A college degree is a big investment, and you want to be confident that you’re choosing a program that opens doors to a fulfilling career. As an English major, you’ll learn marketable job skills that you’ll bring to your future career.
English degrees train you for jobs that look for effective communication, attention to detail and critical thinking. That's why employers and graduate schools seek out English majors — because you’re well-rounded and versatile.
Especially in entry-level jobs, employers are looking for people who are trainable and can learn on the job. An English degree will give you a flexible skill set to find a career that works for you.
Graduates of Roosevelt's BA program in English have successfully landed jobs in publishing, marketing, education, nonprofits, teaching, law and much more.
Median salaries below come from the 2021 best job rankings in the U.S. News and World Report unless otherwise noted.
You might be exploring an English degree because you had a teacher who encouraged you. English teachers get to share what they love about language and literature with a new generation of students.
From preschool to middle school, educators teach several subjects, while most high school teachers focus on teaching English. If you’re interested in K-12 teaching, you should consider a degree that prepares you for certification or graduate study. Roosevelt University offers an accelerated program where students earn a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years.
Private schools also often don’t require certification, and networks like a href="https://www.educationgroup.com/">The Education Group can help place graduates in teaching jobs..
Teaching English as a second language is an exciting opportunity both in the United States and abroad. Though knowing a second language certainly helps, it’s not a requirement. Organizations like the American TESOL Institute can help you earn certification, job placement and other advantages like room and board.
After graduation, Roosevelt alum Courtney Clark taught English to children in Thailand. “I got to immerse myself in a new culture while teaching English to 33 adorable kindergarteners,” she said. “It was an amazing and rewarding experience.” When she returned to the U.S., she found a full-time gig as a copy editor.
Payscale reports the average base salary for ESL teachers as $46,053.
Some English students begin college thinking that the only career they can get is a teaching position, but there are other options out there.
Successful paralegals and lawyers need to communicate clearly, analyze complex ideas, and translate legalese into a good narrative.
English majors like alum Timothy Stephens have used their degrees to get ahead in legal careers. Today he is a compliance consultant at a private company.
“Both my undergraduate studies and my paralegal studies put a strong emphasis on the art of writing,” he said. “Without those skills, I would not have been successful in my past roles and my current position.”
Working under the supervision of lawyers, paralegals have a meaningful impact on civil litigation cases. Roosevelt University’s paralegal studies certificate prepares students to interview witnesses, analyze records and accompany counsel to trial.
Not all lawyers make their case in the courtroom. Many work for individual clients or businesses as contract lawyers or intellectual property experts. Others specialize in family law or personal injury. Immigration lawyers help clients who are having trouble with their visas or green cards.
Roosevelt graduates have also earned law degrees at UIC John Marshall Law School, UCLA School of Law, Yale Law School and more. Consider adding a pre-law program or legal studies minor as well as courses in communications.
Strong editors know more than when to use an em-dash or an en-dash (although they probably know that, too). Editors and agents work closely with writers to develop their work and find manuscripts for publication.
Though jobs in the industry are competitive, there are a few ways to get your foot in the door.
Freelance positions can help new copyeditors build a strong portfolio. Bookjobs.com can help you find internships in publishing in any of the three major departments. New York University and Columbia University also offer postgrad publishing courses as a foothold in the industry.
The salary estimates below come from Payscale.
The production department prepares and prints books for publication. If you like logistics and organizing projects, production departments could be a good fit for you.
Marketing and publicity departments build awareness for forthcoming books. You’ll write galley letters and press releases to drum up good publicity, reach out to reporters, and help connect readers to books they’ll love.
The acquisition department works with agents to decide which books to buy and publish. As an entry-level editorial assistant, you’d work with senior editors to prep books for publication.
Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations take English graduates as interns or pages. Writing freelance articles can help you build a portfolio and get hired full-time. A master’s degree in journalism will give you a leg-up in the job search, but some employers look for well-rounded writers without advanced degrees.
Reporters share breaking stories with the public. The job is an opportunity to practice your research, writing and editing skills, and also a chance to raise awareness of current issues. English majors also write and produce podcast episodes.
