BHSU English Career Options

What can I do with a major in English?

Learning to write well, analyze texts, and engage in intelligent dialogue are important skills no matter what your career choice might be.

Nevertheless, if you are considering an English major (we have to be practical--you have to eat), it would be a good idea to minor in an area which might make you more marketable. Majoring in English at Black Hills State University will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. The two obvious career choices for most English majors are teaching and writing.

If creative writing is your forte, you might consider pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree; these programs concentrate on creative writing exclusively.

If teaching is in your future, investigate the various avenues available to you: elementary school, middle or high school, college. You do not need teaching certification to teach college, but you will need an advanced degree (usually a Ph.D.). In order to teach elementary, middle, or high school in most states, you will need to enroll in the education program at BHSU and major in English Education; this program will prepare you to teach K -12 and will also prepare you to take the exam required for a teaching certificate. Several states have reciprocal agreements (if you are certified in one state, the other will accept it).

But there are many other possible careers for those majoring in English. The world needs good writers; the world needs good readers; but, most importantly, the world needs good thinkers, and the English major trains you to be a logical and analytical thinker.

Many Fortune 500 companies are now sending their employees back to school to learn to write. An executive recently reported, "We don't need to teach our employees to compute. We need to teach them to write, to read, to think." The ability to express yourself well in print is a gift and, especially in this age of information, writing well is an important asset. Highlight it on your resume.


Other Options

  • Law School: Lawyers need to write and read well; they need to be able to write convincing arguments and have the ability to conduct thoughtful research. Sometime during your junior or senior year you will have to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
  • Medical School: More Humanities majors are enrolled in medical school every year than Biology majors. Sometime during your junior or senior year you will have to take the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT).
  • Publishing: This is where your minor will come in handy. For example, if you minor in Marketing or Advertising, the marketing departments at publishers will be eager to talk with you. If you minor in Chemistry, publishers of chemistry textbooks and chemical literature would be a good spot to look. If you minor in business, publishers will need you for their business operations.
  • College Teaching: Talk with your advisor about planning. Sometime during your junior or senior year you will have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Translators/ESL Teachers: Organizations such as the Peace Corps, the United Nations, and the Red Cross are always on the lookout for potential employees who can teach English or who can work as translators in foreign countries. The more exotic your second language, the more in-demand you will be (for example, depending upon your goals, consider Lakota, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese).
  • Other Fields: Management, Sales, Editing, Copywriting, Personnel officer, Advertising Executive, Technical Writing.

The Writing Minor

The Writing minor is a nice addition to a college major in any subject. Majoring in the sciences or business and a minor in writing will help to sharpen your writing skills and enhance your marketability in your chosen field. And many great writers never majored in English: Walker Percy (a medical doctor and author of The Moviegoer) is just one example. Black Hills State University offers a strong Writing Minor; information can be found the BHSU Academic Catalog, or talk with any professor in the program.