The belief is so widespread, it is a meme: liberal arts majors have no financial future. Instead of taking more "practical" courses, English majors and other liberal arts majors waste their educations reading fiction and making bad guesses at themes or meaning. Because of this perception, many English majors discard a subject they love in pursuit of a career in more "concrete" subjects like science, technology, engineering or math.
But the stereotypical perception of English majors' career prospects is just not true. Many companies actively search for the analytical and communication skills a major in English confers.
English, as a subject, is a large umbrella. Students not only read fiction and analyze it, but also delve deeper into the uses of writing and reading in less esoteric contexts. Some students may be captivated by a particular written art form -- novels, plays, poetry, etc. -- but others focus on the ways texts affect our daily life: memos, instructions, emails and similar writing.
Such a diverse subject opens the door to diverse career opportunities. Further, the core competencies of a major in English -- analysis and communication -- prime these students for rewarding positions in whatever path they choose. The following five jobs are just a handful of the opportunities available to English majors.
1. ESL Teacher
While this one is pretty well-known as a career path for English majors, it is included because of the reward involved. Teaching ESL provides English majors with the opportunity to travel the world, often saving money as they do. Many ESL companies provide not only a competitive salary, but some also provide room and board. In these cases, the salary amount doesn't tell the entire story. Making more money is certainly great, but avoiding expenses is an often-overlooked way to wealth.
In the United Arab Emirates, for example, "Salaries tend to be tax free, and teachers often get additional benefits, like insurance and housing on top of this salary," and they can earn around $2,500 to $5,000 a month.
ESL teachers in the U.S. make a comfortable living, as well: PayScale, as of April 2018, reports United States ESL teachers' average salary range as $40,667, with the top earners making $61,000.
For those English majors who fall in love with reading, becoming a librarian is a natural choice. Gone are the days of the little old lady shushing library patrons. Modern librarians are masters at research in both print and electronic forms. They serve in a variety of environments: corporations, K-12 schools, colleges, law firms, hospitals, prisons, and museums, to name a few.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarians earn on average around $58,520 annually, and the profession is expected to keep pace with other professions at 9 percent growth over the next eight years. No matter if you like nonfiction or fiction, being a librarian is a solid career choice.
3. Marketing Director
As job search site Monster puts it, "Fans of creative writing will likely end up here." The creativity and organization skills needed for directing marketing teams is closely aligned to the same skills needed to write poetry, fiction and drama.
Marketing directors find the best ways to communicate to consumers and present narratives of how life could be. They are master storytellers, and companies reward this skill.
The BLS reports that the yearly salary for marketing directors averaged $145,620 in 2017. Generally, marketing directors begin in a lower position in marketing and work their way up to management positions.
4. Managing Editor
Managing editors are needed in a variety of media: newspapers, magazines, TV stations, podcasts and websites. English majors who love grammar and punctuation make excellent editors.
The BLS placed the median 2017 salary for editors at $58,770 per year. However, this figure varies widely with media sector. Overall, print publications are losing ground, while electronic media are gaining the most market share. New generations of English majors are needed to curate the vast expanses of content on the internet.
5. Technical Writer
When most people think of an English major, they think of reading texts. English majors who love to write gravitate toward technical writing careers. Contrary to the popular conception of technical communication being boring, this profession combines writing and design principles for effective communication.
The median annual salary for technical writers in 2017 was around $70,930. This figure fluctuates depending on industry focus. The more specialized the writing, the higher the price.
No matter what area of English interests you, there is a viable career that draws upon the skills you learn in an accredited program. Beyond reading books by long-dead authors, a contemporary English degree builds analytical and communication skills that employers seek.
Learn more about the LSUA online Bachelor of Arts in English program.
Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook - Technical Writers
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