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English Language & Literature Major

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English Language & Literature

$73,090 Median Salary

Types of Degrees English Language & Literature Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many English language and literature graduations there were in 2019-2020 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 41,537
Master’s Degree 7,906
Associate Degree 3,425
Basic Certificate 1,771
Doctor’s Degree 1,303
Undergraduate Certificate 513
Graduate Certificate 405

What English Language & Literature Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, English language and literature majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for English Language & Literature Majors

English Language and Literature majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for English Language & Literature Majors

A major in English language and literature prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for English Language & Literature Majors

As a English language and literature major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

What Can You Do With a English Language & Literature Major?

People with a English language and literature degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Copy Writers 7.6% $62,170
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170
Professors 9.4% $65,660
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Technical Writers 10.9% $71,850

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language & Literature?

41,537 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
72% Percent Women
31% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 72% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of English language and literature majors is as follows:

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,823
Black or African American 3,019
Hispanic or Latino 6,088
White 26,641
International Students 659
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,307

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in English Language & Literature. About 1.6% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do English Language & Literature Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that English language and literature students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree made a median starting salary of $26,900 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $23,500 (25th percentile) and $30,500 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to English language and literature.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $69,480 to $76,990 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to English language and literature. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an English Language & Literature Major  ( 69480 to 76990 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some degrees associated with English language and literature may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to English language and literature have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 4.9%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 2.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.1%
Some College Courses 6.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 6.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 45.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 4.6%
Master’s Degree 15.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.4%
Doctoral Degree 13.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online English Language & Literature Programs

In 2019-2020, 1,705 schools offered a English language and literature program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 45 6
Certificate (2-4 Years) 4 0
Associate’s Degree 328 42
Bachelor’s Degree 150 29
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 777 58
Post-Master’s 27 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 188 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 2 1

Is a Degree in English Language & Literature Worth It?

The median salary for a English language and literature grad is $73,090 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 83% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $663,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to English language and literature.

Major Number of Grads
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 559,661
Visual & Performing Arts 155,377
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 34,268
Theology & Religious Vocations 26,872
Philosophy & Religious Studies 20,201

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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