Why Study English?

Careers in English

What do actress Emma Watson, former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas all have in common? They were all English majors, and as these prominent individuals’ varied careers demonstrate, a degree in English prepares students for a wide range of careers. RIC English students have found success in such diverse fields as television production, education, and law. Some popular career choices for English majors include

  • Teaching
  • Writing, Editing, and Publishing
  • Law
  • Public Relations and Advertising
  • Journalism and New Media
  • Government and Non-Profit Service

English studies’ focus on careful analysis and critical thinking also provides ideal undergraduate training to prepare students for law school, medical school, and other postgraduate study. As a recent article for Salary.com puts it, “What could be better? For four years you do lots of writing and reading, you talk about writing and reading, then follow up with more writing and reading. Then, the sky’s the limit.”

Why English?

Though some careers, like teaching and writing, may seem like natural choices for an English major, the skills that English majors develop throughout their course of study have always been valuable to a wide range of employers. English students learn to read and write critically, understand variant perspectives, communicate and persuade, research, and think imaginatively. These are highly marketable, transferrable skills with a broad range of applications in fields from banking to technology. In fact, today’s digital career environments have placed these skills in even greater demand, as employers seek out candidates who can comprehend, process, and relay information through diverse platforms. Read about employers discussing why they hire English majors below:

  • Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell says, “I love hiring English majors” in this article for Business Insider.
  • Entrepreneur and writer Steve Strauss explains “Why I Hire English Majors” at The Huffington Post. Reason number 1? “I think what I appreciate most about English majors is that they are taught to think critically, and that is exactly what I want in my business.”
  • A 2013 article proclaims, “English Majors Are the Hot New Hires.” Why? According to the article, it’s because English majors “bring a set of skills that businesses need,” including communication, writing, researching, and critical thinking skills.

English in the News 

English majors have been making news lately, as studies show that English degrees pay off for students and employers alike.

  • An article at Salary.com names the English major as the best “return-upon-investment” college degree, in its list of “8 College Degrees that Will Earn Your Money Back.”
  • According to the Wall Street Journal article, “How to Get Hired,” employers are looking for candidates who can write and speak effectively. The article cites an investment banker who notes, “"I have found that many seemingly qualified candidates are unable to write even the simplest of arguments. No matter how strong one's financial model is, if one cannot write a logical, compelling story, then investors are going to look elsewhere.”
  • A Washington Post article titled “An English Degree Can Translate into Opportunity” notes how English degrees prepare job seekers for a wide range of careers, as “good communications skills [are] something employers value, even in technical and scientific jobs.”

Resources for Job Seekers in English

Advertising

Journalism and Editorial

Public Relations and Research

Publishing

Other Resources for Careers in English

Page last updated: Thursday, March 5, 2015