What Can I Do With an English Degree

Writing/Editing

Areas

  • Creative Writing- Books, Poetry, Plays, Screenplays, Scripts, Greeting Cards, Lyrics/Jingle Writing
  • Journalism- Writing/Reporting, Editing
  • Technical Writing- Science and Medical Writing
  • Freelance Writing

Employers

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Broadcast media companies including television, radio, and the movie industry
  • Trade, professional, or consumer publications
  • Internet sites
  • Large corporations
  • Government agencies including: Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Veterans Affairs, National Archives and Records Admin.
  • Universities and university presses
  • Technical industries
  • Self-employed/Freelance

Strategies

Select elective coursework in a particular area of interest. Write for campus publications such as college newspapers, magazines, or departmental/program newsletters. Volunteer to assist or tutor students in a writing center. For technical writing positions obtain a concentration in technical writing. Take science and/or computer courses to gain knowledge about technical areas and trends. Become familiar with the proposal writing and submission process involved in freelance writing. Gain as much experience as possible through volunteer positions, internships, or part-time jobs. Demonstrate patience and persistence in starting a career in creative writing.

Education

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Administration
  • Student Affairs
  • Academic Advising
  • Information Science
  • Non-classroom Teaching
  • Tutoring

Employers

  • Public schools
  • Private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Language institutes, local and abroad
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Private learning centers
  • Test preparation organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations involved with literacy

Strategies

Obtain appropriate state certification for public school teaching. Earn certification to teach multiple subjects or age groups for increased job opportunities. Earn a master's or doctorate degree for post-secondary teaching. Plan to attend graduate school in college student personnel or information science if those are areas of interest. Gain volunteer experience working with children through Big Brother/Sister programs, tutoring, summer camps, YMCA's, etc. Participate in school activities such as debate or literary clubs, campus publications, or student government. Get involved in roles of leadership such as resident advisor, peer mentor, student advisor, etc. Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations for graduate school applications.

Publishing

Areas

  • Editing
  • Advertising
  • Sales
  • Circulation
  • Production
  • Publicity
  • Marketing
  • Promotion
  • Administration

Employers

  • Trade publishing
  • Special interest magazines
  • Trade magazines
  • Association magazines
  • Sunday newspaper supplements
  • Educational publishing
  • Religious books and magazines
  • Professional and scholarly publishing
  • University presses
  • Independent publishers
  • Alternative media publishers: E-books, Audiobooks

Strategies

Obtain an internship in the publishing industry. Participate in a summer publishing institute. Develop word processing, editing, and desktop publishing skills. Gain additional technical skills if working in an online environment. Gain experience by writing for student publications such as the newspaper, creative writing magazines, the yearbook, etc. Conduct an informational interview with or shadow a professional in the publishing industry. Look for positions with local dailies and alternative weeklies in the community. Volunteer to write or edit publications with local nonprofit organizations to gain experience. Develop extensive grammar and language skills. Be prepared to relocate to cities with a publishing presence. Research the publishing industry to learn more about career ladders.

Advertising

Areas

  • Creative Services- Copy Writing, Art Direction
  • Account Management
  • Media
  • Account Planning
  • Production

Employers

  • Advertising agencies
  • In-house agencies of large companies

Strategies

Demonstrate talent, persistence, assertiveness, and enthusiasm. Be prepared to start in an entry-level position. Obtain strong statistics background for market research positions. Create a portfolio of writing and ideas showing originality and imagination for creative positions. Gain knowledge of various media, contemporary tastes, and trends. Obtain experience with campus newspaper, TV, or radio. Participate in sales and promotions for student organizations or private businesses. Complete an internship in a market research firm or advertising agency. Supplement curriculum with courses in business (marketing, economics, mathematics), art, or graphic design.

Public Relations

Areas

  • Account Coordination
  • Writing/Editing
  • Media Relations
  • Account Management

Employers

  • Public relations firms
  • Advertising agencies
  • In-house public relations departments
  • Trade associations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Government agencies

Strategies

Obtain internship or other relevant work experience to break into this field. Be prepared to start at the bottom and work towards higher levels. Develop strong research skills, public speaking ability, enthusiasm, and interpersonal skills. Supplement curriculum with business courses. Become an effective team member by working on group projects for campus organizations. Volunteer to write publications for nonprofit or student organizations.

Business

Areas

  • Management
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Insurance: Claims, Underwriting

Employers

  • Business organizations including banks, real estate agencies, insurance firms, and large and small corporations
  • Retailers including department, grocery, drug, specialty, variety, and book stores

Strategies

Obtain a business minor. Gain work experience through part-time jobs, internships, or relevant volunteer work. Secure leadership roles in campus organizations. Join student professional associations and seek leadership roles. Develop strong analytical and computer skills. Gain experience as financial officer or treasurer of a campus organization.

Law

Areas

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Corporate legal departments
  • Government agencies
  • Public service agencies

Strategies

Develop strong organizational skills and attention to detail. Become skillful in debate and public speaking. Organize campus events, speakers, or political rallies. Obtain summer or part-time work in a law firm. Plan to shadow an attorney to learn more about the field. Complete special training requirements for paralegal positions. Attend law school and earn a JD to become an attorney. Maintain an excellent grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations to gain law school admittance. Plan to take the LSAT.

General Information

  • A major in English can be good preparation for continued graduate or professional training in areas such as English, law, political science/government, public administration, psychology, counseling, communications, and religious studies (i.e., seminary).
  • Develop a specialty area of interest via additional coursework and/or work experience for greater marketability within that specific career field.
  • Save samples of written work to be used for a portfolio.
  • Be prepared to be proactive, determined, assertive, and confident in order to secure freelance writing opportunities. Writers typically experience many rejections for each piece that is accepted for publication.
  • Cultivate other career opportunities in order to supplement a freelance writing income.
  • Obtain additional areas of expertise such as journalism, broadcasting, technical writing, or politics for specialized positions.
  • For careers in advertising or public relations be prepared to begin in an entry-level position.
  • A bachelor's degree in English is sufficient for many entry level positions in business and industry.
  • Appropriate teacher certification is required for public school teaching.
  • A graduate degree is required for teaching at the college or university level.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow professionals in careers of interest to learn more about their jobs.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (1992, Revised 1999, 2004, 2006) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer