7 High-Income Careers for English Majors

You love writing and dissecting stories. There’s something exciting about uncovering truths of human nature through stories that seem more real than day-to-day life. You’re an English major, or you’re thinking about becoming one.

If you’re like me, you didn’t major in English to make a lot of money. You did it because it was a passion. Maybe you’re even debating whether you SHOULD major in English because it’s not “safe.” The surprising upside of being an English major: The business world NEEDS good writers, and they’ll pay you a lot to write well.

Here are 7 high-paying careers you can pursue as an English major that can be much more reliable and profitable than any “safe” path you’re considering (all salary estimates are based on what I’ve seen in the market and not actual data).

#1 Copy editor

When I got my first “real” job after college, it was as a copy editor. Copy editing doesn’t pay as well as writing, but that doesn’t mean the pay is bad!

The reason? Proofreading is the most objective thing you can do as a writer. (Proofreading is making sure there are no grammatical mistakes, whereas copy editing is changing sentences, words, etc. to enhance clarity and meaning.) Depending on the style you’re writing in, there’s either a comma or there isn’t. It’s as simple as that. Yes, some style is subjective, and experienced writers can “break the rules,” but for the most part, rules are rules. That’s why software like Grammarly can tell you when you’re being redundant-like changing “in order to” to just “to”- or when you need a comma before a coordinating conjunction.

Unlike other careers paths, copy editing and proofreading require less creativity and abstract thinking. If writers are the professional athletes, copy editors are the physical trainers and coaches that make sure writers are performing at their best. Editors sharpen and hone the writer’s material.

The most exciting path as a copy editor, I think, is to work for a publishing house like Simon & Schuster, but the pay is notoriously lackluster and the competition is fierce. Pay for starting copy editors can range from $40k-$60k and may not ever hit over six figures. See #2 through #7 for higher paying options.

#2 Copywriter

No, not copy-righter as in trademarks. Copywriter. You write copy, as in any of the words displayed in physical print or digital media. This could be packaging copy, digital advertisements, website copy, and so on.

Copywriting is focused on evoking emotion and inspiring action. Whether you work at an agency or as an in-house writer, your job is to channel a company’s voice while engaging their target audience. Your writing must be empathetic and relevant. Copywriting is meant to encourage action and educate someone about a solution.

A note: Copywriting is different than content writing. Content writing generally includes longer content pieces, like blogs or e-books. Content writing is useful for driving traffic to a website or establishing a brand’s authority, whereas copywriting is meant to convert and sell. Copywriting almost always pays higher than content writing.

Jr. copywriters can expect to make between $40-$60k. After two or three years, $60-$90k is very realistic, and the more senior you get, six figures and beyond is expected.

#3 Content marketer/content strategist

Corporations these days supply a lot of benefits for families: health, dental, vision, and life insurance, fertility care/leave, and retirement options. Oh. And a salary. Some of the best businesses to work for are enterprise technology companies, and almost every tech company has a marketing team. Marketing teams run on content. It’s their fuel.

But what content do you create and for whom? Content marketers and content strategists write and plan content that moves prospects along the buyer’s journey (awareness, education, and decision).

To put this in perspective, imagine you need to create content to sell Microsoft Excel. Because you don’t know how much someone may or may know about Excel, you need content that teaches people what Excel is, how it helps them, why it’s better than other solutions, and content to convince them to make the plunge (empty their wallets!).

The content marketer’s job is to create all this content that educates and answers potential questions. A great place to learn more is Hubspot’s content marketing course .

The content strategist’s job is, like the name suggests, more strategic. Content strategists will generally take more of an orchestrator role. They may define a company’s voice and tone. Establish messaging guidelines Strategize what content they’re going to make, and then plan how to distribute that content. Should we put the e-book behind a gated form where customers have to enter their email? Should this be a blog post? What is our call to action and where are we leading customers?

Content marketing managers can make between $70k-$110k. Content strategists usually start around $90k and go up from there depending on experience.

#4 UX Writer/Content Designer

You open up the Uber app and see text prompting you to sign in. After signing in, there’s different menus and in-app copy guiding your every action. This is UX writing (user experience writing) or microcopy. Another name for a UX writer is a content designer. Companies use these terms interchangeably. This is the newest and highest paying job in this list. UX writing roles start around $90k and only go up from there. $150k and up is standard for experienced UX writers.

The catch: UX writing has the highest barrier to entry. Typically, you’ll need some type of certification or degree, like this one from UX Writing Hub . Getting your first role in UX writing can be difficult, but there are a lot of resources out there that can help you get started!

#5 Technical Writer

Technical writers usually write very … technical content. Think product documentation or manuals. Some technical writers will also work as UX writers. If you have a stomach for in-the-weeds technical material and can write crystal-clear content that helps users understand and use these types of things, technical writing is for you, and you can make a lot doing it.

Junior technical writers can start at around $60k and only go up from there. After 3–5 years of experience, you should start making $100k and above.

#6 Public relations manager

Are you a journalist at heart? Do you have a list of AP style’s dos and don’ts framed right next to your laptop? Public relations may be for you. Most technology companies have a PR team. In PR, you’ll reach out to publications with upcoming stories about your company, offering them priority access to the news. You’ll also pitch your product to analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester to have them review your product (an antiquated way that B2B technology likes to do business).

There’s some debate that PR is shifting to social as companies and people create their own brands. But for now, this is how the status quo works and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Public relations specialists can expect to make between $55k-$70k, managers $70k and up, and directors well beyond six figures.

#7 Freelancer writer

Want to do any or all of the above? Freelance is your ticket to the sweet life. Picture a digital nomad staying at a foreign resort. Her $10 strawberry smoothie sits on a wooden stand next to her beach-side lounge chair. She writes for two hours and makes thousands of dollars.

Now delete that idea immediately, because for 99% of the population, that’s not what a freelance writer’s life looks like.

Freelance writers have the freedom to set their own schedule and pay rate, but they also must find their own business and close their own sales. This is hard. Especially if you’re not used to sales. But it’s possible; it just takes consistency. And for many, the freedom can be well worth it.

Freelance writers may offer any of the above services, and the pay can range from nothing to a million dollars and beyond.

You may realize passive income is a nice-sounding thing, so you might start writing Medium articles trying to make some extra money. You could start a page that offers exclusive interviews with other content marketers, or you may even start an so you can hire other writers and scale your business.

Take the road less traveled

So should you major in English? Absolutely. If you’re talented at something, chances are you’ll make more money at that than something “safe.” Jim Carrey once said something along the lines of, “Once I saw my father fail at a career he had given comedy up for, I decided if I was going to fail, it was going to be at something I loved.”

Be like Jim Carrey. Chances are you’ll make good money. Tell your well-meaning but overly cautious parents to, respectfully, shove it.

Originally published at https://www.inknami.com on March 11, 2022.




Freelance content strategist and owner @Inknami B2B writing agency.

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Taylor Porter

Taylor Porter

Freelance content strategist and owner @Inknami B2B writing agency.

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