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Phoenix Forward magazine

What can you do with an English degree?

English majors

Prospective employees who hold English degrees are in demand in a growing number of businesses and occupations, according to a July article on recent hiring trends.

The study of literature and the nuances of the language help English majors develop the cultural sophistication and critical-thinking skills required to communicate with diverse populations and a multitude of public and private stakeholders, ranging from government agencies to businesses to the general public, says Greg Beatty, PhD, an online instructor in the University of Phoenix English program

Here are six job options for English majors to consider:


Corporate communications

Corporations often want English majors for their communication skills, says Dorothea Bonneau, MA, a novelist and playwright who teaches creative writing at the University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus. “With so much written communication media now — like Twitter® [posts], blogs, web pages, ad copy and even legal documents — the English degree is very applicable in the business world,” she asserts.

Beatty points out that writing newsletters and memos, and serving as a corporate media liaison are the most common business applications for those who have an English degree. But there are other job possibilities, too.

“Management jobs require a lot of report writing,” Bonneau points out. “And human resource professionals have to write reports, communicate with employees and conduct interviews in a way that’s very precise. People with English degrees can be articulate and really express their ideas, and that’s very important in the global marketplace.”


Entertainment

Jobs for English majors in the entertainment industry include script readers at movie studios and literary agencies, publicists, talent agents and story boarders for production companies, among other careers, Bonneau notes. “The ability to write and communicate is vital [in the industry],” she emphasizes.


Technical writing

Those who get hired in this field are skilled at translating highly complex information into simple language, according to Beatty. “I know English majors who write manuals for banks or Microsoft,” he says, noting that graduates with English degrees also can use their writing and communication abilities in the video game industry.


Teaching

You don’t have to limit yourself to working as a high school English teacher, Beatty notes. Being an instructor for English as a second language (ESL) students and private tutoring are options, too, he says, as well as teaching professional writing and communication skills to working adults as a corporate trainer. Bonneau notes that she taught drama in the California public schools for 30 years.


Grant writing

Nonprofit groups that rely on grant funding — social services agencies, scientific research institutes and fine arts organizations — often hire people with English degrees to write proposals to foundations and wealthy individuals, Beatty says. Grant writers can work on a freelance basis serving multiple organizations or as full-time salaried staffers at individual nonprofits.

Government and politics

Government and politics

The public sector is often a good fit for English majors’ communication and critical-thinking skills, Bonneau points out. “I have many [English-major] friends in state-level government,” she says, “[including] clerks, press secretaries, speechwriters and lobbyists.”

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