10 Entry-Level Jobs for English Majors (No, English Teacher Isn’t One of Them) was originally published on The Muse, a great place to research companies and careers. Click here to search for great jobs and companies near you.
When faced with the age-old question “What are you going to do with that degree?” English majors often find themselves wondering how they’ll land a job after graduation. You may think your only options are to become an English teacher, a professional writer, or a lawyer. You might have even heard “jokes” that you’re destined to become a barista.
But actually, if you’re an English major looking to launch your career—either instead of or before pursuing graduate school—you already have many marketable qualities and transferable skills from your education, which has prepared you to succeed across a variety of industries. And there are a number of entry-level positions you can land without an advanced degree or years of work experience already under your belt.
An English major can help you develop a variety of hard and soft skills that allow you to effectively tell stories, build relationships, and move the needle on mission-driven work—all of which can be an asset in a wide array of jobs. A few of these key skills are:
- Research: If you’ve ever written a lit review or research paper, you know that extensive research is the key to success. English majors are uniquely positioned to find and evaluate a lot of information as well as dissect different perspectives to find what’s vital for the task at hand.
- Critical thinking: English majors learn how to look for the meaning behind words, analyze a wealth of information, and explore possible implications. Then they organize all of that information in a way that is relevant to their current situation in order to arrive at a conclusion. This kind of critical thinking is helpful across job types and industries and often goes hand-in-hand with innovation, creativity, and solution-oriented thinking—soft skills many employers are also looking for.
- Written communication: This might seem obvious, but English majors are required to write extensively as a foundational part of their academic experiences. They also develop proofreading and editing skills at the same time. As luck would have it, strong writing skills are consistently a top-ranked attribute for employers looking to hire candidates.
- Presentation: Once they’ve done their reading, completed their research, or written their papers, English majors often have to deliver information verbally in a way that can be easily digested by their target audience. Giving oral presentations that are dynamic and consider multiple angles is also a valuable business skill.
- Time management: English majors are typically juggling a heavy reading and writing project load within their major in addition to other required courses. Doing this well requires the ability to manage multiple priorities and tasks all at once. This skill transfers nicely into any professional environment where they might have competing deadlines, use multiple channels of communication, and build cross-functional relationships.
With those skills in mind, here are ten jobs you might consider pursuing with a bachelor’s degree in English along with salary information from the compensation resource Payscale (note that Payscale’s database is updated nightly; the figures below reflect the latest information as of February 2021):
Average entry-level salary: $41,700
Copywriters research, write, edit, and proof written communications in many different industries, with a core focus on marketing and advertising copy to promote goods and services. Their writing makes its way to places like company websites, blogs, ads, email newsletters, and even social media. This is a great position for job seekers with English degrees because it involves so much writing and allows them to explore a variety of interesting subjects and categories. The parallels between writing copy and a short persuasive essay (or even just a standout paragraph or sentence within that essay) make this position an easy transition. Starting out as a copywriter is a great setup for future job opportunities in marketing, advertising, or PR, because you’ll build experience writing persuasively for many different audiences and markets across print, web, social media, and more.
Average entry-level salary: $33,702
Reporters write news stories for print, broadcast, or other news media. They are responsible for examining local, national, and international news trends to identify topics of potential interest as well as staying on the pulse of what’s going on to break news that’s of interest to the public. Reporters find sources to interview and vet their credibility. They also conduct other research and investigations and fact check their work. English majors are well suited for this type of job given their experience writing and finding strong sources and evidence. Reporters often have certain beats, like local news, business, pop culture, or science, and English majors can dive deep into a very specific category or work across categories as a general assignment reporter. Either way, they can leverage their research and storytelling skills to bring newsworthy stories to light. Working as a reporter is a great way to gain journalism experience and grow your portfolio, which can lead to positions with more prestigious news outlets; editor roles with magazines, newspapers, and other publications; or leadership opportunities within the world of journalism.
Average entry-level salary: $37,334
Social media coordinators implement social media strategies designed to promote a company’s work, products, and services on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok. In addition to creating content themselves—whether they’re writing a tweet or making a graphic for Instagram—they often find content from other sources that lines up with their managers’ big picture marketing strategy to share on the company’s social feeds. Writing up posting plans that help meet marketing goals; finding inspiration for new posts, reels, or stories; and scheduling content through platforms like Planoly or Later are all in a day’s work for a social media coordinator. The time management skills English majors gain during college make for a smooth transition into a role with multiple priorities like this one.
It’s important to note that there is variance in job titles for entry-level social media positions. At some companies, you may find that a social media manager role is similar in scope and required qualifications to a coordinator or assistant role. At other organizations, a social media manager might be a higher-level position that requires several years of experience as a coordinator or an advanced degree and may be responsible for managing a team.
Average entry-level salary: $39,473
Paralegals assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, and researching legal precedent. English majors are a great fit because they’re used to sorting through a lot of information to find answers and communicating the most relevant or useful ideas. The ability to conduct research and prepare and organize documents to support legal proceedings also requires a keen attention to detail and strong problem solving abilities—both things English majors have learned during college.
Paralegal positions at larger organizations often have multiple seniority levels. So you may still have the title of paralegal, but your role will change over time. The more experience you have, the higher the rate of pay—and you may even manage junior paralegals and legal assistants. Of course, it’s not uncommon for college graduates to start their careers as paralegals to gain experience before going to law school to become attorneys themselves.
