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So you got an English degree. Now what?

Susan Ricker | June 11, 2014

Shakespeare book store

You can do a lot more than teach English with your expertise.

English degrees are often considered the underdogs of the post-academic world. While others may think that your degree doesn't translate to the business world, they're wrong. Majoring in English is more than reading your favorite books and discussing them with peers -- you'll also learn critical analysis skills and persuasive writing, as well as explore the worlds of psychology, religion, art and sociology. Once you've received an English degree, you've proven yourself to be an articulate, creative and smart individual.

If you received an English degree but aren't sure what's next, consider one of the following career paths and their associated professions.

Law and government institutions

  • Librarian -- Libraries may be the natural habitat of English majors, and what better place to work than a building filled with books and stories?
  • Paralegal and lawyer -- Use the critical analysis and persuasive reasoning you developed earning your English degree, along with your talent for getting through lengthy documents.
  • Speechwriter -- If you participated in debate club while earning your English degree, a career of writing speeches may be in your future. The Internet and cable TV have created a high demand for well-articulated arguments in a world of media gaffes.
  • Teacher -- Certifications and other requirements vary by state, but teaching is a practical application of an English degree, with the main focus on imparting writing and reading skills.

Media and publishing

  • Copywriter -- Businesses and publications need original written content for their websites and other publications, and they rely on writers to clearly communicate their business message to a broad audience.
  • Editor -- Put your proofreading and creative skills to work as an editor and plan, review and revise content for a variety of publications, such as newspapers, books, websites and blogs.
  • Publisher -- Often an English major's dream job, you get creative control over what information from books, magazines, websites and other publications is shared with the world.
  • Reporter, correspondent and broadcast news analyst -- News organizations rely on analysts, reporters and correspondents to identify a story and tell it well to an audience, something English majors have been trained to do.

Sales, marketing and advertising

  • Brand manager -- Working with a company's marketing, communications and advertising specialists, brand managers are responsible for engaging in various types of marketing activities, while maintaining a brand's public image through style and language management.
  • Corporate blogger -- Most companies now have blogs on their websites, bringing a more human voice and feel to their brand. They need writers to understand their company's or brand's message and the tone in which to convey it.
  • Marketing coordinator -- Marketing coordinators keep marketing initiatives organized and focused, taking advantage of the best mediums and events to advertise a brand or company and send one well-organized message.
  • Public-relations specialist -- Responsible for writing media releases and maintaining a positive public image, English majors can thrive in this role by employing their critical analysis and writing skills.
  • Search engine optimization -- Understanding how people communicate and search the Internet capitalizes on the language skills that come with an English degree, as well as the in-demand role of helping organize Web content.