Five Great Jobs for English Majors
In many circles it’s believed that the only options for English majors coming out of college are, a): write the Great American Novel, or b): teach. Not so. When I was an undergrad English majors had the reputation that left handed pitchers enjoy in the Major Leagues – they’re “a little different.” That’s probably not fair either. What was true, however, is that I chose to major in English because I enjoyed writing and really hadn’t thought out career options at all.
There are many career choices open to English majors who choose to seek them out and more importantly, there are many employers who see English graduates as offering good potential for entry level jobs. Every professional position today involves written communication of some sort; HR professionals recognize the value of that credential for positions in marketing, blogging, and an assortment of print-generation professions. But like the rest of the employment universe, technology has changed the career landscape for English majors. Here are some current options.
Online Copywriter: Every website developer or development firm needs someone who can produce tailored content. Some content producers work in house, others freelance. All the successful writers on this career path need to understand search engine optimization (SEO), which entails the strategic use of words. It’s also worthwhile to understand the basics of website assembly and the many roles that written content can play. If nothing else learn the basics of HTML so that you understand the tasks a website developer faces.
Technical Writer: This is a niche that has traditionally fallen to techies who can also write. You have to understand your topic, so if you want to break into technical writing you should bring some degree of digital knowledge and the willingness to learn a lot more. It’s a math and science oriented field, but technical writers who can put electronics, algorithm use and complex software into language accessible to the not-so-technical reader are at a premium.
Journalism: No career path has been redirected more acutely by the digital revolution than journalism. Newspapers and magazines are at best cutting back on employees and all too commonly shutting down altogether. But the ones that survive and hundreds of new ventures are developing online sites that are the journalism outlets for the future; many offer entry level opportunities that with time and effort can be turned into a career. An example: on the date of this writing the Washington Post has no newsroom openings posted but has ten job opportunities at Washington Post Digital, their online business that services their several news outlets.
Trade Press: There are hundreds of trade publications that cater to business and professional niches. These publications are also busy establishing online identity, but they have been less vulnerable to the sea change in the information industry because they are often sole source providers unlike the news media. It’s also important to understand that most trade publications are put out by industry specialists who publish more than one. The editorial and management opportunities with these companies are excellent once you’re in the door.
Advertising: One of the industries where the phrase “content is king” still applies is advertising. Traditional careerists in this field may not be eloquent, but cleverness with words is the hallmark of professional success. Whether advertising copy is spoken in video format, printed online, tweeted or thrown out over an audio feed it’s still copy. That’s why ad firms have entry level positions for writers as well as for multimedia graduates and graphic artists.
Bob Hartzell is a freelance writer for Get Degrees®. Easily find and compare English majors & programs from accredited online colleges and universities.