How Do I Become a Creative Writing Teacher?

Explore the career requirements for creative writing teachers. Get the facts about salary, job outlook, degree requirements and licensure to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Creative Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Creative Writing Teacher?

Creative writing teachers guide students in innovative thinking and the formulation of fiction novels, poems, plays, short stories and other original works of literature. This specialty field can be taught by teachers at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels. Instruction can consist of both lectures and small-group workshops, and teachers help train students to analyze the works of professional writers and provide effective feedback for their peers. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, K-12 teachers play supervisory roles, both within the classroom and in other settings, such as the lunchroom or playground. Professors who are teaching creative writing at the college level are also expected to publish research and/or their own literary works, and they may serve as thesis or dissertation advisors for graduate students.

To find out more about a career in this field, including degree requirements, read the table.

Career Titles Secondary School Teachers Postsecondary English Language and Literature Teachers
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Master's degree for teaching at a 2-year school; doctoral degree for many 4-year schools
Education Field of Study Education Creative writing
Licensure/Certification Teaching license required for public school teachers, as well as a registration or certification per state laws None required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)* 10% (for postsecondary English language and literature teachers*
Median Salary (2015) $57,200 (for secondary school teachers, except special education and career/technical education)* $61,990 (for postsecondary English language and literature teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Responsibilities Will I Have as a Creative Writing Teacher?

As a creative writing teacher, you guide students through their growth and development as writers of short stories, screenplays, poetry, prose and novels. As with any teaching job, your responsibilities include overseeing daily classroom activities, creating lesson plans and grading student work. However, as a creative writing teacher, you also encourage students to explore new ideas and to develop their own voices in their writing.

What Education and Training Do I Need?

If you intend on working in higher education, you must at least obtain a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. However, this may only be sufficient if you're teaching at a junior college or part time at a 4-year university. If you're more interested in a tenure-track position at a university, you should get your Ph.D. If you choose to become a creative writing teacher at an elementary or secondary school, you'll likely only need a bachelor's degree plus additional teaching certification that will be specified by state or position. As a creative writing teacher, you should also get as much writing experience as you can, because this will be useful when instructing students through the process.

What Career Opportunities Exist?

Typically, full-time creative writing teachers are employed at the collegiate level, but you may also have opportunities in certain K-12 schools. Creative writing courses may be offered individually as part of a postsecondary English degree program, so you may opt to work full time as a writer and teach one or two standalone classes. However, bachelor's and master's degree programs are also offered through many colleges and universities, opening the door for professorial positions. Additional opportunities to teach creative writing exist through private clinics and seminars.

How Much Could I Expect to Make?

If you become a creative writing teacher at the postsecondary level, you'll likely have a more steady income than if you're just leading workshops and conferences part-time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary English language and literature teachers employed by colleges, universities and professional schools earned an average of $70,590 in 2015; this includes most 4-year school teachers ( Meanwhile, English language and literature teachers at junior colleges, including many 2-year institutions, earned an average of $73,240 at that same time. If you're a professional writer with a master's degree, you may have the opportunity to earn extra money as an adjunct faculty member at a college or university.

Creative writing teachers at the high school level earn less than their university counterparts. As of 2015, the median annual salary for secondary school teachers (except those teaching special education or career/technical education) was $57,200, per the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Creative writing specialists may look for jobs as writers themselves. For instance, they could write novels, memoirs or books of poetry. They may also find jobs writing pieces for newspapers, magazines or radio broadcast. Although no formal education is technically required for a job as a writer, a bachelor's degree can be very helpful. Individuals who want to work in the field of education may find jobs as school principals. It is important to note that, like teachers, school administrators must be licensed, and they must also hold a master's degree and have several years of teaching experience.

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