Converting Your English Major Into a Career

It’s become something of a cliché that you can’t get a job with an English major. In point of fact, you can, but you just might have to be a little bit more creative. There are many real world industries and applications that need people who can communicate in clear language, particularly the written word. An English major prepares you for just that.

When you investigate some of the possibilities, you may conclude that an English major is more valuable to have than you ever imagined.

Here are some of those possibilities:


This is probably the all time default choice of English majors everywhere. But it’s also one of the best overall fits in the teaching profession. When you major in English, you’re not only well-versed in speaking and writing, but bigger picture – in communications. Teaching children how to communicate is the most basic form of education.

English as a Second Language

Converting Your English Major Into a Career
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As the world becomes more internationalized, the need for everyone to learn each other’s language is becoming more important over time. English is particularly well positioned for this, since is the closest thing to a universal language that exists in the world. Throughout the world, people need English as a second language. In many school systems, particularly in Europe, English is often taught as a second language.

Related: Why Your Major Needs to Match Your Passion

But much of the world doesn’t learn English this way, and that’s where an English major becomes particularly valuable. Many people don’t learn English until well into their adult lives, when careers require it. Still others need to have it taught to their children, due to a move to an English-speaking country.

There are different ways you can play this phenomenon as an English major. One is to teach English to foreign speakers who want to move to Canada. But another – a potentially much more lucrative one – is to move to another country, and teach it to the locals.

Many people know they’re going to move to an English speaking country, or enter a career that will require English, well in advance. They’re interested in learning English – from a native English speaker – before making the move. If you’re adventurous, and always dreamed of moving to another country, you might be able to become an English language teacher in the country of your choice.

Writer or Editor

A lot of English majors have been discouraged from going into writing and editing due to the decline of the print media. But while more traditional jobs in magazines and newspapers may be on the decline, they are more than being replaced by developments on the Internet.

The Internet is all about communications – and that’s typically done with the written word. That opens up opportunities to produce copy for websites and blogs. It also creates openings for editors, particularly since writing on the web is a lot less centralized than it ever was in the print media. Websites need editors to make sure that there are standards in their web copy.

Related: Writing Academic Papers for Profit

As websites grow, or as bricks and mortar companies expand their web presence, jobs are opening up for both writers and editors in web related fields. An English major is an excellent foundation to launch just such a career. You may have to learn some of the more technical aspects of writing on the web, such as search engine optimization, but in truth, the web has become what the print media used to be.

Freelance Writer

The web has also opened up opportunities to use your English major as a way to become an entrepreneur, certainly much more so than in the past. Since many websites and the companies behind them are too small to hire full-time or even part-time people to write and edit for the websites, there are many opportunities to do it on a freelance or contract basis.

Related: How to Become a Freelance Writer

There are even web content sites, such as Associated Content where you can get started. Just don’t stay there too long – the pay is low, and what you’re mostly looking for are experience and exposure. Once you get as much as you need, it will be time to move on and sell your skills directly to web clients.

Technical Writer

This may not work out too well if you’re a generalist, but it could be a gold mine if there is some technical subject that you are very interested in, particularly in areas such as computers, investments, or insurance.

As a technical writer, you may be getting involved in producing product or service manuals, white papers, advertising brochures or newsletters. It’s a matter of being able to blend good writing skills with technical knowledge and disciplines. And since the specializations can be so significant, the compensation can be quite impressive too. You can also do this either as an employee, or as a freelancer.

Have you thought about any of these possibilities, if you’re an English major?

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