What can someone with a BA in English do for a living?
Students graduating with an English degree possess an unusual number and variety of skills, both subject-specific and general in nature. These “hard” and “soft” skills render English graduates highly desirable job candidates in a wide variety of careers and professions.
Subject-specific (“hard”) skills
An English graduate’s subject-specific skills include detail-oriented and balanced critical approaches to texts and spoken language; an understanding of the power of language and the ways in which it is used to create meaning, to influence, to persuade, and to inform; the ability to read for and articulate explicit, implicit, and hidden meanings in a text; an understanding of the distinctions in register and tone that can be found in written texts and how they are typically perceived by various audiences; sensitivity to the role circumstance, authorship, audience, and readership play in shaping, disseminating, and receiving a text or oral communication; an awareness and appreciation for, and the ability to articulate, how social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning and influence our judgment of texts both oral and written in nature; an ability to conduct research and apply it to a better understanding of a given text or effort to communicate; the ability to read, distill, summarize, and communicate large amounts of text or other forms of information in a relatively short period of time.
General (“soft”) skills
An English graduate’s general skills include effective development and presentation of an argument or other communication whether oral or written; time-management and prioritization of tasks; the ability to plan, develop, and deliver by deadline a project or presentation both individually and as part of a group; the ability to view a problem from multiple perspectives before arriving at an answer; the ability to think critically and independently about a problem and to apply multiple theories and to research possible solutions as needed; the ability to consider and critically determine the relevance, significance, or credibility of a variety of sources and other materials; and the technological and informational skills required for a typical university student, such as word processing, Excel/ spreadsheets, using databases, communication via multiple Internet platforms, and presentation software and platforms (Powerpoint, Prezi, Google Slides).
Jobs that require the skills English majors have:
- publishing agent or editor
- television, film, or radio writer or editor
- marketing/advertising/PR/social media strategist
- executive or manager in any given industry
- marketing researcher, consultant, or analyst
- paralegal/legal aide/law clerk
- policy analyst, political speechwriter
- lobbyist, ambassador, diplomat, politician
- direct response and digital copywriting
- technical writing, grant writing
- corporate blogging, communication officer
- nonprofit manager or executive director
- human resources generalist/recruiter
- university admissions officer
- artistic director
- digital or film archivist
- museum technician, curator, or archivist
- art gallery director
- environmental activist/environmental humanities
- administrative or executive assistant
- social services