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Careers in English

“What can I do with an English major?” That’s a question we hear often—and one you may already have asked yourself. Although experience suggests it’s a mistake to assume your choice of major will predetermine the entire course of your life, it’s certainly appropriate to wonder what opportunities this choice might open up or foreclose. The quick—and not inaccurate—answer is that an ETS major opens up almost everything and forecloses almost nothing.

Your path is clearer, of course, if you plan to become a teacher or professor: you’ll be heading to advanced studies in graduate school. But what if teaching is not the right choice for you? Many businesses and professions recognize the value of the conceptual, analytical, research, and communicative abilities developed by English and other humanities majors. Our majors find careers in such fields as law, journalism and other communications media, publishing, advertising, business, industry, and government. Some of these fields require additional education or experience, but your liberal arts education provides the kind of foundation considered essential by many professions and employers.

The department office in Hall of Languages 401 has copies of several books on jobs for English majors, and Advising and Career Services in the College of Arts and Sciences (Hall of Languages 329, 315-443-3150) can offer further help in discovering career options.

The Learning Outcomes described in our ETS Curriculum will give you a sense of the skills acquired in the ETS major. The articles below will show you how those skills apply to employment in today’s workforce.

Articles and Statistics about English Majors in the Workforce

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"What Can I Do with a Degree in English?": an interactive chart from George Mason University detailing the many different careers available to graduates with training in English studies.

"The Myth of the English Major Barista": Robert Matz, Professor of English and Senior Associate Dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, tackles the joke about the Starbucks English major to show where students of English really work and to reassess the value of intellectual labor in this article for Inside Higher Education.

"Career Options": an at-a-glance list of possible English-major careers, broken down by sector, compiled by Regis University.

"Best Careers for English Majors": a collection of information on careers for English majors, with salaries and job-growth statistics and a list of professional organizations in different fields.

Exam Excellence: English students excel on the GRE and LSAT.

"Hunting for Soft Skills, Companies Scoop Up English Majors": Nikki Waller for the Wall Street Journal reports that "jobs for liberal arts grads grow as employers seek skilled communicators."

"Go Ahead, Get That Liberal Arts Degree": Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business, demonstrates that liberal-arts majors' adaptability makes them better-equipped for employment for the long term.

"You Don’t Need to Know How to Code to Make it in Silicon Valley"LinkedIn finds that "liberal arts grads are joining the tech workforce more rapidly than technical grads."

"That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket": Forbes reports, "Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex., software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger."

"Why Entrepreneurs Should Hire English Majors": Steve Strauss, a business lawyer, describes for USA Today how the qualities he favors in businesses' employees are best found in English majors.