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How to Become an English Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to become an english teacher

Choosing a career as an English teacher is a perfect career move for those interested in English literature or language. Especially those pursuing this interest as a profession to shape future minds! These professionals instruct students in language, teaching native and non-native speakers.

A bachelor’s degree in English provides the necessary academic, instructional, and communication skills that all English teachers have. This article delves into how to become an English teacher, providing the information you need to enter this education field.

Let’s get started!

What Is An English Teacher

An English teacher has an exceptional understanding of grammar, sentence structure, pronunciation, literature, and vocabulary. The job entails teaching creative compositions like poetry, prose, short stories, and narratives. It also includes imparting technical writing skills such as reports, essays, journals, and news articles.

An English teacher develops a student’s written and oral communication skills. They plan lessons according to their school’s approved curriculum and support effective student learning methods to meet state standards.

How to Become an English Teacher-The Skills

Traditional skills that universities, schools, and colleges look for when hiring an English teacher include:

Written, Verbal, & Technical Command of the English Language

  • Grasp of the English language, pronounce words correctly and use correct grammar.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills. This requirement is vital primarily because of the nature of the subject. Communication allows teachers to deliver lectures effectively, create assignments, and give feedback.
  • Excellent vocabulary and the ability to use new words in various situations to allow their students to follow their lead.

Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving Ability

English teacher jobs involve analyzing literature, essays, and other works with students. English teachers should use their problem-solving skills to solve such challenges from student to student, assisting them in the best learning outcomes.

Flexibility, Patience, & Creativity

Since students respond to lessons differently, English teachers should be flexible. Flexibility allows them to accommodate all learners to highlight the needs and interests of their students. Patience is necessary as it allows for a focused and calm classroom. And creativity is essential for exciting and engaging lessons.

How To Become An English Teacher

Those looking to become English teachers must meet the educational requirements for this position, get the necessary work experience, and pass the certification exam.

Let’s take a closer look at how to become an English teacher:

Step 1: Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in English or Education from an accredited institution is the minimum academic requirement in becoming an English teacher.

Bachelor’s Degree in English with Teaching Specialization

Students complete general education courses for about two years to satisfy the academic prerequisites before applying to English education programs.

Most education degrees also have teacher-training programs as a crucial part of their coursework. These programs typically focus on teaching English Language Arts, along with a variety of skills such as the following:

  • English teaching strategies
  • Classroom management
  • Students’ progress assessment techniques
  • Differentiated instruction strategies for all kinds of student learning

Bachelor’s Degree in Education with an English Specialization

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Step 2: Earn Teacher Certification & Pass a Teaching Exam

Students who complete their education and student teaching are eligible to take their state certification exams. Certification exams evaluate academic and professional skills. The testing requirements vary from state to state, but the primary questions revolve around the following topics:

  • Oral Communication
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Literature
  • Media Literacy

Several states also require a criminal background check. A few states offer provisional teacher certification for those who do not have state certification. This exception is for those in the process of an alternative teacher preparation course or master’s degree.

Several states also have reciprocity agreements. These recognize teaching certifications other states issue. However, this recognition may be provisional or permanent. This allowance gives professionals enough time to apply for teaching positions and work in their new state for a couple of years until they get their new certification.

There are two primary teaching exams: NES and PRAXIS.


The PRAXIS exam has two parts: PRAXIS I and PRAXIS II.

PRAXIS I is a core exam covering three areas: mathematics, writing, and reading.

The PRAXIS II exam, in contrast, is subject-based and is further divided into two major sections. A subject assessment exam determines an applicant’s knowledge in their particular specialization, such as English. Then, The Principles Of Learning. It evaluates proficiency concerning age or level, dividing them into categories, including:

  • Early childhood education
  • Kindergarten to sixth grade
  • Fifth grade to ninth grade
  • Grades 7 to 12

NES Exam

NES is a comprehensive exam determining knowledge about the subject matter and general teaching. States conduct the NES exam, and each state decides what to include. The most suitable method to prepare for this assessment is to study material for the state you intend to teach in.

