How to Become an English Teacher
English teachers are trained to equip students with a broad foundation of linguistic knowledge. With the ability to choose between elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary (college) institutions, you can build the career experience of your choice with a little bit of planning. Regardless of the path you choose, as an English teacher, you’ll touch the lives of many students and may foster a love of English they’ll carry forever.
On this page, you will learn what an English teacher does, their salary, the steps to becoming one, the different levels you could teach at, and the degrees that could lead to a career as an educator of English.
What Does an English Teacher Do?
Regardless of the age of their students, English teachers primarily teach grammar, literature, vocabulary, reading, and writing techniques. Your goal as a teacher will be to help students improve and refine their written and oral communication skills in various capacities.
Career Outlook and Salary for English Teachers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), elementary school teachers earn a median salary of $57,980, and the field is expected to grow at a rate of 3% through 2028. High School teachers earn a median salary of $60,320 per year, and can expect to see a 4% growth in the field over the next decade. Finally, postsecondary professors have a median salary of $78,470, and their field is growing at a much faster rate than the average profession with an 11% increase in jobs through 2026.
Steps to Becoming an English Teacher
To become an English teacher, you first must complete the educational requirements and obtain your teaching license in the state in which you plan to work. These requirements are put in place to ensure students receive the best education possible and you are well prepared for a career in teaching.
Earn Your Degree
It should come as no surprise that before you can teach students, you must first complete your own schooling. While exact requirements vary by state, municipality, and type of school (public or private), states usually require English teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in English along with completion of a teaching education program. If you’re interested in teaching at the college level, you’ll likely need a Ph.D. in English. Some institutions, like community colleges, may only require a master’s degree.
Practice in the Field
Teaching education programs typically require student teaching experience, also called practicums or internships. Student teaching experiences are usually built into the curriculum. While student teaching requirements differ by program, you can expect to interact directly with students while being guided and supervised by an experienced instructor. Depending on your program, you may spend anywhere from several hours each semester to 15 hours per week student teaching. In doing so, you’ll put into practice the teaching knowledge you’ve obtained during your degree program.
Obtain Your Teaching License
All states require public school teachers from elementary through high school to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level they teach—although some private schools may not require licensure (BLS, 2019). Often, a state’s teaching license is only valid for the state in which you’ll be teaching, though there are exceptions. Visit Teach.org to determine which licensure or certification is required for your state.
English Teaching Jobs and Job Descriptions
A degree in English Education opens the door to the sort of job you want, whether teaching English at the elementary, middle, high school (secondary), or college (postsecondary) levels.
Degree Programs for English Education
The required degree for your career depends largely on the education level you plan to teach. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education required to teach elementary, middle, and high school, but a master’s degree and often a doctorate degree is required to teach at the postsecondary level.
Resources for Current and Future English Teachers
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