The strength of an English major lies in its emphasis on the skills of reading and writing. Taught to think clearly; to understand the uses of narrative, metaphor, tone, and figures of speech; and to write effectively, English graduates can not only obtain the jobs traditionally associated with English—they can be editors, teachers, journalists, public relations persons, speech writers, and ad writers—but can also leap into any number of mass media positions, government agencies, and business organizations. Lawyers, for instance, spend the majority of their time studying texts in order to write effective arguments about their meaning and significance. Advertising agents must demonstrate the ability to write smart copy. Business CEOs cannot persuade their stockholders to buy or sell unless they know how to communicate advice clearly and effectively. In short, English helps you to keep your professional options open, an extremely important aspect in a world where job opportunities that may seem compelling right now may not even exist five or six months from now. The ability to use language effectively—to read accurately and for meaning, to write compellingly and clearly—is the one skill never made obsolete by changes in the job market.
Nationwide English alumni by profession
The Modern Language Association did a study in 2009 of the most frequent occupations of college graduates with a BA in English (or similar). This chart shows the study’s findings:
Because of its core critical thinking and reading skills, the English major is excellent preparation for graduate study not only in English but in a number of different fields. See Applying to Graduate School for some of the kinds of programs that UT English majors have attended.
Alumni of the UT English major are currently engaged in a remarkable variety of careers, including:
- Community Library Manager for Queens Library in New York
- Attorney specializing in criminal defense and civil rights litigation, Chicago
- Consultant in web development and design
- Vice President for Finance, The Andersons
- Web developer, advertising agency
- Instructors in English, Owens Community College, Rutgers University, and other colleges
- Graduate study in English literature, creative writing, law, business, and many other fields
See alumni profiles for an indication of what the lives of some English majors have been like.