What Can You Do with an English Degree?

Troy's English degree provides skills that are highly valued for a range of roles in the public, private, nonprofit, business and government sectors.

Troy's English degree provides skills that are highly valued for a range of roles in the public, private, nonprofit, business and government sectors.

While some college degrees prepare you for specific job titles and careers, an English degree provides skills that are highly valued for a range of roles in the public, private, nonprofit, business and government sectors. 

So if you’re asking, “What jobs can I get with an English degree?” the answer is that you will be prepared for many jobs in different fields and industries, according to Dr. Theresa M. Johnson, Assistant Professor of English at Troy University.

English degree uses are plentiful because English majors develop excellent skills in areas such as communication, creativity, research and analysis — skills, Dr. Johnson says, that are transferable to various careers in education, media and journalism, marketing and advertising, technology and more.

“An English degree allows you to impact the world because English is the lingua franca, the most powerful language in the world,” Dr. Johnson says. “When you graduate with an English degree, you are in high demand because you can communicate through standard written or spoken English with anyone throughout the world.” 

You need only look to TROY alumni to see the variety of jobs you can get with an English degree. Dr. Johnson says TROY graduates have put their undergraduate English degrees to use in careers such as banking, communications, publishing, grant writing, public relations, radio and television, web design and politics, to name a few. 

TROY’s bachelor’s in English program also prepares graduates for law school and other professional and graduate schools, Dr. Johnson notes. 

English Degree Helps TROY Graduate Land Government Job

Katie Dunn’s bachelor’s in English at TROY helped her get her foot in the door at a government contracting office as a receptionist.

“Although not a degree-specific job, I quickly put my English degree to use, as one of my duties was to run the company’s social media platforms as well as proofread all marketing materials prior to release,” she says. “From there, I transitioned to the proposal team, where I was the primary editor for contract bids and contributed as a writer when necessary.”

After realizing she wasn’t interested in persuasive writing, she took a job as a technical writer. For three years, she wrote aviation operator’s manuals, procedures, and standards before getting moved to a different contract as an awards writer. That job was a placeholder for her current position as a project coordinator and operations lead.

“My favorite thing about my job is the unpredictability,” says Katie, who earned her bachelor’s in 2017 and her Master of Science in Strategic Communication in 2018 from TROY. “Although I have certain tasks that I complete weekly, there is no way of knowing what will pop up on any given day, whether it be congressional requests for information or managing a PR release. It is fast-paced and hectic at times, but completing a task under pressure is extremely rewarding, and seeing projects come to fruition makes me proud.”

She says her professors at TROY taught her not to place limits on her career — and she’s glad she listened. 

“The best advice I could give to prospective English majors is don’t limit yourself. Be open to using your skills in a wider range,” she says. “The career path I have chosen does not require an English degree, but my degree has been such an asset. Accelerated reading comprehension, attention to detail that comes with grammar and excellent writing skills are more valuable to the corporate world than you may think. Take advantage of it and remind yourself that it truly does not come easily to everyone.”

English Degree Leads to Rewarding, Satisfying Careers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, 64% of workers with an English degree worked in occupations in:

  • Educational instruction and library 
  • Management 
  • Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media
  • Office and administrative support 
  • Business and financial operations 
  • Other 

The BLS reports these top job titles for those with a bachelor’s degree in English:

  • Manager
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Elementary school teacher
  • Writer and author
  • Editor
  • Chief executive

Lastly, the median wage for those with an English degree in 2019 was $51,000 compared to $60,000 for all fields. 

“If you’re looking for money and only money, then go into aerospace engineering or something like that,” TROY’s Dr. Johnson says. “But if you are looking for happiness and contentment, pursue an English degree.” 

English Degree Helps Graduates Develop Valuable Skills

While Dr. Johnson can assure prospective students asking, “What can you do with an English degree?” that their job opportunities are endless, some are still hesitant.

“It is a hard sell,” she says, particularly for students wanting to earn their bachelor’s degree in exactly four years and go right into a job. Parents who are focused on degrees that lead to specific job outcomes are also slow to see English degree uses, she says.

“Some students come to the University and their parents are saying, ‘You’re going to get a business degree and come back home and run my business.’ Or ‘you’re going to be a nurse.’”

Dr. Johnson points to a line in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: “I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.” 

“Many of our students today aren’t that way,” she says. Instead, they’re often in a hurry to graduate and get a job. Students who see the value of earning an English degree — who understand that English degree uses are many and varied — are unique individuals, Dr. Johnson says.

“To major in English, you have to love to think,” she says. “You have to love to go below the surface.”

By earning an English degree, you’ll develop skills needed in every industry, Dr. Johnson reiterates.

“You’ll gain the ability to think and express those thoughts. That is everything to me,” she says. “When you read English literature, you learn history. You can explore all the nuances of what really happened, and you can become a critical thinker. You can take all that you learn and carry it forward, and you can improve — if not change — humanity.”

Employers Value Employees with an English Degree 

While prospective students may question the value of earning an English degree, many employers do not, Dr. Johnson says. Employees who have a solid command of the English language are highly valued in today’s global marketplace, she says. 

“An employer who, say, went to college and got a banking or business degree, they now have to understand and communicate with companies and people across the globe,” she says. “So they’re going to hire someone who is good with words — and someone who has an English degree is good with words. They are going to be able to communicate with people throughout the world.”

Montgomery, Alabama, for example, is home to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA). Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, the multinational automotive manufacturer needs people, particularly in human resources (where one TROY graduate works), who can break down language barriers, Dr. Johnson says. 

TROY’s English faculty work hard to make certain that graduates have the logical, critical and creative thinking skills they need for success in today’s global culture, she adds. Thanks to their academic advisors, they aren’t left to wonder, “What jobs can I get with an English degree?” 

“TROY is small enough yet large enough to meet the needs and desires of our students,” Dr. Johnson says. “We know our students by name and not by number. And we invest ourselves. I can say that wholeheartedly of all our professors. We get to know our English majors. We take the time to help guide them; to ask, ‘What’s your dream?’”

The English degree, she adds, gives students a firm foundation to be able to think, analyze and express themselves. She believes that those with an English degree “are going to go to the top” in today’s workforce. 

That’s proven true for Dunn, who believes her bachelor’s in English helped her get hired — and move up — at the government contracting office in Huntsville.

“I’m glad I chose TROY for my degree because I know that I would not have gained the confidence to be successful without a program that presented so many different career options and encouraged me to find less obvious paths for my skills,” Dunn says. 

Learn More About TROY’s English Degree “What can you do with an English degree?” With your Bachelor of Arts in English from TROY, the answer is plenty. Learn more about where the TROY English degree can take you. If you want to be certified to teach English in four years, consider TROY’s English/Language Arts Education degree.

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