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Career Options

What can I do with an English major?


The real question is what can’t you do? After all, English majors are the hot new hires.

Completing a degree in English will hone your abilities to think critically, to write effectively, and to evaluate and synthesize information. These skills are highly prized in a wide variety of fields, so much so that some businesses and medical schools specifically seek majors in humanities fields like English (see, for example, these articles from Business Week, the New York Times, and Newsweek). In fact, a recent survey of corporate leaders conducted by the Westminster College Gore School of Business identified writing and other communication skills as the number one ability they sought in applicants, followed closely by critical thinking.

Closer to home, English majors work in fields united by a love of language and a desire to communicate ideas and passions effectively. Many become certified to teach in primary or secondary schools or complete additional graduate study to teach at a college level. Some enter the world of print or electronic publishing, either as writers or editors. Others use their English skills to write news articles, advertisements, technical documentation, or grants and other materials for nonprofit organizations.

The following resources provide additional information on the careers you can pursue with an English major: 

In a recent interview, Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines, says that he looks for people with strong communication skills and likes to ask interviewees about the last few books they've read: "He Wants, Subjects, Verbs and Objects."

In a recent article in the New York Daily News, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, and Damon Horowitz, Director of Engineering at Google, say that the humanities are essential to success in the Digital Age: "Want a Job? Major in Liberal Arts."

New York TImes blogger and University of Notre Dame philosophy professor, Gary Gutting, asks a question many people forget to consider, "What is College For?"

The following article in the New York TImes asks an important question about what we value in the careers we seek: "Job Satisfaction vs. a Big Paycheck."

New York Times "Room for Debate" feature: "Career Counselor: Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?"