by Beth Sattur
On October 3, 2016, George Anders from Forbes published a list of eleven different jobs for English majors that pay at least $60,000 a year: communications directors ($128,000), editorial directors ($92,000), executive editors ($91,000), content strategists ($90,500), content marketing managers ($82,100), editors-in-chief ($74,900), content managers ($72,200), senior writers ($71,400), web producers ($69,900), technical writers ($69,700) and technical editors ($69,500). So why do so many people still ask English majors: “Do you want to be a teacher?” In part, it is because of older generations’ mistaken fixation on the uselessness of the liberal arts degree. This ignores the versatility and expertise of liberal arts concentrators. As the Forbes list implies, the recent emergence of social media and related advertising has helped to create more jobs in “content creation,” and thus more opportunities for today’s English major.
The English major is also attractive to graduate and professional schools. If law school is in your future, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2011 that lawyers made $130,490 a year on average, a number that includes first year graduates as well as more seasoned attorneys. If working in higher education is your goal, know that jobs are very hard to come by, even if full professors can make anywhere from $88,000 (SUNY) to $223,900 (Columbia) depending on school prestige and subject. One look at NYU’s PhD Alumni pages suggests that many were able to find postdoctoral teaching positions, despite the shrinking job market.
According to Ed Gandia’s 2012 Freelance Industry Report, the freelance sector also pays more than is expected. One-third of those who responded indicated that they received more than $70 an hour, and another quarter said they made between $50-$70 an hour, so less than 50% of the respondents made less than $50 an hour. Tutors, especially for the SAT, ACT, and GRE can earn up to $100 an hour, freelance or otherwise. With the need for content creation growing, the value of content creators is on the rise, even ones who are not exclusively attached to one brand. And if this job market keeps changing, as it must, English majors will be the ones who are able to adapt.
NYU supports the professional development of its undergraduates with resources like the Wasserman Center. The Center is available for appointments with individual career coaches to help you identify a dream, no matter the major. There are hundreds of English majors at NYU, and finding a job should not be a concern for any of them. Whatever your particular interest is—editing, writing, authoring a book, becoming a lawyer, a professor, or—yes—a teacher—you will find support here, and a fulfilling career based on pursuing the major you love.