The Ever Underappreciated English Major

on Wednesday, July 2, 2014
    Just over a month ago, I was catching up with an old friend from high school.  We were talking about college and careers, which of course brought up the idea of my inevitably doomed life as a writer and English major.  If there is one think all English majors are ridiculously exhausted of hearing, it's comments about our major and, "how are you going to be able to use that degree?", because we've never heard it from anyone else and we're certain not to hear it again.  After mentioning how I was thinking about changing my major, she said to me (and I'm quoting directly from our Facebook conversation), "I'll admit that I'm glad you've decided not to rely on writing as a career."  Because my start of a blog to fully dedicate myself to my writing is not relying on writing as a career. 
    In case you didn't catch the sarcasm oozing out of that last few sentences, let me clarify something for you: our choice of degree and our career paths are not something to be laughed at.  Instead, it is something that should be commended because we voluntarily chose to pursue something we love over something with a guaranteed future of success, fame, and wealth.  We would rather dedicate our lives to our greatest passion than to give up our dreams for security of a job or finances.  We choose to struggle, knowing full well the trials that lay ahead of us and the limited options we have, and the last thing we need is anyone and everyone trying to convince us that doing what we love for the rest of our lives is not good enough in their eyes.  We did not choose this path to seek your approval.  We chose it because we love it enough to fight for it, and because doing what we love is worth the hardships we will inevitably face.  
    I am a writer because I would rather spend my life writing than working some other desk job that I will not enjoy.  I need to spend my time with books and words or else I will not be happy.  No amount of money or success will be more important to me than the words I can write.  Because why?  Because of this right here.

    Now that that is out of my system, I can get to the point of my post for today. The ever underappreciated English major, and the career paths that lay ahead of them.  I compiled a short list of jobs that English majors are prime candidates for, as well as some other websites with more explanatory lists.

  • Communications for corporations or the government.  These people are important because without understandable communication, businesses would fall apart.
-Marketing, as in blogging or other social media, along with business communications, and even Brand Managing or copywriting.
-Teaching is an incredibly important field.  It is how we inform the general public of everything they need to know about everything.  Communication skills and creativity are necessary.  It takes courage and strength to be a teacher.  An undergraduate degree in English can be very helpful toward a graduate degree in teaching and teaching credentials.
-Human Resources and Public Relations are a growing field despite the decline of face to face contact.  The ability to word thing precisely is the most important skill.  Human Resources does a lot of talking, while public relations does more writing.  Public Relations firms are often hired out by large corporations and the government, and this can lead to a job as the Press Secretary.  Both are important to keeping the public pleased and well informed with the work companies are doing.
-Journalism, which consists mostly of researching and writing.  Strong communication and analytical skills are a necessity in this field which is incredibly huge and diverse.  There are too many fields of journalism to describe.
-Librarian, but not just in a public library helping people find and check out books.  You are assisting in research of all kinds, and can have a higher position in a large university library or even government libraries.  This includes record keeping, researching, organization, and probably a love and knowledge of history.
-Lobbyists are very prominent and an English degree is extremely helpful.  The articulation and knowledge they gain while earning that degree help them to word things precisely enough to be interpreted just as they want.  They are cunning, intelligent, and can be very helpful to the business they work for.

  • Writing which I will not go I to great detail for, because this is generally the department associated with English degrees, besides teaching.
-Creative Writing is the most common job associated with an English degree, and is fairly self explanatory.
-Editing which is incredibly important, and not just for Creative Writers.  Everything with words needs to edited. And there are many positions available for those with a profound knowledge of proper English.  This is probably the most important and most neglected position.
-Publishing is the next step after editing in any writing process.  Not only do publishers have to make everything perfect, they also have to deal with any legal problems of anything they are publishing.  Communication and detailing are incredibly important.  There are so many publishing positions that the public does not know about.
-Technical Writing is just as important as creative writing.  They deal with anything from instruction manuals to creating contracts.  This job is low in creativity, but high in importance.  Every word has to be perfect.  And they usually get paid pretty well.
-Grant & Proposal Writing is the perfect combination of research, analysis, and writing.  Every word has to be carefully chosen when thousands of dollars are at stake for different businesses.
-Analytics, as in policy analytics or ecommerce analytics.  Similar to editing in that you don't necessarily have to write, but you need those skills to analyze and interpret the writing.  

  • Law school  Yes, law school.  They don't always look for the law undergraduate degrees.  Sometimes you need something to make you stand out as a well rounded individual, and an English or communications degree definitely makes you unique and qualified.  It shows you are able to communicate and write clearly with an attention to detail, which is a lawyer's most important job.

    Because I was trying to stay concise, here are more elaborate lists of jobs for English majors:

    Thank you for reading!


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