A degree in English provides openings to many employment opportunities and further study in such areas as law and other advanced degrees. It is common knowledge that effective communication is essential to almost any field of endeavor. A degree in English represents not only the ability to write well, but also provides well-developed skills in both critical and lateral thinking. The most commonly expected field of employment for someone with a degree in English is teaching, but the degree provides access to employment in areas such as editing, publishing, business communications, web content writing, freelance writing, and many aspects of the publishing field. Internet communication has revolutionized the way professionals in any field convey information, and even though texting has altered the way casual acquaintances communicate, a clear understanding of written communication is essential in the profession. Employers in the professional world expect the skills, abilities, and cognitive development that a degree in English can provide.
- Decision Making - Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.
- Listening - Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.
- Managing Time - Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.
- Reading Comprehension - Ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.
- Reasoning - Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Speaking - Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.
- Writing and Authoring - Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.
- Helping - Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Teaching - Teaching others how to do something.
To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the English field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.”
As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.
- English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
- Insurance Underwriters
- Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers
- Producers and Directors
Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program.
There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, search USAJobs.gov, and look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.
The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students and training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans, due to their military service obligation, will have up to six years to apply).The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).
The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract to federal service outstanding men and women from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible for nomination, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree from a qualifying college or university.
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience, and in some cases full-time employment, to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of whom makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation, and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.
The list below provides a few examples of federal agencies where English degree holders might find employment. Clicking on the position title will take you to the corresponding position classification guide provided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Each position within the federal government is classified under a series of numbers. For example, the “Information and Arts Group” is within the 1000 series. You can narrow down the exact series number based on your interests and search for it on USAjobs.gov across hundreds of federal agencies. Click here to see a list of federal positions by major.
- Editorial Assistants
- Misc. Admin. and Programs Specialists
- Program Analysts
- Program Managers
- Public Affair Specialists
- Technical Writers and Editors
- Writers and Editors
While many of the major job search engines will have positions in several fields to choose from, the list below is specific to the English field.