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Q&A - English Jobs & Careers

Where will I work in my English career?

The potential careers for English majors are incredibly broad. The writing and analytical skills you honed during your studies will serve you well in the job market, whether you decide to become an educator, writer, editor or other communication professional.

English majors frequently find work as technical writers, reporters, grant writers and copywriters or in the communications departments of private companies. Additional jobs for English majors can be found in any number of marketing, publishing or sales companies, as well as in government agencies and nonprofits, all of which need to broadcast their products, services and policy positions with the aid of people who use words well. Payscale.com provides a good overview of the types of jobs that people with a degree in English can get.

As an English educator, you would teach English literature, spelling, grammar and writing to young people, either in a K-12 setting or to college students in public or private universities. However, you will need advanced education for either of these options.

Although there are many flexible careers in English, writers in particular are often able to telecommute.

How long does it take to find a job in English?

The availability of jobs for English graduates can vary based on your local job market, your level of education and experience and the type of job you are seeking. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides general job growth projections for a number of English degree careers.

A K-12 English teacher needs additional certification to teach in a public school, but the need for teachers is expected to grow by 17% in the next 10 years, so it could be worth it to get that degree. A university professor teaching English generally needs a doctorate. However, with future job growth projected at just 1.3% over the next 10 years, it could take a while to find a position. Writers and editors could also find jobs hard to come by. Writers can expect job growth of just 6% in the next 10 years while editors can expect job growth of just 1%.

If you are among those who hold degrees from English programs online, you will have an easier time finding work as a writer, editor or K-12 teacher than as an academic. Advanced online degrees in English are not common and are viewed skeptically by universities.

How have English careers changed over the years?

As with many fields, technology has made a major impact on English careers. K-12 English teachers use computer systems like Blackboard to track grades and post student assignments, and many use Smartboards rather than old-fashioned chalkboards while teaching in the classroom.

University English professors may similarly give lectures developed with PowerPoint, reading and commenting on student papers through e-mail, posting grades electronically and assigning students to write blogs. Writers and editors are expected to be proficient in word processing, desktop publishing and presentation software and may also need to learn HTML or other conventions of writing for the Internet.

These same innovations have unfortunately also eliminated some English degree jobs, as many people who are not English majors now develop publications once assigned to professional writers and designers. However, with the growth of the web and online opportunities, English teachers, web content writers and other jobs with an English degree may increase over time.

What are the top employers for English jobs?

The employers for English jobs are broad and varied, and there is really no top employer. Employers include magazines, newspapers, book publishers, websites, colleges and universities, K-12 school systems, public relations firms, telecommunications firms, consulting firms, instructional design firms, advertising agencies, radio stations, software companies and other private companies and government agencies. Some English majors also find work in administration, marketing, sales and other pursuits less directly related to English studies.

If you have an online degree, your ability to find jobs in English will depend on many factors. As noted above, universities are currently reluctant to hire English professors with anything but a traditional doctorate unless you have earned a low-residency MFA as a creative writer. However, most English jobs are awarded on your ability to write and think, which can be easily demonstrated with some good samples, regardless of where or how you got your degree.