The content of our lives, from the news we read or watch, to the social media that we check first thing in the morning, is driven by professional communicators. English professionals can be found working as writers, editors, public relations specialists at universities, nonprofits, governments, and even as self-employed individuals. If you love the written word, an online English degree may be a perfect fit. You'll undertake a comprehensive study of English grammar, composition, and literary analysis. You'll also examine historical literature and how the written word has shaped modern society. While writing degrees focus on the creative process, online English degrees tend to emphasis critical analysis as applied to the written word. Of course, you will write, although it's usually less creative and more research-oriented. If you earn this degree, you may be able to find work as a teacher, writer or journalist. Many of the career options open to communications majors are also suitable for English majors.
The world of English careers is vast and diverse. A degree in English can lead professionals down many paths, with the persistent opportunity to change their mind and explore new options. Whether you are interested in curating content for a specific industry or curate the knowledge of the language in young minds in the classroom, there are many options across the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics covers a few of the most popular career options for professionals with a degree in English:
- Writers and Authors develop written content for many different types of media including the news, advertising, blogs, television, and—of course—novels and books. On average, writers make around $61,000 each year. As technology continues to grow, the demand for online content and those who produce it will increase; in general, the demand for writers is expected to grow in line with the average rate for jobs in the country, around 8% by 2026. There are many different types of professional writers, such as copywriters, bloggers, biographers, screenwriters, speechwriters, and freelance writers.
- Editors are the professionals that plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication whether it’s in books, newspapers, magazines, or on websites. Like with writers, there are many different specializations for editors publication assistants, copy editors, assistant editors, and executive editors. Editors can usually expect to make just under $60,000 on average, although the salary depends on the scope of the responsibilities and the organization that an editor works for. Although there is a growing need for editors in online media, the number of traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines is declining, and so there is not expected to be any projected job growth for editors in the coming years.
- Public Relations Specialists work for organizations to create and maintain a favorable public image and increases awareness of the organization’s work and goals. Community outreach and customer relations are a key strategy to maintain and enhance the visibility and reputation of organizations and institutions, making PR specialists a hot commodity, especially as we see growing use of social media. In the coming years, job opportunities are expected to grow by 9% while specialists make almost $60,000 annually on average.
- Technical Writers make complex information more easily understandable for the public through instruction manuals, walkthroughs, how-to guides, and journal articles. Technical writers, on average, are among the highest paid English professionals, making around $70,000 each year. It is also one of the fastest growing job fields, with a projected growth rate of 11% by 2026, due to the continuing expansion of scientific and technical products and growth in Web-based product support.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Degrees in English open the door to so much more than just reading and writing: Language and communication is the key to making our world function, and over 20% of the world’s population speak the English language. If you’re curious about how language shapes the world and interested in acquiring tools that will allow you to understand how to communicate with the world around you articulately and beautifully, then consider how a degree in English could get you started on your career journey.
It goes without saying that professionals in the field of English must be expert writers, able to effectively and creatively communicate through well-organized writing. Critical thinking is another skill that is invaluable in the field of English, for professionals to be able to think through content and present it constructively. Also, although it would seem like the perfect career for introverts, many English professionals also work in teams, or with other professionals that require interpersonal skills. If you’re excited to put your skills to use communicating ideas and knowledge to the public, then consider what options may be best for your English career.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Earning an English degree online doesn't mean you intend to become a teacher or a literary critic. Instead, you may be headed for a career as an editor or writer. You could end up working in either the public or private sector, as this degree major spans all fields. Earning an advanced degree may be necessary, however, if you want to continue in academia as a critic or researcher. English literature is also a popular pre-law major. Lawyers read, write and critically analyze compositions and written rules and procedures. If you can master English nuances as an undergraduate student, you'll have great preparation for a life spent reading and writing the law.
English falls under the category of humanities, which is the study of classical languages, literature, philosophy, art and other human disciplines. Related online degree majors include the online humanities degree and the online liberal arts degree. Both of these more general degrees include literature studies, but many other topics, as well.
If you've earned a bachelor's degree in English and want more education or a specific career, consider an online master's in library science. This is a popular online degree if you want to advance in a field that deals with research, books, writing and critical information analysis. If you are less interested in analyzing other people's works and want to write your own, explore any of these options: the online writing degree, creative writing online or a journalism degree. If you’re preparing for a professional career that requires much critical thinking, analysis and writing, an english literature degree is popular among teachers, librarians and writers.
If you are interested in pursuing an academic career in teaching or research, you may want to consider an online doctorate. The degree may allow you to focus on one area of English literature and become a true expert on that topic. Armed with this degree, you could also teach composition and writing, as well as genre literature classes.
Consider online English degree programs that are accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) for additional prestige. There are also certifications available to highlight the competitive specializations of professionals, which can make candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the Society for Technical Communication offers certifications for technical writers.
Our rankings reveal that online english programs can cost, on average, between $30,000 and $50,000, so it’s imperative for aspiring students to explore programs that offer the best bang for their buck. Look for programs that offer specialized courses that suit your interests and opportunities to gain experience through student newspapers, blogs, and internships.