Dear Barb – What can I do with an English degree?

Dear Barb:

I have just finished my English degree at Athabasca University. I’m wondering what career options I have with an English degree. It seems a lot of English graduates go into teaching, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do. I am willing to further my education if necessary. Can you suggest some career options for an English major? Thanks ahead of time.

Jen in Mississauga

Good question Jen. You are right. It appears that many English graduates end up teaching. However, that may have been what they originally intended to do.

An English degree can be a starting point for further education. Have you checked out Athabasca University’s website at ? This is an excellent site that not only lists possible career options, but also program learning outcomes and possible further education options. Most universities provide similar information on their sites, so it might be worthwhile to check out several.

As an English major, you have a lot of skills to offer a potential employer. The following are some skills of English graduates listed on the University of Manitoba website:

“¢ Ability to read and write articulately and analytically
“¢ Comprehensive knowledge of grammar and vocabulary
“¢ Ability to listen, clarify, question and respond comprehensively
“¢ Ability to conduct and clearly explain research results
“¢ Ability to make critical observations
“¢ Skills in organizing ideas, materials and people
“¢ Ability to think creatively
“¢ Ability to present persuasive arguments
“¢ Skills in textual analysis and interpretation
“¢ Good social skills

Here are some of the possible career options for English majors listed on the Athabasca University website:

“¢ Writer
“¢ Technical Playwright
“¢ Novelist
“¢ Poet
“¢ Journalist
“¢ Editor
“¢ Publisher
“¢ Proofreader
“¢ Copywriter
“¢ Film/Television Producer
“¢ Civil/Foreign Service Officer
“¢ Project Manager
“¢ English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
“¢ Researcher

Jobs that may require additional education include:

“¢ Consumer researcher
“¢ Public relations/information specialist
“¢ Corporate communication specialist
“¢ Policy and procedures analyst
“¢ Information abstractor/indexer
“¢ Book critic

Perhaps you want to start your own editing/writing business. There are several books available to assist you in starting your own business. The following references are for a couple of relevant books.

Parker, L. (2003). How to Start a Home-Based Writing Business. Fourth edition. The Globe Pequot Press.

Brabec, B. (2000). Make It Profitable!: How to Make Your Art, Craft, Design, Writing or Publishing Business More Efficient, More Satisfying. M. Evans and Company, Inc.

Good Luck Jen. As you can see, with an English degree you have many career choices.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.