How Can I Become an English Lit Teacher?

Research what it takes to become an English literature teacher. Learn about degree requirements, licensure, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an English Lit Teacher?

English literature teachers educate students in the field of English and literary studies. They may provide instruction for middle school, high school or college students. English teachers plan lessons, give lectures, work with students in small-group settings and grade essays and other assignments. Depending on the level at which they are teaching, English teachers may also be responsible for preparing students for standardized tests in English and language arts. Additionally, they may provide outside support for students; for instance, an English teacher may sponsor a Speech and Debate club, write college or graduate school recommendation letters, or coach a sports team.

Take a look at the following table to learn what kind of education, certification or licensing might be required, as well as the career outlook for the field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree may be required
Education Field of Study Education, literature, English
Key Skills Speaking, leadership, interpersonal, creativity
Licensure/Certification Licensure or certification is required for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% (for all postsecondary English language and literature teachers)
6% (for all high school teachers)
6% (for all middle school teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $61,990 (for all postsecondary English language and literature teachers)
$57,200 (for all high school teachers)
$55,860 (for all middle school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Duties Be as an English Lit Teacher?

As an English literature teacher, you'll be responsible for educating students on short stories, novels, poems and plays created in the English language. Additionally, you may focus on the cultural and historical backgrounds of authors to provide students with a better grasp of the pieces they read. Your job also entails initiating and facilitating classroom discussion with the goal of developing students' critical thinking, analysis and interpretation skills. You'll most likely be involved with curriculum development and determining the most effective methods for teaching English literature.

What Education Will I Need?

If you're interested in becoming an English literature teacher, you'll need to complete at least a bachelor's degree in English, English literature or education. Some positions require you to complete a master's degree as well, but you may be allowed to work toward your graduate degree part-time while you teach. Additionally, if you'd like to teach in a public school setting, you must obtain a certification or license as required by your state. However, if you're more interested in teaching at a private institution, you may be able to get a job after earning your degree. To teach at a college or university, you'll need at least a master's degree, but to land a tenured position, you'll likely need a Ph.D.

Search for Jobs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that postsecondary English language and literature teachers held approximately 75,730 jobs as of May 2015. The BLS estimated that postsecondary English language and literature teachers would see 10% job growth from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Many of these opportunities were available in junior colleges, 4-year colleges and universities and trade schools, so you could begin looking at these places for employment openings. High school teachers held 962,820 jobs in 2015, and middle school teachers held 632,760 jobs. Job growth for both high school and middle school teachers is expected to be 6% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.

Additionally, you may choose to join the National Education Association (NEA) while you're still a student. By joining, you receive professional support of 3.2 million members and access to educator tools and resources to help you better prepare for your career (www.nea.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Teaching jobs are available in areas other than English literature. For instance, teachers may find jobs teaching reading, math and/or science to kindergarten or elementary school students. These teachers help students develop basic language, communication and problem-solving skills. They must also be able to manage a classroom full of young children, and they may also communicate closely with parents about a child's development. Like English literature teachers, elementary school teachers need a bachelor's degree and a teaching license. Another option is a job as a school principal or administrator. Principals are responsible for school operations management and teacher oversight. It is important to note that a master's degree in educational administration, as well as previous teaching experience, is usually required for a job as a principal.

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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  • University of Pennsylvania

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