How to Become an English Teacher in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an English teacher. Learn about education and licensure requirements, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching - Elementary Reading & Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

As an elementary school English teacher, you'll teach reading, writing and grammar. In a middle school and high school, you'll help students develop their writing style and learn more about grammar and vocabulary. As a high school teacher, you'll primarily focus on preparing students for college, honing writing skills and recognizing themes in literature. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as an English teacher is right for you.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Middle School Teachers High School Teachers
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Licensure Required in all states Required in all states Required in all states
Job Growth (2012-2022) 12% (for all kindergarten and elementary teachers)* 12% (for all middle school teachers)* 6% (for all high school teachers)*
Median Salary (2014) $54,120 (for all elementary teachers)* $54,940 (for all middle school teachers)* $56,310 (for all high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Go to College

According to the BLS, most states require secondary teachers, including English teachers, to obtain a bachelor's degree. There are two primary degree options to become an English teacher - a Bachelor of Science in Elementary or Secondary Education with an English concentration, or a Bachelor of Arts in English with an education concentration. A master's degree is required by some states and, in some instances, having a master's degree can help you to meet education requirements if you have a bachelor's degree in only English or literature. With any degree program, you'll study education basics and complete a teaching practicum inside a classroom.

Step 2: Get Licensure

The BLS states that to teach in any state you need state-approved teaching credentials. This only applies to teaching in a public school. Most states require you to complete a bachelor's degree and a student teaching internship before passing a written exam. Other states may require a master's degree or observation of you teaching students.

Step 3: Seek Additional Credentials

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) provides voluntary national teaching certifications ( There are two certification exams for English teachers; one is for early childhood education and the other is for adolescent education. Certification may allow you to prove your skills and knowledge in English.

Step 4: Join a Professional Organizations

By joining a professional organization, such as the National Council of Teachers of English, you can foster your professional growth ( You'll be connected to other English teachers across the nation through online conversations and find leads to advanced educational opportunities. You'll also gain knowledge of popular trends, books and grants for English teachers.

Step 5: Consider Advancing Your Education

If you're interested in breaking into the college professor field, you'll need a doctorate degree in English or a related subject. If you're interested in becoming an English professor who teaches American literature courses, you may focus on a doctorate degree in American writers and literature. Ph.D. programs tend to focus on research, writing and teaching of literature.

You can begin your career as an assistant professor working your way towards a tenure-track associate professorship. To become a full-time professor with a university, you'll need to work your way up and earn tenure with that college. The BLS stated, as of May 2014, the average annual salary for English professors $68,390.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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