Step 3: Undergo Background Checks

Aspirants who take and pass all the necessary exams must submit to and pass any required background checks for new jobs.

Several school districts require background checks. In some cases, you can reach out to a local law enforcement agency to have them completed. In contrast, you may have to go through a particular agency’s database. The best approach is to contact the school district to know their requirements and go through with all they require.

Step 4: Prepare Your Resume And Start Applying

A well-organized, professional, and comprehensive resume emphasizes:

  • Academic qualifications
  • Achievements
  • Certifications
  • Practical experience
  • Applicable skills

Applying for education jobs that attract your attention. Emphasize how you believe you are the right fit and prove your capability for a teaching position in an interview. Teaching applications commonly ask for supporting documents, as follows:

  • Letters of reference
  • Application for employment
  • Application fee for the particular background checks
  • Transcripts from all attended schools. Although you can send in unofficial transcripts with the application, official transcripts are generally needed later.

How to Become an English Teacher – Educational Requirements

The primary requirement for an English teacher at the elementary level is a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. At the secondary level, a bachelor’s degree in secondary education specializing in English. Some can also choose another standard route, which includes a Bachelor’s degree in English with a state-approved teacher preparation program.

To teach English in colleges or universities, you should have a post-baccalaureate degree in English. Maybe a master’s or a doctorate.

English Teacher Degrees

The necessary degree for English teachers depends on the education level they intend to teach. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum academic requirement for teaching high school, middle, and elementary students. However, a master’s degree, usually a doctorate, is necessary to teach at the post-secondary level.

Degree Requirements for English Teachers

Although a bachelor’s degree is the first educational requirement for becoming an English teacher, additional education may be required. Hence, there are different degree requirements for English teachers, including:

Bachelor’s Degree

Those who want to learn how to become an English teacher can either get a degree in English or choose a general education plan. For instance, they might opt for a Bachelor of Science in Education and major in elementary education.

An elementary education degree includes courses such as diversity and inclusion, classroom management strategies, instructional techniques, etc. Students generally complete the student teaching requirements in their final year in such programs.

A bachelor’s degree takes four years unless the program is accelerated or part-time. Pursuing a career as a high school teacher can benefit from a minor in a relevant subject. Some institutes also offer a major in teaching secondary English.

Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree in English or Education provides you with a competitive advantage. Graduate students can choose from concentrations such as a master’s degree in education, teaching, or English.

A master’s program is generally two years long, with the exception of accelerated degrees, transferred credits, and full- or part-time options. This degree level offers courses in critical theory, literature, creative writing, rhetoric, linguistics, and technical writing.

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A Doctorate paves the way for career opportunities at the post-secondary level. These degrees take about four years to complete; Students can choose between the two different degrees pertinent to teaching:

  • Ph.D. In Education
  • Ed.D.

Online Education Degrees

Online degrees are the best option for people juggling their personal and professional lives. They have gained popularity, especially in the post-Covid world. Distance learning provides high-quality education comparable to on-campus counterparts. They offer extensive flexibility, as students can take classes and submit assignments conveniently.

Career Paths For English Teachers

English teachers have two predominant career trajectories:

  • They can continue teaching English and upgrade from a lower teaching level to a higher one.
  • They can leave teaching for an administrative position.

For instance, a middle school English teacher can upgrade to a high school teaching position. In contrast, high school English teachers can aim for post-secondary jobs. They can also pursue the second option and pursue administrative functions, such as counselors and principals.

Salary and Job Outlook For English Teachers

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics paints an outstanding picture for those pursuing jobs in education. Let’s look at the median annual wage, average career growth, and employment change for all teachers. These statistics are generally the same for English teachers and teachers of other subjects:

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

  • Median Annual Salary: $61,350 per year in 2021
  • Projected Career Growth: 7%, As fast as average
  • Employment Change Between 2020 and 2030:111,500
  • Number of Jobs: 1,492,400
  • Typical Entry-Level Education Requirement: Bachelor’s degree

Middle School Teachers

  • Median Annual Salary: $61,320 per year in 2021
  • Projected Career Growth: 7%, as fast as the average across all professions
  • Employment Change Between 2020 and 2030: 44,800
  • Number of Jobs: 598,500
  • Typical Entry-Level Education Requirement: Bachelor’s degree

Middle-school English teachers’ positions are in high demand in Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Maine. The highest paying states include Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, California, and Connecticut.

