Becoming an English Teacher: Degrees and Certification
To be or not to be…an English teacher.
Without good English-language skills, students can’t succeed in English class, or any of their other classes. If you’re thinking of becoming an English teacher, you’ll find opportunities to teach all kinds of literary genres, including classic literary texts, creative nonfiction, contemporary fiction, film and web-based media. One week you may engage your students in a Shakespearean play and the next you might instruct them on argumentative essay writing.
Like most educators, English teachers work with students from a broad range of cultural backgrounds. This diversity offers a great opportunity to use the language arts to construct, analyze and share knowledge and ideas. Other typical duties may include the following:
- Planning lessons to meet curriculum standards
- Reading books and materials in preparation for class
- Delivering engaging, coherent lectures
- Modifying activities and assignments to meet the learning needs of individual students
- Selecting and integrating appropriate instructional materials for classroom instruction
- Grading tests, essays, reports and other assignments
- Meeting with students, parents and other educators to discuss student progress
With an English teacher job, you may find yourself in one of these settings:
- secondary schools, such as middle and high schools
- public or private schools, including parochial schools
- public or private colleges and universities
What about Compensation?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for English language and literature teachers, postsecondary is $63,730. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Although entry-level salaries may be lower, with greater seniority and by completing advanced education, you will increase your earning potential. Public school teachers who teach core studies such as English enjoy reliable job security. Additionally, comprehensive benefits packages and lengthy summer vacations are important factors to consider when assessing total compensation.
Becoming an English Teacher
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in English but haven’t completed a teaching program, you should see if your state offers a professional development program. These 1-year programs partner universities with secondary schools to allow students to teach firsthand under professional guidance.
Another great option is to earn a master’s degree in teaching, which will immediately improve your earning capacity. Some states require all teachers to earn master’s degrees within a specified period. Check with your state Department of Education to find out the requirements in your area.
Are There Certification Requirements?
All public schools require teachers to be licensed. Although teacher certification requirements vary by state, all states require English teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree with a specific number of subject and education credits. If you choose to become an English teacher at a private school, licensure may not be required.
When you apply for your teaching license, you’ll be given a competency test, such as the Praxis, that covers reading, writing and teaching skills. Additionally, some states require teachers to take continuing education courses to maintain their teaching certificates.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
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