How Do I Become a High School English Language Arts Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a high school English language arts teacher. Learn about education requirements, certification, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a High School English Language Arts Teacher?

High school English language arts teachers help students develop their reading, writing, and analytical skills. They may focus on various types of literature or poetry and could also work to prepare students for standardized tests. Like all teachers, they create lesson plans as well as assessments designed to measure how well students are understanding course content. They must also meet with parents and develop classroom rules to ensure a safe learning environment for all students. Those interested in this career often need to earn a bachelor's degree in English and complete a teacher training program, as well as obtain certification or licensure based on state requirements. See the table below for information about education requirements and salary expectations for this job.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study English
Training Required Internship
Licensure Required in all 50 states for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%* (for all high school teachers)
Median Salary (May 2015) $57,200* (for all high school teachers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn a Degree in English Language Arts?

Many states require public school teachers to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher training program, though some may mandate master's level education. You usually need to earn a degree in subject you wish to teach, and many schools offer auxiliary teaching education within a bachelor's or master's degree program in English. If you already have an English degree, you can enroll in a supplemental certificate program that teaches you how to educate high school students.

In addition to didactic instruction, most educational programs give you the opportunity to develop practical skills within a teaching environment through an internship. In a bachelor's program, you may have additional admission requirements through the school to participate in these teaching exercises. Master's degree programs may require that you obtain state licensure prior to enrollment or before you engage in field work.

Do I Need to Obtain State Licensure or Certification?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), every state requires that a high school teacher be licensed, though regulations regarding licensure vary (www.bls.gov). Some states have licensure or certification levels based on the degree you hold, the grade level or the types of students you teach. You should check with your state school board to ensure that your education adequately meets the requirements for teaching English language arts to high school students.

How Much Can I Earn?

Though the BLS does not differentiate salaries based on subject, it did state that the median annual income of all secondary school teachers (excluding special and career/technical education teachers) was $57,200 as of May 2015. However, the location of a school can make a difference in a high school language arts teacher's salary. BLS statistics from May of 2015 showed that the highest paying states for secondary teachers were Alaska, New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey, with annual mean wages ranging from $74,070 to $80,550.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You could also pursue a career in elementary education, though it's likely that you will have to teach multiple subjects beyond language arts. If you pursue a master's degree, you could teach language arts in higher education, like at a community college or university. If you're more interested in designing curriculum, you could also pursue a master's degree to become an instructional coordinator. These professionals develop instructional materials and work with schools to implement them.

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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