If you have an enduring love of language, you might consider becoming an English major in college. However, you may be wondering, What can I do with an English degree besides teach? There is a diverse range of potential careers with an English degree, including but not limited to teaching.
In fact, there are even remote jobs for English majors that don’t involve teaching at all. If you do wish to become a teacher, however, then an English degree may be a great choice. Let’s take a closer look at the many answers to the question, What can you do with an English degree?
In This Article:
- 10 Careers for English Majors
- Remote Jobs for English Majors
- Types of Industries That Offer Careers With an English Degree
- Making the Most of Your English Degree
10 Careers for English Majors
Here are ten potential career opportunities if you have or are looking to earn a degree in English:
1. English Teacher
One common career choice for English majors is teaching. If you already know that you want to go into teaching, it’s helpful to choose an English degree program that leads to initial teacher licensure.
Within this profession, there are specialization opportunities. For instance, you could opt to teach elementary, secondary or postsecondary English classes. Alternatively, you may decide to focus your career on teaching students with special needs.
2. ESL Teacher
ESL refers to English as a Second Language. Sometimes, it’s referred to as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). ESL teachers specialize in teaching English to non-native speakers, focusing on reading, writing and conversational skills.
ESL teachers often work with immigrants, as well as students living in the U.S. on student visas. There is also opportunity for travel in this profession. ESL teachers may decide to work abroad, introducing students to English.
ESL teachers may conduct group classes and one-on-one tutoring sessions. Note that the requirements to become an ESL teacher can vary from one state and organization to the next.
3. Magazine Writer
For those wondering What can I do with an English degree besides teach?, magazine writing may be a field you find enriching if you have an English degree. It can offer writers an opportunity to delve deeply into one narrow subject, interviewing experts and doing research. Then, these professionals can use their research to write a compelling story that keeps readers engaged.
There are magazines and journals for every possible interest — from crocheting and fishing to history and psychology. This allows you to choose a niche that best fits your passions.
Magazine writers may be freelancers who work for multiple local, regional or national publications. Typically, they will submit a pitch (also called a query) to a magazine editor that explains their story idea. If approved, the freelancer and editor will agree on the payment for the piece before the writer gets to work.
4. Grant Writer
A job as a grant writer might be a good fit for you if you are passionate about pursuing work in the nonprofit sector and prefer a job that requires a great deal of writing. These professionals are responsible for researching databases to identify grant opportunities that fit the organization. Then, they write a grant proposal that:
- Describes the nonprofit
- Explains the program that requires funding
- Identifies positive and measurable impacts on the community if the program is funded
Grant writers must convince grant makers to provide funding for needed programs. Grant writers may secure funding for clean water initiatives, education, healthcare and many other worthy causes. Many grant writers are freelance contractors. However, large charities or nonprofits often employ their own full-time grant writers.
5. Developmental Editor
There are multiple types of editing positions; one of which is developmental editing. Developmental editors are “big picture” editors. They examine the entirety of a manuscript. Instead of proofreading line by line, developmental editors identify structural and organizational issues.
Their ultimate goal is to enhance a potential reader’s experience and enjoyment of the book. Working closely with the author, the developmental editor can shape the direction of the manuscript and prevent plot holes and inconsistencies.
Most developmental editors work directly for publishing houses.1 These are sought-after positions, and it is typical to have to work one’s way up to them. Expect to start as an editorial assistant at a publishing house before you have the experience necessary to pursue a higher-level editing position.
A copywriter is a professional writer who specializes in marketing and advertising copy. They may create copy intended to be printed and/or create digital copy to be published on platforms such as company websites, blogs, social media and more. The goal of a copywriter is generally to encourage consumers to purchase products or services from the company, and this may be accomplished with any sort of voice and tone — from straightforward and informational to humorous and irreverent.
A copywriter may work for a marketing agency, in which case they will generally create copy for a range of different organizations. Or, they may work for the in-house marketing department of a large organization, creating copy only for their employer. Some copywriters are freelancers with their own businesses.
7. User Experience Writer
A user experience (UX) writer is a professional writer who specializes in creating microcopy intended to support a consumer’s experience with a digital product, such as an app, website or software program. For example, the UX writer creates the microcopy on website menus, labels, buttons, error messages and chatbots. UX writers may also be responsible for creating company guidelines that shape the voice and style of all writing for that company or for a particular brand.
