Careers in English

Although career opportunities for English majors are varied and numerous, primarily because majors can think critically, write well and speak clearly, the following brief list describes some of those opportunities. The job descriptions come from the US Department of Labor; for more details, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Keep in mind that some of these positions also require graduate degrees, but your English degree will prepare you well for graduate work.

Writers and Editors

Newspapers, magazines, and book publishers offer salaried positions and consist of nearly one fourth of jobs for writers and editors. Others work in educational facilities, advertising agencies, radio and television broadcasting studios, public relations firms, and religious organizations. Government agencies also employ writers to develop publications and technical materials.

Public Relations Specialist

Many public relations specialists are in salaried positions within services industries that include management and public relations firms, membership organizations, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, social service agencies, and advertising agencies. Other public relations specialists worked for government agencies, communication firms, and financial institutions.

Secondary Education

Secondary school teachers specialized in English help their students dig deep into topics briefly introduced to them in elementary school. English teachers want to expose students to the impact that English has had on the world in the past, the present, and the future.

Technical Writer

Technical writers mostly produce manuals, proposals or product literature while holding positions with scientific or technical organizations. A technical writer may also be in a position where they create letters, agreements, documents, memorandums, writing style manuals, papers, reports, abstracts, advertisements, speeches, press releases, scripts, charts and tables. A substantial amount of technical writers also work for computer software firms.

Court Reporter

Court reporters typically create verbatim transcripts of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, and other events when written accounts of spoken words are necessary for correspondence, records, or legal proof. They are responsible for ensuring a complete, accurate, and secure legal record. Increasingly, court reporters are providing closed-captioning and real-time translating services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Market and Survey Researchers

Market, or marketing, research analysts are concerned with the potential sales of a product or service, gathering statistical data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution. Often, they design telephone, mail, or Internet surveys to assess consumer preferences. They conduct some surveys as personal interviews, going door-to-door, leading focus group discussions, or setting up booths in public places such as shopping malls.

Lawyers (after graduate school)

Trial lawyers, who specialize in trial work, must be able to think quickly and speak with ease and authority. They spend the majority of their time outside the courtroom, conducting research, interviewing clients and witnesses, and handling other details in preparation for a trial.

Librarians (after graduate school)

Librarians assist people in finding information and using it effectively for personal and professional purposes. Librarians must have knowledge of a wide variety of scholarly and public information sources and must follow trends related to publishing, computers, and the media in order to oversee the selection and organization of library materials.

Library Technicians

Library technicians both help librarians acquire, prepare, and organize material and assist users in finding information. As libraries increasingly use new technologies—such as CD-ROM, the Internet, virtual libraries, and automated databases—the duties of library technicians will expand and evolve accordingly.


The publishing industry produces a variety of publications, including magazines, books, newspapers, and directories. It also produces greeting cards, data bases, calendars, and other published material, excluding software. Newspapers and book publishers employ the largest number of workers in the publishing industry.

Electronic Commerce Specialist

Emerging Occupation - Apply knowledge of marketing and advertising to design Internet business webpages. Determine the content, layout the design specifications, and convey this information to webmasters who program the page. Electronic commerce specialists test market the webpage through on-line focus groups and surveys. They also conduct trend analyses of resulting sales and gather statistical data on customer preferences in order to improve service. 2-4 yrs. (C) source: Interlink

News Analysts, Reporters, and Correspondents

News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information, prepare stories, and make broadcasts that inform us about local, State, national, and international events; present points of view on current issues; and report on the actions of public officials, corporate executives, interest groups, and others who exercise power.

Museum Professional

Archivists, curators, and museum technicians acquire and preserve important documents and other valuable items for permanent storage or display. They work for museums, governments, zoos, colleges and universities, corporations, and other institutions that require experts to preserve important records. They also describe, catalogue, analyze, exhibit, and maintain valuable objects and collections for the benefit of researchers and the public. These documents and collections may include works of art, transcripts of meetings, coins and stamps, living and preserved plants and animals, and historic objects, buildings, and sites.

Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers

Advertising managers oversee advertising and promotion staffs; they oversee in-house account, creative, and media services departments. Marketing managers develop the firm's marketing strategy in detail; they estimate the demand for products and services offered by the firm and its competitors. Promotions managers supervise staffs of promotion specialists by direct promotion programs that combine advertising with purchase incentives to increase sales. Public relations managers direct publicity programs to a targeted audience. Sales managers direct the firm's sales program; they assign sales territories, set goals, and establish training programs for the sales representatives.

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