Could an English Teacher Career and Education Be for You?

english alphabet letters in class
english alphabet letters in class

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?

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.

Take a look at median annual salaries by state below:

English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary

National data

Median Salary: $75,930

Projected job growth: 6.3%

10th Percentile: $39,230

25th Percentile: $51,730

75th Percentile: $99,330

90th Percentile: $132,220

Projected job growth: 6.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $78,170 $62,060 $101,310
Alabama $61,380 $48,330 $97,090
Arkansas $50,990 $23,270 $97,130
Arizona $63,670 $48,390 $97,450
California $124,070 $63,740 N/A
Colorado $62,550 $48,190 $122,840
Connecticut $79,290 $61,380 $122,840
District of Columbia $77,370 $60,670 $127,730
Delaware $77,170 $48,490 $100,130
Florida N/A N/A N/A
Georgia $59,770 $30,720 $95,910
Hawaii $62,140 $30,980 $98,710
Iowa $62,280 $36,940 $122,840
Idaho N/A N/A N/A
Illinois $63,290 $30,700 $103,060
Indiana $63,740 $46,980 $103,890
Kansas $49,740 $23,310 $81,460
Kentucky $63,740 $39,090 $103,600
Louisiana $61,580 $38,160 $99,230
Massachusetts $78,950 $59,440 $133,130
Maryland $77,170 $48,260 $126,460
Maine $76,840 $49,640 $103,890
Michigan $79,050 $48,060 $107,290
Minnesota $77,170 $48,320 $100,360
Missouri $63,740 $37,940 $99,670
Mississippi $60,630 $38,280 $96,670
Montana $58,620 $20,990 $97,090
North Carolina $61,580 $45,370 $98,680
North Dakota $61,580 $39,170 $97,600
Nebraska $61,420 $45,860 $97,090
New Hampshire $77,970 $48,200 $132,720
New Jersey $77,370 $48,680 $155,270
New Mexico $63,660 $38,990 $103,600
Nevada $61,080 $31,010 $97,090
New York $97,840 $47,890 $166,280
Ohio $63,900 $30,600 $123,350
Oklahoma $49,860 $38,130 $81,250
Oregon $80,200 $48,870 $161,140
Pennsylvania $75,730 $48,740 $128,680
Rhode Island $98,410 $61,760 $163,090
South Carolina $61,580 $47,210 $99,230
South Dakota $61,120 $48,190 $78,170
Tennessee $59,730 $39,080 $97,090
Texas $61,500 $18,320 $99,330
Utah $63,740 $38,280 $132,720
Virginia $64,210 $39,880 $103,900
Vermont $80,710 $49,710 $155,380
Washington $63,900 $41,200 $101,180
Wisconsin $63,680 $48,250 $104,210
West Virginia $48,490 $20,020 $77,200
Wyoming $61,230 $38,670 $89,680

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

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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