Is An English Degree Worth Getting?
Many college degrees have come and gone over the years, as technological changes have caused some degrees to lose their viability, while other degrees have been created to serve new niches. One constant in the world of college degrees for centuries has been a degree in the English language. Since an English degree is viewed as such a broad and common degree, many students preparing for or attending college ask: Is an English degree worth getting? It is not unusual for students to wonder what they can actually do with an English degree in the real world, upon graduating college.
Is An English Degree Worth Getting?
Jobs That Are Available To Those With An English Degree
While some jobs have been eliminated by the incredible power that computers possess, writing jobs are not among them. Computers can do a lot of things, but they cannot write creatively or interact with people on the level needed by most employers to produce high quality written materials that humans like to read. Having a degree in English opens up a whole slew of writing-related job opportunities, including but not limited to: copy writing, proposal writing, technical writing, online content writing, journalism, authoring articles and books, and editing. While it may be possible to land a job in some of these fields without an English degree, having an English degree is a requirement with some employers looking to fill writing and editing positions, and having an English degree provides one the command of the English language that is necessary to succeed and excel in the fields of writing and editing.
Other job opportunities for those with an English degree include a variety of teaching positions. Teaching English in middle and high (secondary) school requires at least a bachelor’s degree in English. Having a master’s degree in English can lead to higher pay levels for English teachers and open up the door to teaching English at community and junior colleges. A doctorate (Ph.D.) degree in English is often a requirement to pursue a career teaching English at four year colleges and universities. Master’s and doctorate degrees in English can also be useful if one wants to pursue a career as a professional editor, since having an advanced degree will not only open up job opportunities, but can also help accelerate the rate of advancement in an editing career.
While a college degree is not always needed to teach English as a second language, having an English degree can help if one wants to live abroad in a non-English speaking country, since there is often a robust market for people trying to learn English as a second language. Having the strong command of the English language that an English degree provides can make one a confident English teacher to those learning the language for the first time.
Possessing a bachelor’s degree in English can also help one to excel in their career, even if their career is not directly related to writing, editing, or teaching English. While people bring many skills to their workplace, writing and editing skills are often lacking in those possessing degrees other than English. Well written communication and editing skills can help one stand out and make a positive impression at the workplace.
Why An English Degree Is Worth Getting
For those who grew up in English speaking countries, contemplating earning an English degree in college may cause them to think back to their days in middle and high (secondary) school, when their English teacher drove home the mechanics of the English language via countless exercises and tests. For many students, English was not their favorite subject. Between the endless rules, exceptions, and nuances of the English language, and the differences of opinion amongst English teachers regarding the proper use of the English language, learning proper English can be a downright frustrating experience since proper written English does not always jibe with the spoken English that people learned organically while growing up.
When considering whether an English degree is worth earning while attending college, a student needs to set aside their pre-conceived notations of what English classes were like, and consider the benefits that such a broad degree can have for their career, once they are done with college. The fact of the matter is, while not the sexist college degree, an English degree has a lot of practical uses in the job market, and for that reason an English degree is worth getting. Not only can an English degree open up many job opportunities, it can also advance one’s career ambitions, if one decides to pursue job opportunities not directly related to their formal education in English.
A Broad English Degree May Give One An Edge In The Fast Changing Job Market
There is nothing scarier to an aging worker than the realization that the career that they studied in college and spent their adult life cultivating is becoming irrelevant. Like the English language, the job market is not static; it is constantly changing, with demand for some professions decreasing over time due to technological changes and changes in the overall economy. That is the danger associated with earning a specialized degree in college and pursuing a narrow career path based on a specific field of interest.
So, is an English degree worth getting? Yes, an English degree is a broad degree that will be relevant and marketable in the job market as long as the English language continues to be written and spoken. The biggest technological change in a generation, the advent of the Internet, has made possessing an English degree more relevant than ever, as the explosion of online writing content has increased demand for people with good English writing and editing skills.
Jobs For English Majors
"What is English?" Video - Arizona State University Department of English
© 2012 John Coviello