Who says you shouldn’t study literature? Computer programmers might be in high demand, but you can find enjoyable, well-paying jobs with an English degree, too.

Several college majors are constantly under fire for their lack of practicality or success in the labor market: Art, Philosophy, Women and Gender Studies—and English.

Though today’s job market is still mending from the 2008 recession, it isn’t as black and white as it was. English majors are no longer forced into a confined box, limited to professions in education or journalism. Those aspiring to receive an English degree and those who already have one face a labor market that desires their unique set of skills and abilities.

For starters, English majors read and interpret varying data. They formulate sound arguments, backed by detailed research and, in this process, are able to multitask—keeping up with the demands of other classes and topics of study. English degree-holders know what it means to be adaptable.

These transferable talents will go a long way in an unpredictable economic climate. As the job market continues to fluctuate, English majors will emerge, time after time, with their heads above water.

Businesses recognize their talents and discipline; it’s time to expand beyond the box and explore a labor market that could use more creative and adaptable thinkers. These five jobs are just a few of the positions that apply skills obtained throughout an English major’s education:

1. SEO content writer

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a field of online marketing comprised of traditional marketing practices combined with online components. SEO content writers are in high demand all throughout the business industry.

For those unfamiliar with SEO, it’s online advertising: marketing specific clients to various websites. Targeted websites are assessed by Web analytic tools that read their strength and quality. SEO content writers are essentially professional bloggers who write with a specific client in mind. The demand for online marketing has made SEO a crucial element for many businesses.

Most schools don’t offer courses in this field; however, English majors have all the necessary tools to make SEO a profitable career.

Approximate annual salary: $56,000

2. Copywriter

Copywriting is an English major’s dream. Anyone familiar with AMC’s hit show Mad Men has seen a depiction of the industry’s earlier days.

Copywriting is the bridge between creative writing and advertising. It entails proofreading and editing copy, creating banner ads, writing digital and print copy and taking part in social media campaigns via Facebook and Twitter.

Those with a colorful and creative mind should seek a position in this field. Every business, big and small, utilizes a creative department—complete with copywriters.

Approximate annual salary: $53,000

3. Public relations

In today’s economy and the progression from print to digital media, those with a background in journalism will prosper in a switch to public relations. This field requires a strong background in research, database maintenance and the ability to relay vital information in a cohesive manner.

Public relations is the strategic, marketing-based cousin of journalism. PR generalists use AP style writing to create company newsletters, press releases and content for social media.

Approximate annual salary: $52,000

4. Technical writer

Remember when you bought all of those new appliances? Each contained a product manual. Technical writers are in charge of creating these manuals and supporting documents. They communicate complex and technical information in an easy-to-understand way.

As technology increases and the demand for consumer goods rises, technical writing is an industry where many English majors can excel and make a lucrative living.

Approximate annual salary: $52,000

5. B2B content writer

B2B marketing, or business-to-business marketing, centers on organizations and their ability to sell products to other companies for resale. A classic example of this is a wholesaler that sells its products to individual retailers.

Content writers for B2B marketing are in charge of marketing their products for a different type of client, other businesses, not individual people. To reach this type of demographic, most B2B content writers rely heavily on online content writing.

Approximate annual salary: $34,000

English majors utilize skills that work well within today’s demanding business world. While these positions may not lead to writing the next great American novel, combining the creative mind with an entrepreneurial spirit can offer a lucrative life—far from any notion of starving artists.

Salary data from Simply Hired.

Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist for DISH Mobile TV. She is a published journalist and blogger with an English degree and Political Science minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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  2. Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    Thanks for sharing this list! I like how many of the positions you listed blended business and writing.

  3. NotanEnglishmajor

    Mid 50k range, with one at only 32k? These are NOT well-paying jobs…

    • Jared Barneck

      Hah! They consider 32K to 50k well paying? I agree with NotanEnlishMajor.

      I am an English Major. Good thing I am a Senior Software Developer! Go ahead an look up the average Salary of a Senior Software Developer and see if you still think 32k to 50k is well paying.

      My English major did help keep me from being one of the socially weird technical dweebs. And my technical documentation is on par with technical writers–though to be honest, I don’t really copy edit my blog. I leave the typos and I don’t care. But company documentation is copy-edited.

      • Hayden Bridges

        Do you think minoring in computer science would help me get a job as say, a tech journalist?

        • TechJournalistMake40kItsMeh

          Most tech journalists don’t have that level of background. If you’re still in school, it couldn’t hurt. However, you’d probably be better off using your computer science degree

          • ItsKindaMehSometimes

            Meaning maybe you should go into software dev and make the bigger bucks. Maybe. Best thing to help you in journalism is the connections you might make — its not always WHAT you know. Join the school paper and try to get to know, very well, any journalists you can.

  4. recoveringhipster

    This list is disappointingly outdated. Copywriting and technical writing jobs now often need more advanced degrees than an English major… if they still exist as distinct positions at all.

    In other words, those jobs are much more scarce than they were even ten years ago. To tell someone that they could always be a copywriter isn’t much more encouraging than saying, “You could always be an actor.” Copywriting is a competitive field, not something that you can reliably fall back on.

    • jeff loggens

      what’s your job?

      • recoveringhipster

        Desktop support.

        • jeff loggens

          Did you get another degree for that?

          • recoveringhipster

            No, I did not. I got it through my network. It was a clerical job that evolved into desktop support.

          • Hayden Bridges

            So it was on-the-job training or did your company require you to do more academic work?

          • recoveringhipster

            There was on-the-job training in the sense that I had to ask a lot of questions in order to not break everything.

  5. Fourerr

    Technology has made it possible for everyone to be both writers and publishers; making it impossible to filter real talents out there. But with businesses shifting from writing made for search engines to those that will convert more ‘human’ visitors into buyers – I guess, the timing is just perfect.

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