Studying creative writing and classical literature at the college level seems like it would not lend itself to a jobs landscape where STEM jobs are growing twice as fast as the overall market.
Sure enough, the number of English majors, as a proportion of overall college students, has been declining for over two decades, perhaps assisted by the conventional wisdom that holds that such grads are destined for careers as baristas and stories about how many English majors end up regretting their choice.
In reality, though, English majors actually learn many skills that can pay off down the line. Years of focusing on words can help people become better at qualitative analysis, and knowing how to write well and tell stories is essential for any job that involves communication.
Here are a few options for jobs you can get with an English major, as detailed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, all of which pay significantly more than the annual median earnings rate, for an individual, of $46,644. And nearly all of these fields are projected to grow over the next decade, meaning there will be more of these jobs to apply for.
Median salary: $56,950/year ($27.38/hour)
Number of jobs (as of 2018): 95,400
Outlook over the next decade: 9% growth (8,900 new jobs)
Specific job titles: Annual campaign fundraiser, development officer, donor relations officer, online and crowdsource fundraiser
Strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills are important for anyone who works in fundraising. Broadly speaking, a fundraiser's job is to raise money for a cause or organization, and doing so requires identifying potential donors, finding ways to reach out to them, and conveying to them the importance of giving.
Organizational skills are required for keeping records of donors and donations, both for internal use and to satisfy regulatory requirements.
Median salary: $59,480/year ($28.60/hour)
Number of jobs (as of 2018): 118,300
Outlook over the next decade: -3% growth (3,400 fewer jobs)
Specific job titles: Copy editor, production assistant, scientific publications editor, book editor
A job editing written work requires good writing skills. Equally important, however, is an ability to find and identify talented writers. Once that talent is identified and a professional relationship is established, good interpersonal skills are necessary to build and maintain a rapport.
Median salary: $60,000/year ($34.54/hour)
Number of jobs (as of 2018): 270,000
Outlook over the next decade: 6% growth (17,300 new jobs)
Specific job titles: Image consultant, lobbyist, PR representative, press agent, media outreach specialist
PR and communications specialists need to have many of the same skills as fundraisers, even though their jobs don't directly involve bringing in money from outside donors. A PR specialist has to be able to communicate, through a variety of media, on behalf of a company or prominent institution, whether it be with the press, public officials, or directly to the general public.
Median salary: $71,850/year ($34.54/hour)
Number of jobs (as of 2018): 55,700
Outlook over the next decade: 8% growth (4,700 new jobs)
Specific job titles: Content developer, manual writer, policy writer, technical communicator
If you've ever read an instruction manual, you've seen the fruit of a technical writer's labor. An ability to understand complex systems and concepts, and convey that information in a way that's easily digestible for non-technically minded readers, is key if you're writing instructional documents, scientific papers, or grant proposals.
Many technical writers are employed by scientific institutions or tech firms, but some also work as freelancers.
Median salary: $114,800/year ($55.19/hour)
Number of jobs (as of 2018): 81,200
Outlook over the next decade: 8% growth (6,300 new jobs)
Specific job titles: Communication manager, fundraising director
If you work long enough in one of the two corresponding positions listed above this one, there's a good chance that you'll rise through the ranks to a more supervisory role. Written and interpersonal communication skills are essential in the PR and fundraising industries, both for interfacing directly with clients and planning large projects and campaigns carried out by subordinates.