How to Become an English Teacher in 5 Steps

English teachers instruct students in the essentials of reading, writing and English grammar. Learn the education requirements for this career, as well as the salary potential. Schools offering Teaching - Elementary Reading & Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an English Teacher Do?

Responsibilities may vary depending at which level you choose to teach. 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. You may also teach elective courses such as journalism, creative writing or college preparation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that in 2010 secondary (high school) teachers made an average annual salary of $55,990 (www.bls.gov).

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 (www.nbpts.org). 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 (www.ncte.org). 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 2010, the average annual salary for English professors $67,920.

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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