What can I do with a major in english?

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Red Creek Central School District
SUNY Oswego
Palladium Times

Classified Ad Pages Writer

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Employers in NY: 5,693
Employers in US: 79,856


Explore the numerous career fields related to your major


Creative Writing

  • Books 
  • Poetry 
  • Plays 
  • Screenplays 
  • Scripts 
  • Greeting Cards 
  • Lyrics/Jingle Writing


  • Writing/Reporting 
  • Editing

Technical Writing

  • Science and Medical Writing 

Freelance Writing


Broadcast media companies including television, radio, and the movie industry
Trade, professional, or consumer publications
Internet sites
Large corporations
Government agencies including:

  • Department of Homeland Security 
  • Department of Defense 
  • Department of State 
  • Veterans Affairs 
  • National Archives and Records Administration

Universities and university presses
Technical industries

Sample occupations

Select elective coursework in a particular area of interest.
Write for campus publications such as college newspapers, magazines, or departmental or program newsletters.
Volunteer to assist or tutor students in a writing center.
For technical writing positions obtain a concentration in technical writing. Take science and/or computer courses to gain knowledge about technical areas and trends.
Become familiar with the proposal writing and submission process involved in freelance writing.
Gain as much experience as possible through volunteer positions, internships, or part-time jobs.
Demonstrate patience and persistence in starting a career in creative writing.


Student Affairs
Academic Advising
Information/Library Science
Non-Classroom Teaching
Tutoring English as a Second Language (ESL)


Public schools
Private schools
Colleges and universities
Language institutes, local and abroad
Private learning centers
Test preparation organizations
Nonprofit organizations involved with literacy

Sample occupations

Obtain appropriate state certification for public school teaching. Earn certifications to teach multiple subjects or age groups for increased job opportunities.
Earn a master's or doctorate degree for postsecondary teaching. Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations for graduate school.
Plan to attend graduate school in college student personnel or information science for those fields.
Seek volunteer experiences working with children through Big Brother/Sister programs, tutoring, summer camps, YMCA's, etc.
Participate in activities such as debate or literary clubs, campus publications, or student government.
Get involved in roles of leadership such as resident advisor, peer mentor, student advisor, etc.




Trade publishing
Special interest magazines
Trade magazines
Association magazines
Sunday newspaper supplements
Educational publishing
Religious books and magazines
Professional and scholarly publishing
University presses
Independent publishers
Alternative media publishers including:

  • E-books 
  • Audiobooks
Sample occupations

Obtain an internship in the publishing industry.
Participate in a summer publishing institute.
Develop word processing, editing, and desktop publishing skills; build additional technical skills if working in an online environment.
Gain experience by writing for student publications such as the newspaper, creative writing magazines, the yearbook, etc.
Conduct an informational interview with or shadow a professional in the publishing industry.
Look for positions with local dailies and alternative weeklies in the community.
Volunteer to write or edit publications with local nonprofit organizations to gain experience.
Develop extensive grammar and language skills.
Be prepared to relocate to cities with a publishing presence. A large majority of opportunities exist in New York City.
Research the publishing industry to learn more about career ladders.


Creative Services

  • Copy Writing 
  • Art Direction 

Account Management
Account Planning


Advertising agencies
In-house agencies of large companies

Sample occupations

Demonstrate talent, persistence, assertiveness, and enthusiasm.
Be prepared to start in an entry-level position.
Obtain strong statistics background for market research positions.
Create a portfolio of writing showing originality and imagination for creative positions.
Gain knowledge of various media, contemporary tastes, and trends.
Obtain experience with campus newspaper, TV, or radio.
Participate in sales and promotions for student organizations or private businesses.
Complete an internship in a market research firm or advertising agency.
Supplement curriculum with courses in business, marketing, economics, mathematics, art, or graphic design.

Public Relations

Account Coordination
Media Relations
Account Management


Public relations firms
Advertising agencies
In-house public relations departments
Trade associations
Colleges and universities
Nonprofit organizations
Government agencies

Sample occupations

Obtain internship or other relevant work experience to break into this field. Be prepared to start at the bottom and work towards higher levels.
Develop strong research skills, public speaking ability, enthusiasm, and interpersonal skills.
Supplement curriculum with business courses.
Become an effective team member by working on group projects for campus organizations.
Volunteer to write publications for nonprofit or student organizations.


Human Resources

  • Claims
  • Underwriting

Business organizations including:

  • Banks
  • Real estate agencies
  • Insurance firms
  • Large and small corporations

Retailers including:

  • Department
  • Grocery
  • Drug
  • Specialty
  • Variety
  • Book stores
Sample occupations

Obtain a business minor.
Gain relevant experience through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer work.
Secure leadership roles in campus organizations and student professional associations.
eek experience as a financial officer or treasurer of a campus organization.
Develop strong analytical and computer skills.


Law Assistance
Nonprofit or Public Interest


Law firms
Government agencies
State and local government
Public interest organizations
Private practice
Colleges and universities

Sample occupations

Participate in a debate or forensic team to hone communication skills.
Develop strong research skills and attention to detail.
Take courses in and gain experience with mediation and conflict resolution.
Get involved with pre-law organizations.
Obtain a summer or part-time job in a law firm.
Plan to shadow an attorney to learn more about the field and various specialties.
Complete special training requirements for paralegal positions.
Attend law school and earn a JD to become an attorney. Maintain an excellent grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations to gain law school admittance. Plan to take the LSAT.

General information and strategies

  • A bachelor's degree in English is sufficient for many entry level positions in business and industry.
  • A major in English is also good preparation for continued graduate or professional training in areas such as English, law, political science/government, public administration, communications, and religious studies (i.e., seminary).
  • Because English can lead to many different career paths, it is important to identify an area of interest and be thoughtful about gaining the right skills, experience, and credentials to enter that field.
  • Be prepared to be proactive, determined, assertive, and confident in order to secure freelance writing opportunities. Writers typically experience many rejections for each piece that is accepted for publication. Save samples of written work to be used for a portfolio. It can be helpful to cultivate other career opportunities in order to supplement a freelance writing income.
  • Obtain additional areas of expertise such as journalism, broadcasting, technical writing, or politics for specialized positions.
  • For careers in advertising or public relations many begin in an entry-level position.
  • Appropriate teacher certification is required for public school teaching. (A graduate degree is required for teaching at the college or university level.)
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow professionals in careers of interest to learn more about their jobs.
  • Join relevant professional associations. Attend their conferences and read their journals.
  • Write for campus publications such as college newspapers, magazines, or departmental or program newsletters.
  • Volunteer to assist or tutor students in a writing center.
  • Develop word processing, editing, and desktop publishing skills
    • Build additional technical skills if working in an online environment.