How much of our knowledge and information comes to us through the written word? For that you can thank an English teacher. Composition, literature, critical thinking and grammatical structures-the essential elements of communication-are instilled in us and nurtured by English teachers at the middle school and secondary levels. In addition, they’re managing the classroom, planning curriculum, tracking student progress and performing all the other duties that teaching entails.
The traditional path toward becoming an English teacher in the public schools requires a bachelor’s degree in education (BSE) and the completion of 24 to 36 hours (or more, in some states) of college courses in English composition and literature.
An increasing number of school systems encourage their English teachers to work toward a master’s degree, but this is not currently a requirement. As an exception to the rule, some private schools do not require their teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but it is preferred.
Student teachers practice teaching for one semester under the supervision of a certified and experienced teacher. They must qualify for a teaching license to ensure that certain standards of excellence are met. Alternative licensure programs offer provisional teaching licenses to bachelor’s degree holders in particular subjects (such as English or creative writing) while they complete education courses outside school hours. Licenses are granted by their respective boards and must be renewed annually.
Various teacher-training programs are accredited by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. While graduation from an accredited program is not mandatory, it certainly makes it easier for teachers to fulfill licensure requirements
English teachers usually instruct students from around age 11 to 18. Some of their common professional duties, in addition to presenting course content, include:
Anyone interested in pursuing a teaching career must be patient, motivated, organized, dependable and able to cope with stress.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 2.15 million people in the U.S. held positions as middle and secondary school teachers in 2008, and job opportunities are expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations. Employment opportunities will vary, however, depending on the locality, subject and grade level.
An English teacher’s salary will vary widely depending on the school’s location and the experience level of the teacher. In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary of teachers in grades K-12 was $49,090.