyers by researching, drafting and organizing legal documents. They are also sometimes referred to as legal assistants. Aspiring paralegals need to have at least an associate’s degree and, in some cases, a paralegal certificate to earn a job.

Median annual wage: $50,410

Common entry-level degree: Associate’s degree & paralegal certificate

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 94%

9. Education Administrator

Education administrators generally work in educational environments, but not as teachers. Broadly, they are the people in charge of overseeing administrative tasks within a school. They could be principals, but job titles may vary. You don’t need a specific bachelor’s degree to become an education administrator, but those who study English develop critical thinking skills that translate well to the job.

Aspiring education administrators must go on to earn their teaching license, work for a few years as a teacher, complete a master’s degree in education administration and, typically, pass a state test to receive an administrator’s license.

Median annual wage: $88,890

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree & administrator’s license

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0%

Other Potential Jobs for English Majors

10. Secretary/Administrative Assistant

As they are often overloaded with tasks and information, secretaries must have the patience and organizational skills to juggle many assignments at once. Assignments vary, depending on the employer, but typically, secretaries must also be able to write well and have a broad knowledge of computer programs. Although people don’t generally study English to become a secretary, the writing skills translate well. And sometimes, secretary jobs are part-time positions that allow for extra time to write, read and pursue other interests.

Median annual wage: $37,870

Common entry-level degree: Associate’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 96%

11. Substitute Teacher

To be a substitute teacher, you must first apply for a substitute teaching license, which vary by state. Once you’ve passed all of the mandatory tests for your licensure, you can begin to apply to schools and/or school districts to be called in for substitute teaching jobs. Working part-time as a substitute teacher would be a good gig for aspiring authors who want to spend most of their time writing, but also need money to pay the bills.

Median annual wage: $28,270

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree & substitute teaching license

Likelihood that robots will take your job: N/A

12. Freelance Writer

Freelance writing can be very rewarding, but it isn’t for the faint-hearted. It can be a great way to boost a resume and expand your personal brand, but it is lacking in job security. At one point in the year you could be very busy with assignments, and at other times, you could be struggling to find any work at all. Typically, freelance writers have to pitch their ideas and provide previous writing samples, essentially applying for a new job every time they want to write a story. But occasionally, lasting freelance relationships can evolve into full-time jobs. While, technically, there is no degree required to write freelance, you may have a hard time finding work without at least a bachelor’s degree.

Median annual wage: N/A

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 4%

10 Famous People Who Studied English

  1. Jodie Foster
  2. James Franco
  3. Tommy Lee Jones
  4. Stephen King
  5. Conan O’Brien
  6. Joan Rivers
  7. Mitt Romney
  8. Paul Simon
  9. Steven Spielberg
  10. Sting