10 High-Paying Jobs for English Majors

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Majoring in English can translate to important skills that matter to employers, from writing compelling copy and analyzing textual meaning to empathizing with others.

[Featured Image] An English major stands in a library learning against a bookshelf while holding two books.

Whether you’re still in school or already hold an English degree, you may be wondering what careers are available to you and what kind of roles your coursework has prepared you for. 

The great news is that people with English degrees commonly find employment in education and legal services, but graduates have also filled positions in a variety of other industries [1]. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported as recently as 2019 that the median annual wage in the US for people with English degrees was $51,000, higher than the median wage in the United States across all occupations ($41,950) [2].

This section explores 10 jobs for English majors (other than teaching) with average salaries above the median. Discover what these jobs entail and how your degree skills might apply. 

*Data on average/median US salaries, the number of job listings, and projected job growth for 2030 for these careers was taken from Glassdoor and BLS data, as of January 2022.  

1. Copywriter  

Average salary: $58,656

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 2, 870

Projected growth for 2030: 9 percent

Copywriters work in a variety of industries to compose short-form content that promotes and sells a company’s products or services. Examples of this kind of content include slogans, social media posts, and website copy. Copywriters must consider the goals of a company, the brand voice, and the needs and desires of target customers in order to be effective.

How your English major skills apply: Writing literary analysis or persuasive essays and gaining an understanding of story structure, character development, rhetoric, and culture may help you empathize with your target audience, and thus compose engaging content. In addition, having a good command of grammar and a diverse vocabulary can help you write impactful short-form copy. 

Content writing vs. copywriting

Content writing is a related role that you may see job listings for when searching for copywriting positions. Copywriters and content writers both generate content to drive customer behavior. Content writers generally write longer pieces to inform an audience, while copywriters write shorter pieces to persuade an audience.

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2. User experience (UX) writer

Average salary: $112,726

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 201

Projected growth for 2030: 13 percent

UX writers create copy for websites, apps, and programs, so that users can more easily navigate a product. This can include writing “microcopy” for call-to-action buttons, menus, labels, chatbots, and error messages. UX writers must consider the design and layout of a site or app, as well as the brand voice and needs of a site visitor. 

How your English major skills apply: Your facility with language can help you compose microcopy with greater awareness. Additionally, if you’ve ever found a work of literature or a scholarly article difficult to navigate, that experience may help you empathize with a site visitor and understand what they’re looking for. 

Read more: What is a UX Writer? Writing for the User

3. Grant writer 

Average salary: $52,005

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 400

Grant writers often work for nonprofit or charitable organizations, conducting research and composing proposals to help organizations secure funding for projects. A grant proposal can consist of several components, including a statement of need, project objective, budget, and letters of support. 

How your English major skills apply: Consider how your research skills, even research on literature, culture, or history could make you an effective grant proposal researcher. In addition, your experience writing persuasive essays could help you inspire funders to consider the merits of projects you help seek funding for. 

4. Technical writer 

Average salary: $68,555

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 3,061

Projected growth for 2030: 12 percent

Technical writers create instruction manuals, how tos, and other documents that make complex information or procedures easy for readers to understand. They may collaborate with subject-matter experts to ensure that documents contain accurate, factual information. Technical writing is a versatile career, with opportunities in fields such as technology, construction, business, and finance.  

How your English major skills apply: Some English departments may offer degree specializations or coursework in technical writing to prepare students for these roles. Even if you have a literature, creative writing, or rhetoric and composition emphasis, you may be able to leverage your analytical skills, research capabilities, and ability to structure information logically.

5. Medical writer

Average salary: $85,267

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 553

Projected growth for 2030: 12 percent

Medical writers help to bridge the gap between scientific medical knowledge and institutions such as hospitals, medical centers, and pharmaceutical companies. Some of what they write includes medical journal abstracts, pamphlets to distribute to patients, web copy, educational material, and even advertising copy and news releases. 

How your English major skills apply: Your command of language, passion for factual information, and empathy for patients can help you compose material that informs a general audience. You can also leverage your research and close reading skills to synthesize complex information so that others can understand it easily.   

6. Editor

Average salary: $59,531

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 4,286

Projected growth for 2030: 5 percent

Editing is a career path with diverse applications, from magazine and newspaper editing, to a number of editorial positions at a book publishing company. Editors work with writers and content creators to ensure that written material is high quality, free of errors, and meets the goals of a company. They may also be responsible for managing a team of writers, providing them with guidance and support, and selecting publication-worthy material. 

How your English major skills apply: Working your way up to an editorial role at a publishing house could be a great way to combine your passion for reading with the business side of publishing. How are book deals made? What book categories and topics are trending at any given moment? Which new releases are becoming bestsellers? Which authors are rising to stardom?

