What can I do with a degree in English?

All English majors ask themselves that question at least once in their undergraduate career; many ask multiple times, especially as graduation draws closer!  The good news is that the answer is "anything!”  The bad news is that you will rarely find a job listing titled “English major.”  What this means is that you will have to do some thinking about what it is you enjoy, and how your skills and passions might translate into a particular job.  For instance, if you are a mountain biking enthusiast, you might apply for jobs at magazines specializing in the outdoors.  Love music?  Consider writing promotional materials for a performing arts center.  The English degree provides you with the most important skills for any job. You are able to think critically and creatively; to write and speak clearly and effectively; to interpret and analyze different types of texts; to conduct and synthesize research; to recognize nuance and subtlety; to understand complex metaphors; and to empathize with and connect to others.  Don’t sell these skills short—they are the building blocks to a successful career.  

Professional Development within the English Major

The English Department supports students’ career development through the major curriculum. In English 202: Introduction to Literary Studies, which is required of all majors, English Majors are introduced to the variety of professional fields available to majors and develop effective strategies for developing their résumés through internships and service-learning experiences. In addition, this course includes at least one presentation from Career Services on the resources available for students throughout their time at Cal Poly. In English 220: Introduction to Writing Studies and English 221: Introduction to Technical and Professional Communication, one of which is required all English Majors, students develop real-world writing and professional and communication abilities that provide the foundational skills for many career paths. The English Department also hosts a Speed Networking Event for majors with English alumni who have gone into such fields as publishing, technical communication, education, screenwriting, entertainment, marketing, and advertising, to name a few.

We encourage our majors to explore the resources provided by our excellent Career Services Office

In addition, go to our Alumni Profiles site to hear directly from several Cal Poly English alumni. We have listed below some careers our alums have chosen.

You may also visit DearEnglishMajor.com. A website that is dedicated to showing English majors all that is possible with an English degree.

Business/ Industry

  • Public relations for an engineering corporation
  • Technical writer
  • Graphic design
  • Corporate librarian
  • Director of Business Development, BBSI
  • Communications Director, Florida Natural Gas Association
  • Advertising Sales National Account Executive Radio Disney
  • Executive Vice President Marketing and eCommerce Teleflora, LLC
  • Marketing Manager, Charles Schwab
  • Bookkeeper 

Legal Services:

  • Attorney
  • Litigation Paralegal
  • Assistant General Counsel, Deloitte LLP
  • Deputy District Attorney for the Riverside District Attorney's Office 


  • Director of Alumni Relations
  • High school teacher: public and private systems
  • Community college instructor
  • University professor
  • Principal
  • Organizational Development & Training Manager, San Jose State University
  • Career Services Director
  • University President
  • Software License Coordinator - Oregon State University

Government/ Non-profit

  • Environmental planner
  • Foreign Service Officer--US Dept. Of State
  • U.S. Department of Justice - Trial Attorney
  • Analyst, State of California WIC Program
  • CHP Officer - State of California
  • Public Information Officer II, State of California
  • Park ranger, center for natural lands management
  • Federal Public Defender

Media/ Communications/ Arts

  • Technical writer
  • Advertising copywriter
  • Journalist
  • Self employed writer, producer, director
  • Art Director, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Marketing for a performance arts center
  • Textbook writer, Longman Publishers (Pearson Education)
  • Content editor, CTB/McGraw-Hill
  • Fiction writer


  • Patient Care Manager, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford
  • Registered Nurse



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