By Christine Laue, PayScale.com
When earning a living is on the line, you may wonder, “Wherefore art thou an English major?” (Translation for non-Shakespearian scholars: “Why are you an English major?”)
Fear not, English majors have some well-paying career options, says Katie Bardaro, lead analyst for online salary database PayScale.com.
“If you want to major in English and earn a lot of money, you don’t have to figure out how to do that as a writer,” she says. “Take your communication and analytical-thinking skills and apply them in other areas.”
Check out this list of the best-paying jobs for workers who have bachelor’s degrees in English and five to eight years of experience in their field.
Sales Account Manager
Median Annual Salary: $67,300
A sales account manager maintains business relationships with existing clients and seeks opportunities for new clients -- tasks that require strong written and oral communication skills.
Because English majors learn critical thinking, they are well-suited to handle the problem- solving and strategizing issues involved in this job.
Find sales account manager jobs.
IT Project Manager
Median Annual Salary: $67,000
Working as an IT project manager is much like diagraming sentences -- breaking down something complex and then building or reconstructing it. IT project managers plan, coordinate and direct technology-related activities, from installing and upgrading computer software to building network security measures.
To land this job, you’ll want to punctuate your grammar skills with computer knowledge. Employers often prefer a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science-related field. Graduate degrees are sometimes required.
Find IT project manager jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $65,000
Remember persuasive writing? Proposal managers use those same skills to help their organizations land new work.
They coordinate writers, illustrators and other team members to prepare proposals on behalf of their company for contracted projects, like building a school. English majors’ mastery of language and details help them excel in this role.
Find proposal manager jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $58,500
Web developers design and create Web sites and sometimes the content. They are responsible for the site’s performance, capacity and look. A high school diploma may be enough to get started in this field, but an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is sometimes required. You’ll need a full understanding of computer languages such as HTML.
“Being an English major prepared me with critical-thinking skills that I use all the time as a Web developer,” says David Feld, who worked as a newspaper editor and reporter before starting his own Web development business in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2011. “Having that strong writing background helped set me apart from competitors.”
Find Web developer jobs.
Nonprofit Executive Director
Median Annual Salary: $55,200
Nonprofit executive directors devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They oversee an organization’s finances, manage staff, write grants and work with the community.
“An English degree gives you such a great, flexible foundation from which to build a career,” says Laurie Dean Torrell, executive director of Just Buffalo Literary Center in Buffalo. “Every step of my career, I’ve benefited from having that foundation.”
Find nonprofit executive director jobs.
Human Resources Generalist
Median Annual Salary: $54,000
An HR generalist handles all aspects of human resources work, including recruitment; employee relations; payroll and benefits; training; and administering human resources policies, procedures and programs. Communication skills are important when explaining these policies to employees.
Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business or a related field. A certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute is recommended because it shows knowledge and competence across all areas of HR.
Find human resources generalist jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $53,200
Fans of creative writing will likely end up here. A marketing director needs to come up with great ideas and encourage others to do the same. Marketing directors plan, direct and coordinate the marketing of an organization’s products or services.
Work experience in marketing, sales, advertising and promotions is essential.
Find marketing director jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $53,000
A managing editor is responsible for the daily operation of a news department at a newspaper, magazine or television station. Duties include editing content for proper context, planning content and approving final versions of stories.
Today, familiarity with Web design, multimedia production and other electronic-publishing methods keeps a job candidate competitive.
Find managing editor jobs.
Marketing Communications Manager
Median Annual Salary: $50,500
Marcom managers create clear, compelling and concise communications about an organization’s marketing strategy. Their work can include coordinating press releases and Web site content, developing promotional strategies and campaigns, and editing white papers.
Employers usually seek candidates with bachelor’s degrees in English, communications, journalism, public relations or business.
Find marketing communications manager jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $49,100
Technical writers produce instructional manuals and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.
After earning her English degree in 2005 from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, Krystal Gabel held substitute-teaching, library and newspaper jobs. Since July 2011, she’s worked as a technical writer for ACI, an Omaha company that writes software for the banking industry. She loves the challenge of deciphering complicated, technical language for numerous audiences.
“We’re given raw material, and we have to make something of it,” she said. “It’s problem- solving for [the client]. That’s what I like most about being a tech writer.”
Find technical writer jobs.
Source: Salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries are median annual salaries for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing. Job descriptions are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.com.
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