English major Ayumi Davis got her start at Roosevelt’s student newspaper, The Torch. After graduation, she landed a competitive fellowship at Newsweek. Ayumi covers breaking stories from politics to scientific discoveries to awards.
“It’s a lot of fun being able to write for a job,” she said. “I’m learning to write on a deadline and how to write for a variety of topics.”
On average, journalists make $41,160 per year, according to Payscale.
These writers cover scientific discoveries for the general public or for industry audiences. If you’re passionate about science, you could write for news outlets or the science community as a public information officer at universities, research foundations and museums.
Glassdoor estimates that science writers earn $71,307 per year.
With your creative skill set and passion for storytelling, English majors like you have found careers as ghostwriters or writing scripts for video games.
Most creative writers get their start by publishing short stories, essays or poems in literary magazines. By doing so, you can build a reputation and look more marketable to book publishers and agents.
An MFA in creative writing can give you more space to develop your writing after graduation. Roosevelt students run the Oyez literary magazine and earn internships at Featherproof Books, an acclaimed small press in Chicago.
Creative writers and thinkers are suited for careers in marketing and advertising. Marketers and advertisers can work in-house or for agencies that work with a variety of different clients. Pairing an English degree with a marketing program — like Roosevelt’s BA in digital marketing, advertising and public relations — gives you a broader background in all four disciplines.
As a proposal writer at CDW, Roosevelt graduate Demi Utley discovered there were real opportunities to write in a corporate space. In 2020, Demi founded her own company. She uses writing to make a direct impact on the lives and businesses of other entrepreneurs.
“I didn’t believe that I would put my English degree to much use,” she said. “Instead, that’s been the focus of my career.”
Copywriters write headlines, direct mail, taglines, websites and commercial scripts. BuiltIn Chicago estimated that the average copywriter in the city earns $72,047 each year.
Social media strategists also write a lot of advertising copy. Today pretty much every company —museums, theatres, nonprofits, small businesses — have social media accounts and needs sharp, thoughtful creators to run them.
Search engine optimization (SEO) writers use keywords to help companies get discovered on Google. Many writers work as freelancers, but companies also hire writers for full-time positions.
PR professionals look for angles and newsworthy stories to help companies communicate with their target audiences. The job also requires strong, clear writing in press releases and media pitches. Public relations specialists can work directly for companies or for larger firms that take on many clients looking to improve their image.
PR roles sometimes involve public speaking, but not always.
Website development covers a broad range of activities such as user experience (UX) writing and design, as other fields such as information architecture and database administration. This field requires knowledge of computer software, programming language and design.
U.S. News and World Report called it one of the Top 100 Best Jobs in America in 2021.
Grant writers use storytelling to explain why their projects or organizations are worth funding. Grant applications often come with strict formatting content requirements, so English majors’ attention to detail is crucial.
As a grant writer, you can also apply your research skills to finding funding opportunities for a cause you care about.
Technical writers help users understand how to use software or technology to reach their goals. In user guides and white papers, these professionals take complicated ideas and make them easy to understand. The role could be a great fit for well-rounded English majors with a knack for research.
The Roosevelt writing minor includes courses on grant writing, technical writing and brand storytelling to help you figure out your career path.
English courses help you become a sharper researcher and analyst, so many students go on to careers in library science and information services. Graduates have gone on to conduct research in libraries, marketing departments and private companies.
To get experience while in school, students should consider working at their college or public library.
Jobs at every level of government require analytical skills and clear writing. Like most jobs suited for English majors, professionals need to communicate well, research and analyze.
English students interested in government should consider taking courses in political science, or continue on to a master’s degree in public administration. You could also start your career in government as a congressional aide — a job that requires communication skills, knowledge of current affairs and versatility.
Lobbyists promote specific issues to legislators. While there aren’t technical prerequisites, you need to communicate and research well. (You probably see a theme here).
While the job has negative connotations, many lobbyists work for nonprofits and push for public protections, civil rights and social justice. Payscale estimates that the average lobbyist earns $74,526 each year.
In 2016, English student Samantha Reid started a blog about her life with chronic illness. Her advocacy work eventually led her to Washington, DC and a lobbying job where she amplifies patient stories on Capitol Hill.