Many students who pursue a master’s degree in English do it because they have a love for the written word. After spending years reading, discussing and writing about books, they sometimes wonder how they can turn their passion into a lucrative profession. However, an M.A. in English is a surprisingly versatile degree that can lead to many fulfilling careers. These jobs utilize an English major’s skills in writing, analyzing, editing and communicating.
Though it is hard to obtain a teaching position at a four-year college with an M.A., community colleges often hire instructors with master’s degrees. Openings are most often found for writing classes and sometimes for literature survey courses. However, teaching at the college level is not the only option. Many private high schools do not require a teaching certificate for their instructors. Check with your state for its independent school association. Often this association will have a website where private schools from around the state post job openings. If you are interested in teaching at a public institution, some high schools offer an alternative certification program in which you teach while earning your teaching certificate.
Academic, trade, scholarly, textbook and specialty publishing companies have a variety of good opportunities for someone with an M.A. in English. Without previous experience, most new hires will start out as some sort of assistant, often doing administrative work. In publishing, many of the people who are employed as editors worked their way up from those same assistant positions. Periodical publishing companies also have job opportunities that fit with the skills of someone with a degree in English. Look for openings in copywriting and production.
The Internet has created a need for writers to produce online content. There are new opportunities to write for web-based magazines and news outlets. Many times, these jobs can be done from home. While magazines and newspapers, whether online or in print, are traditional employers of writers, look in unexpected places as well. Nonprofit agencies, computer software companies, government agencies and educational facilities are all places that need the services of a good writer. Often, someone in a writing profession will also be called upon to act as an editor or proofreader. A job candidate with a master’s degree in English is especially valuable because these skills are already well developed.
Public Relations Specialist
A public relations specialist works to create positive relationships between the public and a business. Because many of the duties of a PR person involve writing press releases and working with the media, the writing and communication abilities of someone with an English degree are essential. However, beginning positions within a PR firm are highly sought after and very competitive. Finding an initial position as a public relations intern can help make you a more attractive job applicant when a permanent position becomes available.
Shelia Odak has over 10 years writing and editing experience for consumer and trade publications including "Radio/TV Interview Report." She has worked for over nine years in education and holds a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Odak writes on a range of topics including education, literature and frugal living.