If you’re currently in college and you’re an English major, you’ve more than likely become familiar with some of the questions that English majors get asked so frequently: “What are you gonna do with that degree?” “Why didn’t you pick a STEM major? Humanities are useless!” “Soooo, you’re gonna be a teacher?”
Well, as a comrade of yours, I’ve come to tell you that the secret to answering these ignorant questions and assumptions is to not even respond to them at all. Having an English degree makes you exceedingly versatile due to the nature of the subject.
You see, being an English major gives you the ability to think exceptionally critically. I mean, you’ll begin to think so critically that you will become excessively analytical to the point that you’ll start to understand people from all walks of life on different levels, and you’ll wonder about the stories that they carry inside of them, and try to understand why they do things the way they do, thereby deciding to agree or disagree with them diplomatically.
This will cause you to determine how you should react or respond to different types of people and situations, such as heated political or social debates with others: “What are they really angry about? What are they actually saying or trying to convey?” You’ll stop arguing with others just to win the argument, and you’ll learn to gracefully bow out when they just won’t allow themselves to understand other sides, they just have to be right. Instead, as a person with an English degree, your job is to see both sides, come to a common ground or conclusion, and get the job done. This is a skill that is in high demand in jobs in every field. Thanks to the many literature classes you have taken (or will take), your mind will develop the ability to break stuff down, and pick up the pieces that are true, false, or neutral and do what is needed with these pieces to help your team of colleagues understand the problem and the best way to go about creating a solution.
The English degree will therefore provide you with some spectacular communication skills! When someone struggles to say exactly what they want, you’ll already understand the message. The fact that you’ll handle so much information in the written form, and the insane amount of research that goes into seeing one topic at eleven different angles, will ensure that you will become detail-oriented and even sometimes a perfectionist (if you aren’t already). People with English degrees are in high demand in the law field for this reason.
Getting an English degree or being an English major doesn’t always equate to wanting to become an author or being a teacher. Some people get English degrees and become all sorts of things. Many students will get their undergrad degree in English and go on to get their Master’s degree to become doctors, lawyers, physicists, or engineers. Other English degree recipients will choose to stay within the field and go on to become writers in the STEM fields.
For example, copywriting is a lucrative position for a writer to be in if they can handle writing material for business advertisements. The text, slogans, product descriptions, and other forms of advertisements that you read on a product or a website was done by a writer(most likely an English major!). Some go on to become technical writers, which is basically the production of the how-to manuals that come with that nice piece of furniture that you bought and now have to put together. Does “insert part A into slot B” sound familiar? Yep, a writer wrote that(most likely, an English major)! There are also scientific writers who either write information for scientists to understand, or they take the scientific information from the scientists and rewrite it in a way for the general public can read understand it. Also, Academic writers write your or your kids’ textbooks. These writers are more than likely English majors.
English majors can also find meaning in a career as an ESL teacher by gaining a TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certification and teaching people of all ages how to speak English and helping them to find opportunities to attend universities and land great jobs. This career will allow you to travel around the world, as well as in language schools and academies while changing people’s lives in a positive way (This is my current job, by the way, and I absolutely love it!).
All of these careers pay a decent salary with copywriters making up to $91K per year to scientific writers making bank at around $127,000 per year (if you’re willing to step up your vocabulary and learn some heavy scientific terminology), of course depending on your experience and credentials. We haven’t even mentioned how an English degree can also lead you down the path to becoming an Editor, and the paths for that are equally, if not more, diverse and abundant.
The other side of being an English major is understanding the application and purpose of rhetoric (If you’re anything like me, your eye might twitch just hearing that word!), which is knowing the purpose of a message, knowing or researching what the whole story is, and understanding why the message was given in the way that it was.
It’s about finding out what the messenger wants you to believe about the source, and why. Where do you hear about rhetoric the most lately? Mainstream and social media! However, when you study the art of rhetoric and its devices, you will be able to identify it in positive and negative aspects everywhere! It will drive you crazier than you may already be because you can spot it anywhere, and it might make your skin crawl! Imagine coming home to your dog looking so happy to see you, wagging his tail, ready to go play fetch with the ball in his mouth, but you notice he crapped all over the house behind him. That’s how rhetoric works! The dog wants you to believe he’s a good boy, but he really deserves the naughty corner!
Being well-versed in this concentration of the English degree will help you in any field where you’d need to be mentally hypersensitive to things that are going on between groups of people such as a sociologist, a social worker, politics, law, the government, a grant writer, etc.
According to an article by CBS News, written in 2018, English majors are in higher demand than Business majors! Why? Well, because of all of the reasons mentioned above! We have all of the skills needed to work in any field. In fact, without English majors or writers, the STEM fields would struggle due to the lack of reading, writing, communication, comprehension, and rhetorical skills that are gained as an English major.
Remember, Engish majors write and edit Math and Science textbooks.
Knowing that you have so many options and opportunities with an English degree, your job after graduation is knowing how to market it and make it work for you. Have a clear vision of what you want to do with it because going to have more opportunities than you can handle, and looking for a job is going to become intimidating (but awesome), because you have the keys to almost any career field! So, just hone your skills and gain experience in the field of work that you might want to enter now.
Now you can stop feeling embarrassed and shamed for getting or having an English degree. You can now let the offenders know that the joke is actually on them and you can work in any field that you want to work in as long as your skills are strong enough for it.
And if you think just getting a Bachelor’s in English was bad, wait ‘til you start an MFA in Creative Writing!
Are you an English major? Do you have your English degree? Sound off in the comments and tell ‘em why you’re mad!
US News: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/english-major-overview