High School Teachers

  • Median Annual Salary: $61,820 per year in 2021
  • Projected Career Growth: 8%, As fast as average
  • Employment Change Between 2020 and 2030: 78,200
  • Number of Jobs: 998,800
  • Typical Entry-Level Education Requirement: Bachelor’s degree

High school English teachers usually earn more than middle and elementary school teachers. The highest paying states in the USA for these professionals are Maine, Connecticut, New York, Alaska, and California. The states with increased demand for high school English teachers are Ohio, Missouri, Connecticut, Maine, and Arkansas.

Post-secondary Teachers

  • Median Annual Salary: $79,640 per year in 2021
  • Projected Career Growth: 12%, considerably faster than average
  • Employment Change Between 2020 and 2030: 156,700
  • Number of Jobs: 1,276,900
  • Typical Entry-Level Education Requirement: Master’s degree

Post-secondary English teachers in universities earn the highest amount of money. The highest paying states for these professionals include New York, Rhode Island, Washington, California, and New Jersey. States with surplus employment positions for post-secondary English teachers are New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Job Responsibilities Of An English Teacher

English teachers help students become fluent, competent, and confident English language users. They specialize in coaching a particular grade level, helping native English speakers understand the language, and teaching ESL students.

Typical responsibilities of an English teacher vary depending upon the class they teach but generally include the following:

Lesson Planning & Assessment

English teachers develop specialized lessons following their school’s curriculum, students’ needs, and state learning guidelines. They utilize instructional strategies to assist students in meeting their required learning outcomes.

English teachers are responsible for developing assessment tools, such as speech topics, essay questions, and comprehension examinations. They also grade and examine the assessments to provide feedback to improve students’ understanding of the English language.

Encouraging And Assisting Students In Written & Spoken English

English teachers help their students in technical and creative writing. They encourage and help their students to communicate fluently. Teachers answer questions and encourage students to deliver speeches in front of their classmates to improve their English speaking ability. English teachers also provide students with ways to remember how the English language works with interactive lessons in spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and other relevant topics.

Tutoring Students

Some English teachers offer additional tutoring to students who require it to assist them in keeping up with their peers either in classrooms or in exam preparation.

Hosting Discussions About English Literary Pieces

English teachers often hold conversations and interactive sessions. They may be about writers and literature to help advance students’ analytical and comprehension skills.

Final Thoughts on How to Become an English Teacher

You can become an English teacher if you love literature, English, and creative learning. This career is promising, as BLS predicts healthy employment and job growth for each teaching level.

Universities and colleges offer online degree programs in English, and Education degrees specializing in English. These programs are perfect working, nontraditional students. If you want an online degree, head to to find the right program for you!

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How to Become an English Teacher-The FAQs

Which certification is necessary to become an English teacher?

Teachers working in K-12 public schools should possess subject area endorsements in English literature and language and state certification. However, several states offer alternative certification paths for those with a bachelor’s degree that does not entail teaching coursework or are simply switching tracks.

Which career opportunities are available for English teachers?

Public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. With the growing popularity of the English language, there is considerable demand for English teachers overseas. English teachers can also work in the private sector, coaching and tutoring English language learners for multinational companies and corporations.

Which certifications help English teachers advance their careers?

Besides specialized degree programs, English teachers can attain certifications in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL or ESL). This certification qualifies English teachers for a TESOL/ESL subject endorsement on the teaching license in many states. Some other standard certifications include advanced training in teaching business English, creative writing, and communication.

How Long Does It Take To Become An English Teacher?

Becoming an English teacher through an education degree takes four to five years. Undergraduate education degree programs generally include all the student teaching hours required to qualify for initial licensure in most states.

Majoring in English in place of education can take between five to six years. This timeline includes the four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, one year to complete a teacher training program, and one year for supervised classroom time. The last year is only if necessary to attain teaching certification in your state.