It is well known many schools have a demand for teachers in the fields of science and mathematics. However, districts are still consistently in need of qualified and enthusiastic English teachers. According to the most recent study conducted by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, aged 16 and older, have a below basic literacy level and cannot perform simple, everyday literacy activities. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 93 million adults function at low literacy levels that inhibit their ability to succeed in college and the workforce. If you have a passion for helping young people achieve their goals, you may be well-suited for a career in teaching English.

Being an English teacher gives you a lot of career options. Although most teachers specifically dedicated to the subject of English work in a high school or college, there are English teaching opportunities at the elementary and middle school levels as well. As an English teacher, you will be responsible for fostering and developing students' verbal and written comprehension skills, as well as instructing students in the areas of grammar, writing, and analyzing works of literature. You will develop lesson plans and work with parents and school administrators when you identify a student with special needs. If you desire to focus more specifically on one aspect of teaching English, such as poetry or American literature, you may want to consider teaching at a college or university, where you would have more opportunity to narrow your class selections.

The path to becoming an English teacher: the step-by-step process

If you want to be an English teacher, you must have a genuine love for words and literature. If you do not have this characteristic, you will have a difficult time balancing your success and stress level. In relation to education and certification, there are several steps you must take in order to become an English teacher. Although there are some differences between states, a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution is required across the board. Whether or not your bachelor's degree is in the field of education will impact your teaching certification process in some states, which will be discussed further later on. However, do not fret, because many states have options for individuals with a bachelor's from a field of study outside of education.

Each state has a specific process when it comes to becoming a teacher. However, these are the general steps you will take:

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. If you have not yet completed this step, you may want to consider going for an education degree if you feel pretty confident about pursuing a career as a teacher. If you are even more certain that you want to teach English, you may want to complete an English degree.

Step 2: Complete a teaching credential program and satisfy your student teaching requirement. Student teaching can take up to 10 weeks. If you completed a bachelor's program that already included all of this, then you can skip this step!

Step 3: Pass the certification exam. Make sure you give yourself ample time to study and get a lot of rest the night before.

Step 4: Decide where you want to work and start applying for jobs. Sometimes it helps just to go to the schools in your area and introduce yourself. Another great way to secure a position is to get in the substitute teaching pool and spend some time as a substitute teacher. Once you build a relationship with the school and its administrators, you will increase your chances of securing full-time employment.

Still trying to decide which grade to teach? Noodle has you covered.

How long does it take to become an English teacher?

If the thought of becoming an English teacher is speaking to your heart, you might be asking -- how long will it take to become an English teacher? The answer to this question somewhat depends on the education you have already completed and what your flexibility is to complete a teaching program.

Typically, it will take four years to obtain a bachelor's degree. After that, most schools offer an accelerated teaching credential program that will take around one year to complete; however, you could potentially be looking at two years if it includes a master's degree. Furthermore, if you are a working student, completing your bachelor's degree, teaching credential, and master's degree could take longer if you are going to school part-time.

English teacher degree requirements

All states require that you pursue education beyond a high school diploma, specifically a minimum of a bachelor's degree, to teach at a public school. Once you complete your bachelor's degree, you will need to move on to your teaching credential. Some credential programs offer a master's teaching credential hybrid program, in which case you will earn your master's degree while becoming certified. However, many choose to go back to school later for a master's degree, after they have secured a teaching job. This is especially true for places that offer pay incentives for possessing a master's degree, as you will receive a pay increase as soon as you complete the graduate program.

Bachelor's degree: If you want to teach English at a K-12 public school in the U.S., you must have a bachelor's degree. Having a B.A. in Education is a common degree for teachers, but a degree in English is also well-suited for teachers who know they are going to pursue teaching English. If you have a non-educational degree, you can still pursue being an English teacher. Many states offer workarounds for prospective teachers with a non-educational background.

Master's degree: A master's degree is typically not required to teach at a K-12 public school. However, in many cases, having your master's degree will allow you to move up to a higher pay bracket. If you finish your master's degree while you already have a job, you will get an automatic raise once you complete the program.

English teacher licensure and certification requirements

To become a teacher, you must acquire a teaching credential, which typically involves completing courses in addition to your bachelor's program and passing an exam. The specific licensure and certification requirements for each teacher vary by state. Noodle goes into more detail on a state-by-state basis in an article about obtaining your teaching certificate. For example, in California, if you want to teach at an elementary school, you will be required to obtain a multiple subject teaching credential. If you'd like to teach at a middle or high school, you must obtain a single subject teaching credential. There are also states that will offer teaching reciprocity if you already have a credential from another state.

Typical English teacher salaries

Your salary range will depend on factors such as years of of experience, level of education, and location. Areas with a lower cost of living are going to have a correspondingly lower salary than those in more expensive areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 there were 15.4 million K-12 teachers with an average salary of $55,055. Glassdoor indicates that high school English teachers have an average salary of $48,749, whereas overall high school teachers earn an average of $46,381.

Be sure to more about Master's in Teaching salary ranges as they vary!

Final thoughts

With the current literacy problem in the U.S., becoming an English teacher is a great way to really make a difference. No matter which grade you choose to teach, all levels are in need of assistance. If you are interested in teaching children at a younger age, you could work at an elementary school and teach an honors reading class. On the other hand, if you want to help those that are struggling, you could specialize in helping children with learning disabilities. If you are more passionate about really digging literature analysis, you may want to consider teaching upper-class English at a high school or even honors English at a middle school. Getting students excited about reading and writing is an invaluable lesson that will without a doubt stick with them the rest of their lives.

Lizzie Perrin

Lizzie is a writer and content marketer, with experience in education, finance, public policy, and leadership. She earned a bachelor's degree in communication from UC Davis and a master's degree in public administration from CSU Bakersfield. Lizzie is also a musician and lives in California with her husband and son.