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5 Writing Jobs You Can Get with an English Degree

Updated on April 6, 2012

What Are Youg Going to Do With That?

The first question someone will ask you is “what is your major?” And the second is almost always “what are you going to do with that?” This can cause anxiety and a quite a high expectation to perform. The easy way out is to say "I am going into teaching."

But what if your an English major and you do not want to teach in a classroom? Nothing against teaching: good pay, decent hours, good benefits, and the satisfaction of impacting a person’s life in a positive way is very rewarding. However teaching is not for everyone, it takes a good deal of patience, and you really do not work for yourself. Maybe you do want to teach, but you want to get some practical experience under your belt so you can better educate your students. Here are some writing jobs that you can get with an English degree; excluding teacher jobs such ESL, Post Secondary education, Tutoring, and School teaching professions.

1. Reporter

If you favor the limelight this may be the position for you. You perform research, prepare stories, and get to be on TV, print publications, radio, or the Internet. Salaries vary widely but the median annual income is $34,850 with a moderate decline in jobs through 2018. Competition will be keen for news stations in metropolitan areas due to the high attraction to the occupation.

2. Copywriter

Write slogans and other advertising material for a company or product. Writers who work in the advertising and public relations have an annual median salary of $58,740. The job of a copywriter is to put words in an easily understood language for target customers. Growth is expected to be good, about 16% increase through 2018.

Technical writers write a variety of material such as these music station manuals.
Technical writers write a variety of material such as these music station manuals.

3. Techical Writer

The highest paid of all these professions with an annual median salary of $61,620. This is perhaps the most promising of all writing occupations, with a projected growth of 18%, (much higher than average) from 48,900 to 57,800 jobs through 2018. This is due to the increasing demand for talent that can translate technical information into easily understood language and the ever increasing size of the internet.

4. Editor

Editors review others material, but very often also regularly write a column or start off as writers. If you have a knack for spotting errors and strong critical thinking skills, this could be the job for you. The job market is a lot tighter for editors due to the closing of many print newspaper companies. The number of editors is estimated to decline about 400 jobs from the current 129,600 with an overall change of approximately 0% through 2018. Jobs should be will be limited those who can show talent and consistency in the editing field. So if you can manage others this would be a good job for you.

5. Freelance!

Freelancers write on a Per-Project basis. You can work as much as or as little as you want. The problem here is getting established and building a portfolio. A great way to do this is start a blog and write for online websites such as our very own hubpages. Freelance writing is the broadest category of writing because you can do any of the jobs above, as well as submit novels, short stories, screenplays, songs, and a variety of other content. Many freelancers have the oppurunity to be self-employed and work from home.

Look No Further Than Your Computer

There is no better time in history to be a writer than today. The internet allows for instantaneous transference of information, so a writer living in Anytown, USA can send a manuscript to a publisher in San Francisco, CA.

If you are reading this article you probably already know that want a career in writing, but you are afraid that there are not enough jobs, money, etc. in writing. Job growth for writers is expected to grow 15% percent from 151,700 to 174,100 during 2008-18. The advantage of having an English degree as opposed to a technical degree is versatility. You can write about anything. You have the skills; all you have to do is the research. It is not impossible for writers to earn well above six figures, and I am not just talking about the Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings. In fact, independent artists and writers and performers earn an annual mean of $93,420. As with anything, this takes time and hard work, but it can be done.

* All job statistics courtesy of United States Department of Labor.


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    • pbsandwichofdoom profile image

      Kathryn Lamoreux 6 years ago

      Wonderful, detailed hub. I'm always happy to see an English degree valued as something that opens doors and creates possibilities rather than closing them just because it isn't business or one of the hard sciences. The information on outlook and salary for each field was interesting too, although I have to wonder if the last figure with the annual mean for artists, writers, and performers is skewed a lot by those few who become famous and obscenely wealthy. A few humongous salaries could really push up the average in a misleading way. However, if worst comes to worst, there's always freelancing on the side of another job or making your bread and butter from copywriting or technical writing while writing the great American novel in your spare time. Thanks for the info!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      I am an English major, and it was instrumental in getting me hired as a public school teacher. However I'm beginning to consider the technical writer aspects.