Some colleges and universities now offer degrees in publishing, which may be a path to consider if your goal is to succeed in the publishing industry. You can also attend writing conferences to gain industry knowledge and interact directly with literary agents and editors. 

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7. Social media manager

Average salary: $55,117

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 27,766

Projected growth for 2030: 10 percent 

Social media managers help companies increase their exposure through different social media platforms to attract new customers. In addition, social media managers analyze data to determine which campaigns and marketing approaches are succeeding. They may manage a team of social media marketers and collaborate with other marketing or advertising teams within a company. 

How your English major skills apply: Your writing skills can help you compose effective content that boosts a website’s rankings, as well as refine the tone, voice, and diction of different marketing assets.  

Check out the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate to learn how to create Facebook ads, design campaigns for target audiences, establish a social media presence, and craft paid ad assets. 

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Read more: Social Media Jobs: 6 Roles to Explore

8. Brand strategist  

Average salary: $101,508

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 5,828

Projected growth for 2030: 10 percent

Brand strategists are typically responsible for understanding a company’s products, analyzing market research, and developing a brand strategy to reach target customers. They monitor the tone, messaging, and imagery of all brand elements to be in line with the overall brand strategy. Related roles might include brand designer and content strategy manager. 

How your English major skills apply: You may be able to draw upon your gifts as a storyteller and knowledge of story structure to help companies convey their brand story and message to target audiences.  

9. Public relations manager

Average salary: $96,328

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 4,795

Projected growth for 2030: 11 percent

Public relations managers are responsible for communicating a company’s value proposition to the world and maintaining a positive image and reputation for the company. They may create media coverage plans and work to ensure that all messaging is ethical and accurate. 

How your English major skills apply: Your written and verbal communications skills can help you to compose content that creates a positive image of a company in the eyes of the public, as well as translate complex information into everyday language. 

10. Consultant

Average salary: $90,490

No. of US jobs on Glassdoor: 34,918

Projected growth for 2030: 14 percent

Consultants work in many industries in the areas of technology, business growth, employee relations, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), among others, to help organizations achieve their goals. They serve in an advisory role, providing opinions, analysis, and recommendations to a company’s decision makers to improve performance and prevent problems.   

How your English major skills apply: Your written and verbal communication skills, as well as any teaching and mentoring experience you may have, can help you to deliver recommendations to companies or clients in a way that they can implement easily. 

Make the most of your English degree: 8 tips

Now that you know what you can do with an English degree, your next step is to discover entry-level and advancement opportunities that may be available to you. 

Here are eight strategies to open up more possibilities along your professional journey:  

  • Sign up for elective courses that expose you to other disciplines, such as business or foreign languages, through which you may find out about relevant job opportunities. 

  • Look for internship, volunteer, or non-salary opportunities that allow you to apply your degree skills in a real-world business environment. For example, literary agents, who represent authors and get a commission of book sales, often get their start by interning under an experienced agent at an established agency.  

  • Search jobs listings for positions you’re interested in, particularly ones that list English as a required or preferred degree. Also consider applying for jobs that list communications, marketing, journalism, or “degrees in related fields,” as these employers may be open to hiring someone with English degree skills.

  • Build a portfolio of professional work by taking on freelance projects that highlight the tasks listed in the job descriptions you find in your searches. These might include copywriting, proofreading, fact-checking, sensitivity reading, writing book reviews, tutoring, or event planning gigs.

  • Attend networking events and professional conferences. Make it your goal to meet people who value your background, previous projects, and skills and who can point you in the direction of career opportunities.

  • Follow your favorite brands and influencers on social media and subscribe to them via email. Be on the lookout for “We’re hiring!” or “Want to work for us?” announcements, especially for positions related to writing, communications, or marketing.

  • Study different industries and look for ways an English major could help them grow. For example, as cryptocurrency and blockchain technology enter the mainstream, someone with an English degree and UX writing skills could help make crypto content and platforms more user-friendly.

Read more: What Can You Do with a Communication Degree: 10 Career Paths

Next steps 

As you explore various career opportunities and gain relevant experience, remember to update your resume on a continual basis. Remember to tailor your resume to each job that you apply for, describe your previous roles and accomplishments using action verbs, and emphasize the quantifiable results of your work. 

Also, consider continuing your education beyond an undergraduate or graduate program. This can be a great way to connect your English degree coursework to industry trends and the needs of different companies. Explore new possibilities by taking courses on topics like writing and editing, or getting a certificate in a versatile skill like project management.     

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Article sources

1. Data USA. “English Employment, https://datausa.io/profile/cip/english#employment.” Accessed December 22, 2021.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/field-of-degree/english/english-field-of-degree.htm.” Accessed December 23, 2021. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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