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Fruitfulness of pursuing an English degree.

Hong214Hong214 Registered User Posts: 119 Junior Member
edited January 2012 in Other College Majors
I'm currently a freshmen in college pursuing an English B.A. However, I've had my doubts on whether I would be able to come out making a decent salary, or even find a job for that matter. I've heard countless stories about English majors coming out with nothing to do, but teach. I don't really mind teaching; however, I would prefer to teach at a university, in which case, I would need to continue my studies past the undergraduate level. Is it worth going for an English degree? Are job chances really that slim and salaries disparagingly low? What other jobs can one do besides teach?
Post edited by Hong214 on

Replies to: Fruitfulness of pursuing an English degree.

  • ANDS!ANDS! Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    Like any degree, just having one opens you up to employment opportunities otherwise closed off. Of course you are correct that the job market for those wanting to use their degree is pretty limited to certain jobs.

    If you want to teach, depending on where you are - a masters is all you need for university work. You wont get tenure and will most likely be just "staff", but you'll still be able to teach at a university. With anything else, you'll need a PhD if you want a long term assignment (good thing is youll get to teach on your way to a PhD).
  • chancy319chancy319 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Majoring in just English isn't very marketable especially if you are looking to get into the job market after school. Try double majoring in a business degree (like Economics, Marketing etc) or something else that compliments an English degree. There are hardly any jobs for a core English major. That's the cold, hard truth. You can land a teaching job or if you are lucky or "know people" a job in another industry but do you really want to roll a dice on your future?
  • Joynjoyness23Joynjoyness23 Registered User Posts: 189 Junior Member
    What about technical writing?
  • mrbc2011mrbc2011 Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    I disagree with chancy319. The idea that your undergrad major needs to be closely tied to your future career is silly. I majored in medieval and renaissance studies, and I'm in publishing now. I work on economics books.

    You can do anything with an English major. You'll have marketable skills - writing, research, critical thinking. No, you may not immediately find a job after graduation. But it isn't like majoring in economics will automatically guarantee you a job either.

    I think you should study what interests you, and the rest will follow. You're only a freshman. When I was a freshman, I thought I'd move on to my Ph.D. right after undergrad and become a museum curator. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Do some internships, talk to your career center, and be as open as you possibly can. Apply for everything.

    (And just so you know, my three best friends were English majors. They're all currently employed; one is doing TFA and the other two are in publishing.)
  • Joynjoyness23Joynjoyness23 Registered User Posts: 189 Junior Member
    I think that no major is particularly marketable, except engineering, computer science, or applied math with an emphasis on comp sci. Do what you want to do. If you are good at what you do, you'll find your niche in society, even if it isn't right away like mrbc2011 said.
  • DreburdenDreburden Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    TFA, how did you get into publishing? As a student whose strengths lie in reading/writing, it seems like it could be a good career, and proof that those who don't study STEM or business are doomed to be under/unemployed.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    English is as solid as it gets. People who think its not a good degree are idiots. Employers need people who can write and communicate. PS. I don't know where you live, but do you know how much private tutors make? In NY, at least $150 an hour. Whatever you do, if you have to, you can always make supplemental income.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    Starting wages in publishing are, sadly, as low as they get. I know.
  • URichmond2010URichmond2010 Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    Sigh. Please go back to #8. Thanks, @redpoint, for making the point (heh.) that I am tired of making over and over and over on these boards.
  • ANDS!ANDS! Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    People who think its not a good degree are idiots.

    Good doesn't mean viable. And no one even said it WASN'T good. Obviously people need to defend their majors, but sorry folks labor stats and eyes on the ground dont lie. In California there is a glut of English majors and you're seeing Masters and Doctorals having to get "creative" with their degrees to find employment.
  • mrbc2011mrbc2011 Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    I'm living on a publishing starting salary right now. In Manhattan. Sure, I'm not rich, but I'm doing just fine.
    Maybe I could be making more money somewhere else, but I'm really happy here. It isn't all about money.

    As for how to get into publishing - internships. Intern anywhere - in any department. It'll get your foot in the door, help you make some contacts, and eventually find a job. NYC is the very best place, but there are publishing companies (especially University Presses) spread all over.
  • redpointredpoint Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    Mrbc. Been there, done that. Internships, NY, publishing. I love editing and writing, love it, but I think kids have to know getting into it that it doesn't pay and it will be a constant struggle. For me, it worked out because I can live on my spouses earnings, but one can't count on it. And if you have kids, try sending them to college on that salary. I'm not trying to be a downer. I just wish I got proper advice before I went own that road. Not that I would have taken it. Still, there are plenty of things to do with an English degree. And a day job in publishing and a few hours tutoring private school kids afterwards might actually be plenty of money, now that I think of it.
  • URichmond2010URichmond2010 Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    @ANDS! I don't think we're talking about a masters or a doctorate in this thread. We're talking about a B.A., and a solid B.A. in English with internships and passion can get you in a lot of doors. The problem masters and doctorate students in English are having is that they are likely competing for very few university teaching positions. They are, like many who have sought higher degrees in this economy and are unable or unwilling to pursue teaching, considered overqualified for many positions.

    A B.A. in English is a solid degree. It teaches you to analyze and communicate effectively...and to write. You would be shocked by how many grown adults can write a simple email or memo.
This discussion has been closed.