The end goal of a UX writer is to ensure that the user is able to navigate the digital product with ease. If a web designer or other team member proposes a design that wouldn’t be intuitive for the end user, it’s the UX writer’s responsibility to explain why that particular design might not contribute to a good user experience.
8. Technical Writer
Technical writers work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, information technology (IT) and publishing. They produce documentation, such as instruction manuals and how-to guides, with the goal of providing technical information in straightforward language. If you have ever used the instruction manual of a software program or referred to directions in order to assemble a product, you’ve made use of the work of technical writers.
9. Public Relations Specialist
A public relations (PR) specialist is responsible for curating the public image of a person or organization. They may work for a PR agency or for an in-house PR department at an organization. PR specialists may handle a number of responsibilities, including:
- Tracking and evaluating the public image of clients, such as through social media
- Writing speeches for clients and coaching them on how to handle press conferences and interviews
- Writing press releases and liaising with journalists
- Developing a swift response plan when a client or the company is affected by a controversy
Screenwriters work in the entertainment industry. They write the screenplays for movies, TV shows, commercials and even videogames. Screenwriters may start out as freelancers, submitting their work to entertainment companies on “spec” (speculation).
It can take a lot of hard work and writing practice to become a screenwriter, not to mention persistence. Screenwriters aren’t only responsible for developing strong dialogue; they must also create a compelling story and interesting characters who evolve over the course of the movie or show.
Remote Jobs for English Majors
In addition to traditional office settings, there are also remote jobs for English majors. Every organization has its own hiring policies; however it’s possible to find remote work opportunities across a range of industries and sectors. Many of the jobs listed above, including copywriting and technical writing, may be completed remotely or on a hybrid work schedule, depending on the company.
Other jobs that may be available through remote work arrangements can include:
- Freelance blogger
- Test scorer
- Curriculum developer
Additionally, teaching doesn’t always take place in a classroom. Another remote career option is virtual teaching. There are K-12 and postsecondary education institutions that teach remote students entirely online.
Types of Industries That Offer Careers With an English Degree
As an English major, you will be taught skills in developing a considerable vocabulary, understanding writing styles, enhancing your critical thinking abilities, and writing complex, original work. These qualities, coupled with the skills to communicate clearly and effectively, may serve you well in a wide range of fields, including:2
- News and journalism
- Education and training
- Advertising and PR
- Nonprofit and philanthropy
Making the Most of Your English Degree
If you’ve decided that one or more of these careers with an English major look like a good fit for you, there are a few steps you can take to make the most of your academic career. Try the following tips:
Write, Write and Write Some More
One of the most important things an aspiring writer or writing-related professional can do is to write often. Practice your writing skills every day, both on class assignments and for your own personal projects outside of class. For example, you might want to start a blog, write a novel or write a nonfiction book.
Read Every Day
Arguably, it’s as important to read every day as it is to write every day. Reading frequently will introduce you to a range of different styles, tones and sentence constructions. You’ll have opportunities to absorb the nuances of language, which you may then apply to your own writing.
Create a Portfolio of Your Work
As an English major, you’ll be asked to complete writing assignments that could be added to your professional portfolio. You might also add to your portfolio by working on your own personal projects outside of school. Depending on the position you’re applying to, some hiring managers may ask to see your writing portfolio. Throughout your career, you should continue to update your portfolio so that it reflects your best work.
Pursue an Internship
An internship can be helpful for students of any major, including English students. Look for an internship in your area of interest, such as publishing, marketing or entertainment. You’ll have opportunities to learn more about your intended career path and build professional connections.
Regardless of how you plan to use your English degree, you can get started at Grand Canyon University. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing for New Media and a Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Education degree, which leads to initial teacher licensure. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you can further enhance your career and grow your skill set by earning a Master of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Education degree available online. To learn more, complete the form on this page.
If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.
1 Williams, E. (n.d.). Description of Developmental Editors. Chron. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2023.
2Lowe-MacAuley, K. (n.d.). Great Jobs and Career Fields for English Majors. Job Hunt. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2023.
Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Dec. 6, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.