Average entry-level salary: $35,106
Editorial assistants help with a variety of administrative and creative tasks in the book publishing and print and digital media industries. Editorial assistants in each industry have different job duties and future career paths in terms of long-term job options. Regardless of where you work, you’ll likely have to schedule meetings, communicate with writers, and help editors with a variety of editorial and administrative tasks. In book publishing, your day-to-day schedule might also include things like screening manuscripts and query letters, writing or editing marketing or book flap copy, or proofreading and formatting text ahead of publication. These positions are usually considered a prerequisite to break into editor roles in publishing. In print and digital media, it’s not uncommon for an assistant to also pitch, research, and fact check stories; transcribe interviews; find interview sources; or even assist with photo shoots.
Being an editorial assistant is dependent upon strong organizational, interpersonal, and of course, writing skills—so English majors are a great fit. It also requires the ability to prioritize efficiently and focus on multiple assignments with competing prioritiese. Once you gather experience, credibility, and a network of contacts from working in this entry-level role, you are well-suited to explore jobs as a writer or editor later in your career—all jobs that will continue to pull from your experience as an English major.
Average entry-level salary: $37,129
Public relations coordinators help to create and maintain a positive public image for a company, brand, or individual client by trying to get them featured in different publications or highlighted in media coverage. They’re also likely to help respond to and facilitate interviews and other requests from journalists. The strong storytelling, writing, and interpersonal skills English majors often have are important for this role, as it tends to include both written content development (like press releases and social media posts) as well as face-to-face engagement at special events with journalists or other media professionals to gain support or foster relationships. Much of a public relations coordinator’s work serves as a complement to a public relations manager or director’s overall strategy. Over time, you can move up into a manager or director role so that you’re the one creating and leading campaigns.
Average entry-level salary: $44,669
Account managers serve as the point of contact between a company and its external clients. This includes communicating client needs to internal staff; working with the sales, marketing, and other departments on presentations, strategies, and products to suit those needs; monitoring budgets; and renewing client contracts while looking for opportunities to upsell them; among other duties. These roles are commonly found in advertising and marketing agencies, as well as at other companies that manage a wide portfolio of client accounts, like those in tech or financial services.
Once again, communication skills are a key link between this role and the experience an English major brings to the table. Figuring out a client’s needs and making connections to ways they can help clients solve those needs with the product or service their company sells requires effective storytelling, research, and interpersonal communication skills. Additionally, AMs will draw on organizational and time management skills to run multiple accounts efficiently. After taking on an account manager position, it’s possible to transition to team leadership roles to make a bigger impact on a company’s bottom line as an account director, team manager, or director of account services—leading an organization’s entire account management department.
Average entry-level salary: $49,208
Technical writers create instruction manuals, how-to guides, and other documents for customers and clients that help communicate complex technical information in an accessible way. They often need to review product samples, connect with designers and developers, and/or conduct deep research to gather relevant information. In addition to a strong research acumen, technical writers must be able to synthesize complex concepts into relatable text. Entry-level technical writing jobs do not require graduate degrees, and there is growth potential to land positions that oversee and manage other technical writers. Or you might decide you want to move into adjacent roles, such as user experience (UX) writing. English majors are equipped for these jobs based on strong writing skills and experience synthesizing dense and/or complex information into engaging and easy-to-read content.
Average entry-level salary: $40,576
Fundraising professionals typically lead fundraising campaigns, events, and relationship building aimed at collecting money and other donations to support the organization they work for; they’re commonly employed by nonprofit organizations, universities, and some hospitals. Increasing awareness of the organization’s work, goals, and needs is also key, so strong communication and organization skills are both important for making an impact as an effective fundraiser. Some fundraising professionals also focus on grant writing and sponsorship solicitation to bring in money instead of direct outreach to individual donors. For grant writing and foundation relations work, having a strong writing ability is critical for successful applications, reports, and more.
Fundraiser, development officer, or grant writing coordinator roles are all related job titles you can look for to enter the fundraising/development profession, and will prepare you well to take on other positions in the nonprofit or corporate sector such as business development manager, corporate social responsibility manager, or relationship manager—all of which require you to identify and build strong external relationships with other businesses, the community, or prospective clients.
Average entry-level salary: $62,944
Associate consultant is one of the job titles you might have when you start at management consulting firms such as Bain, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), or Accenture. Consulting firms help other organizations improve their performance in different areas like accounting, business operations, regulatory compliance, and human resource management. New consulting professionals typically work under senior management consultants—on their own or as part of a team of other associates—and assist senior consultants with tasks such as research and presentation deck creation. Tasks may also include interviewing client customers, competitors, suppliers, and employees to gather and interpret data that will inform final recommendations for the client.
Associate consultants are expected to interact with clients and stay on top of communication throughout their projects. Clear communication and the ability to identify problems through deep analysis, whether through writing, in a discussion setting, or in the course of conducting research, are in an English major’s wheelhouse. Associate consultant roles set you up to rise through the ranks within management consulting to senior consulting roles, as well as to pivot into a variety of industries and organizations that consulting firms might have as clients—ranging from education to financial services to government and healthcare.