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Career Options for an English Major Part 1

Have you ever thought about being an English major but hesitated because of unknown future employment opportunities? You are not alone. My name is Laura Locher, and I am a senior English major with a Communication Studies minor. Coming into school freshman year, I knew I wanted to study English, but I also knew I did not want to be a teacher. So, what were my other options? I am here to present to future English majors a variety of different career paths that may be unknown as you enter college. Part 1 will focus on the more well-known jobs of an English major – i.e., publishing, editing, author, etc. Part 2, however, will focus on more unconventional jobs like advertising, paralegal, insurance, etc.

Editing/Publishing –

  1. Proofreader: A proofreader is, as you can assume, someone who reads things closely with the intention of marking corrections in a proof. Proofreading is a very specific type of editing that entails looking for spelling, punctuation, and consistency errors.
  • Where proofreaders work: publishing houses (independent and corporate), magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies, etc.
  1. Copyeditor: Copyediting is even more of a tedious process than proofreading. Copyeditors not only proofread the copy (the text itself), but they also check sentences for good flow and structure. Copyeditors also fact check the text and offer rewrites to improve the piece.
  • Where copyeditors work: Copyeditors can work for magazines, publishing houses, freelance (for anyone who needs this service), the newspaper, advertising agencies, etc.
  1. Editorial acquisitions: An acquisitions editor is responsible for acquiring written projects said company needs. For example, I interned for an independent publishing house in NYC in 2019 as the editorial acquisitions associate. I met and communicated with authors and essayists who provided books and academic resources the company desired.
  • Where acquisition editors work: Acquisition editors work primarily at publishing houses or magazines.

Writing –

  1. Author: As most of you know already, the role of an author is to create original ideas via books, movies, magazine articles, poems, academic journals, etc.
  • Where authors work: Nowadays, authors self-publish on a variety of platforms. The most successful though, seemingly, have a contract with either an independent or corporate publishing house who does all of the behind the scenes work when creating, releasing, promoting, and selling an author’s work.
  1. Technical writer: The role of a technical writer is to communicate within a company extremely technical information in an accessible way. Do not underestimate the importance of this job path. The skill of technical writing has been on a steady decline over the last 5-7 years due to a rapid increase in technology doing everything for us. People’s ability to write well and communicate difficult ideas to another person is hard to come by. This is a much-needed job.
  • Where technical writer’s work: Primarily in scientific, engineering, computer, and big corporation settings. But do not stop here, technical writers are needed at a plethora of jobs.
  1. Essayist: A person who writes essays. Yes, you all know this. Being an essayist is a job, particularly in research fields of study so I wanted to share it with you. I would not necessarily recommend this job however it is a job for a reason.
  • Where essayists work: Research institutes, colleges and universities, for the government, etc.
  1. Poet: A person who writes poems. Again, a beautiful career for the few and far between who make it. But I still thought the poet should be acknowledged.

Where poets work: Poets are typically self-published unless an independent or major publishing house acquires them. You can also occasionally freelance for people seeking original poetry. Is becoming a poet the most secure job out there for an English major? No. But if that’s what you love to do then

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