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What kind of jobs can English Majors Get?


What kind of jobs can I get if I major in English? (Lots) Do I have to major in science to go to medical school? (No) Do actors have to go to a Theater program? (No).

All these sound like conventional wisdom, but now, thanks to my friends at Human Capital Research Corporation, we have some better answers.  The data set they put together is based on The American Community Survey (ACS) of the Census Bureau, a small but statistically significant sample of the US Population.  It asks questions that include occupation and college major (for those who are working, and for those who have a bachelor's degree).  The data below contains over 3 million individual responses to these questions (for people in the labor force between the ages of 25 and 60 with a bachelor's degree).

One the first dashboard (using the tabs across the top), you see two views.  On the blue chart on the left, choose a major (cluster) at the top.  The chart below will show you the professions (also clustered) of people with a bachelor's degree in that area.  Hover over a square for details, including the number and the percentage of the total.  Multiply by about 20 to convert the sample to the total.

One the red chart, choose the profession, and see the majors of the people working in that area.

Most engineers majored in engineering; most nurses in nursing, most teachers in education, and most accountants in business.  But beyond that, you get a rich sense of the wide range of careers open to people with almost any degree.

On the second tab, look at the majors on the left, and see how people are distributed by going across the row. Look for larger, blue bubbles to see clusters: 37% of people with a degree in library science, for instance, work as a librarian; 29% of architecture majors are architects.  The rows total 100%. Unfortunately, the number of professions makes labeling the professions impossible, except in the box that pops up when you hover.

Then, on the third tab, the view is the same, but the columns total 100%.  So you see the majors of people in professions.

On the last two views, the story is not the large bubbles, I think, although the add to understanding; the story is the small bubbles: People from all majors doing all jobs.

And a word of caution, of course: I defaulted the first two views to biology and medicine, and the tendency will be to conclude that you must be a science major to go to medical school.  In fact, this is likely driven by the fact that the vast majority of applicants to medical school major in the sciences.

What else do you see here? What surprised you?  Let me know in the comments below.

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