“So, You Want to be an English Teacher?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this phrase. People ask me all the time what I’m majoring in, in college. When I tell them I’m an English major, I always get that question. Usually, I just smile and nod; however, it has made realize how misinformed people are about jobs for English majors. Teaching isn’t the only thing we can do.

University of Washington

There are so many job opportunities for English majors out there. University of Washington’s English Department website lists some job titles:

Communications/Media

  • Editor
  • Assistant Editor
  • Journalist
  • Screenwriter
  • Copywriter
  • Critic
  • Casting Director
  • Television Reporter
  • Public Relations Assistant
  • Radio Production Assistant
  • Research Analyst
  • Technical Writer
  • ETC.

Business/ Industry

  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Book buyer/seller
  • Account Representative
  • Marketing Consultant
  • Agent
  • Manager
  • Web Content Devleoper/Writer
  • Technical Writer
  • Human Resources Manger
  • Information Architect
  • Corporate Librarian
  • Advising Copy Writer
  • Market Research Analyst
  • ETC.

Government/Non-Profit

  • Agent
  • Executive Director
  • Speechwriter
  • Lobbyist
  • Grant Writer
  • Museum Collections Assistant
  • Fundraising Coordinator
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Archivist
  • Public Relationships Specialist
  • Consultant
  • Human Resources Coordinator
  • Special Events Coordinator
  • ETC.

Education

  • K-12 Teacher (with K-12 certification)
  • Librarian (with MLIS degree)
  • ESL Teacher/Tutor
  • Admissions Representative
  • Assistant Director
  • Development Officer
  • Program Administrator
  • Records Manager
  • Financial Aid Counselor
  • Classroom Assistant
  • Circulation Assistant
  • Credentials Evaluator
  • ETC.

Even if you want to go into the education field but don’t want to teach, there are plenty of job opportunities out there.

Job in a Book Publishing Company

Let’s take an in-depth look at one of the jobs. Let’s take a look at working in a book publishing company. According to Rachel Deahl, there are 8 key roles in the book for this type of work.

  1. Book Editor
  2. Copy Editor
  3. Literary Agent
  4. Literary Scout
  5. Publicist
  6. Production Editor
  7. Marketer and/or Copy Writer
  8. Sales Positions

1. Book Editor

Books editors are in the business of finding literary talent and then working with those writers to publish their books. Not only do book editors find work to publish, but they also edit a writer’s work, helping to mold it into the final product that hits the shelves.

If you’re passionate about reading, and you’re a strong writer with a great eye for good storytelling, a career as a book editor might be right for you.

2. Copy Editor

Copy editors work in various fields of media — for newspapers, magazines and websites. In book publishing copy editors work with editors and make sure authors’ manuscripts are clear of grammatical errors. While many copy editors work full-time, this career is also ideal for those looking for part-time work as many companies hire copy editors on an “as needed” basis.

3. Literary Agent

Literary agents are in the business of finding literary talent, like book editors, only earlier in the process. Literary agents find promising authors, sell their books to book editors, and then take a cut of the proceeds. A sense of how to sell and package a writer — along with a sense of what kind of books will sell in the marketplace — is key to success in this career.

4. Literary Scout

Someone who works in the business once told me the job of a literary scout is one of the best-kept secrets in publishing. Scouts find books — for foreign publishers or film studios — to be published abroad or to be adapted to the screen. This role often requires many years of experience as an assistant editor or editor before being able to recognize hidden talent at the blink of an eye.

5. Publicist

Publicists can also work in various media fields, as well as in the corporate world. Working in book publishing, a publicist usually works for a publishing house and tries to get press attention for the books and authors that the house publishes. If you’re interested in dealing with many different types of people, complex situations and you love reading, being a publicist at a publishing house is a logical fit.

Publicists usually work directly with authors and agencies while pitching books and building relationships with reviewers, websites, media outlets, and literary scenes. Once in a while publicists may have to demonstrate exceptional skills in crisis management and damage control if an author or publishing house gets themselves in some hot water with the press or the public.

6. Production Editor

If you are interested in combining your love of reading with with beautiful, eye-catching designs, you may also make a great production editor. Production editors are responsible for ensuring that manuscripts are edited, designed, proofread, and printed. All of this must be done on schedule, with very minimal delays.

Production departments have strong working relationships with authors as they work diligently to publish the books, on time and looking good as well.

7. Marketer/Copy Editor

Marketers are often good writers themselves as they get to put their writing skills to use in creating press releases, media kits, and catalogues, often writing copy that highlights the great features of an author, a book, or a publishing house campaign.

A position in marketing for a publishing house can be a grueling job, as it is a fast paced job and it is expected that you manage the expectations of editors, authors, and publicists with ease and efficiency.

8. Sales Positions 

Do you have knack for always recommending the perfect book to others and can sell ice in a snowstorm? Well then a career in book sales may just be the perfect role for you.

Know that sales positions are highly collaborative and communicative as they call for close communication with editorial, marketing, and publicity as you help make the sale of books a success. Working in book sales will allow you to make new deals and perhaps travel while being an expert on a variety of books and titles.

I hope this blog post has informed you that teaching English isn’t the only job an English major can do. In the next blog, I will be writing about other jobs and their descriptions.

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