What Can You Do With an English Major?

One of my least favorite conversations to have with members of my family is the dreaded “what can you do with an English major?” With Thanksgiving in just a few weeks, I feel it is beneficial to brush up on a knowledgeable and concise response that showcases which different career options are available post-graduation. Along with a tailored response, this blog post provides a space to reflect on different career options that you may be interested in post-graduation.

The City University of New York has created a detailed explanation about the different values and skills featured in English courses, such as analysis, writing and oral communication, collaboration, and problem solving. These attributes are further enhanced with an in-depth explanation of each skill and how they can be applied to any field. These skills taught in the humanities are so valued by companies that according to a 2018 study, English majors are more likely to be hired by employers than business majors. The CBS article where the study was published states “students in these majors (like business) may not be learning communication and critical thinking skills, which means they may lack the writing and reasoning abilities that employers want in new hires” (Picchi). This quotation showcases the importance for values that the humanities provide within not only within a worker, but also in a workplace environment.

Although there is statistical evidence to support that people who major in English will find work after they graduate, many people fall back on the stereotype of the “English major barista.” Robert Matz’s article “The Myth of the English Major Barista” shows how the old joke “would you like fries with that major” has changed due to the cultural shift in what is perceived as fast food. According to one study, only 3.5% of English majors become baristas, which is only 1.4% more likely to work in food service than other degree holders. The actual top occupations for English majors include elementary, middle, and post-secondary school teachers, along with lawyers, judges, and magistrates. Other occupations include becoming either a medical, scientific, technical, or business writer, along with the field of publication and editing.

English degrees can sometimes be seen as a path of study with no set career at the end of an educational journey. However, what most do not understand is the values and skills taught and learnt within the major set one apart from all other potential hires, as they foster a sense of empathy and understanding that is neglected within other majors. No matter which career path you choose, the skills, values, and perspectives you have acquired throughout your time studying English will enhance and elevate any career that you select.