English Degree

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What is English Language and Literature?

English language and literature is the field of study that prepares individuals with knowledge pertaining to the linguistic nature of English, its syntax, vocabulary and grammar, and how it is applied in literary form through poetry, literature, and other forms of creative writing. Individuals studying in this field will have a strong understanding of language and structure, and develop skills useful in a variety of environments, such as editorial, educational and business.

Educational Requirements for English Majors

Individuals can study English language and literature from the associate level onward, with higher level degrees opening up opportunities and possibilities. Associate degrees and bachelor degrees allow individuals employment opportunities in publishing, and other related fields, often in an editorial or assistant capacity. Students will cover a wide variety of literature in their studies, as well as an examination of the language itself and how it is used.

A curriculum may include:

  • Modern American Literature
  • English
  • Linguistics
  • Comparative Literature
  • History of the English Language

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Employment Opportunities for English Majors

Individuals with an education in English language and literature will typically pursue employment in fields that have use for the skills one develops through such study. This includes writing, editing, marketing, business, technical writing and more. Individuals with graduate level education may seek employment as teachers and professors, in some instances a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for public schools in need of educators or private schools.

Job Growth, Salary, and Related Career Fields

The average annual income for English teachers is $63,730 with the highest 10% making in excess of $130,000 per year and the lowest 10% making $35,790 per year.  The top employers of English teachers in the United States include: colleges & universities, junior colleges, professional schools, trade schools, and business schools.

States with the Highest Level of Employment for English Majors 

  • New York             7,870
  • California            7,020
  • Texas                    5,660
  • Pennsylvania      4,350
  • New Jersey         3,210

Top Paying States for English Majors

  1. California                 $110,490
  2. New York                  $92,810
  3. Illinois                       $87,480
  4. New Hampshire      $81,210
  5. Maine                        $80,410

Individuals will be subject to the growth of their chosen field after completing their education. Fields such as marketing will have growth, whereas others, such as editing may see limited growth in the future. Similarly, one's salary will be based on the field chosen, with fields such as fiction writing having wildly varied income, or publishing, where managerial or editorial positions can be lucrative.

Individuals interested in English language and literature may also be interested in linguistics, English literature, and creative writing.

Additional Resources for English Majors

For additional research, consider connecting with associations and organizations that target English aficionados.   Examples include the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL), the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP), the Center of Applied Linguistics (CAL), or the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL).

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Related Areas of Study

Career Summary: English Major




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