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English Language Teacher Careers

Did you know, that English is the third most widely spoken language in the world, following behind Chinese and Spanish? As an English language teacher, you will help students learn the various aspects of the language. You will perform a variety of tasks to ensure that students learn how to properly speak, write, and read English. You will typically work in schools, education centers, and other similar organizations.

Some of the duties and responsibilities that you fulfill in this role include planning and preparing teaching materials; delivering English-language lessons; assessing and checking students' work and tests; organizing and running various specialist courses; and helping students improve their listening, speaking, and reading skills through individual or group sessions. Essential qualities required to be successful in this position include effective communication, patience, motivational skills, and leadership.

To qualify for this position, you need at least a bachelor's degree in education with specialization in English-language related courses. However, employers usually prefer Master's degree holders. The average hourly pay for this position is $27.92, which amounts to more than $53,000 annually.

What Does an English Language Teacher Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and career and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Duties

Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Work with students who are taking classes to improve their knowledge or career skills
  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving a series of courses
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • Advise students about which classes to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field
  • Conduct research and experiments to advance knowledge in their field
  • Supervise graduate students who are working toward doctoral degrees
  • Publish original research and analysis in books and academic journals
  • Serve on academic and administrative committees that review and recommend policies, make budget decisions, or advise on hiring and promotions within their department

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. Some teach academic subjects, such as English or philosophy. Others focus on career-related subjects, such as law, nursing, or culinary arts.

At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments that specialize in a subject, such as history, science, business, or music. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar in a very specific area of mathematics.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary with their positions in a university or college. In large colleges or universities, they may spend their time teaching, conducting research or experiments, applying for grants to fund their research, or supervising graduate teaching assistants who are teaching classes.

Postsecondary teachers who work in small colleges and universities or in community colleges often spend more time teaching classes and working with students. They may spend some time conducting research, but they do not have as much time to devote to it.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (a professor who cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to spend more time on their research. They also may be expected to serve on more college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with just a few students, or laboratories where students practice the subject matter. They work with an increasingly varied student population as more part-time, older, and culturally diverse students are going to postsecondary schools.

Professors need to keep up with developments in their field by reading scholarly articles, talking with colleagues, and participating in professional conferences. A tenured professor must do original research, such as experiments, document analysis, or critical reviews, and publish their findings.

Some postsecondary teachers work for online universities or teach online classes. They use websites to present lessons and information, to assign and accept students’ work, and to participate in course discussions. Online professors communicate with students by email and by phone and might never meet their students in person.

How To Become an English Language Teacher

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Most commonly, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. In career and technical schools, work experience may be important for getting a postsecondary teaching job.

Education

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Some schools may hire those with a master’s degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Doctoral programs generally take multiple years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree program. They spend time completing a master’s degree and then writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the student’s field of study. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges or career and technical schools also may hire those with a master’s degree. However, in some fields, there are more applicants than available positions. In these situations, institutions can be more selective, and they frequently choose applicants who have a Ph.D. over those with a master’s degree.

Postsecondary teachers who teach career and technical education courses, such as culinary arts or cosmetology, may not be required to have graduate-level education. At a minimum they must hold the degree of the program in which they are teaching. For example, the teacher must hold an associate’s degree if they teach a program that is at the associate’s degree level. In addition, work experience or certification may be just as important as education for getting a postsecondary teaching job at a career or technical school.

Other Experience

Some institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience, but this is not a requirement for all fields or for all employers.

In health specialties, art, or education fields, hands-on work experience in the industry can be important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of expertise.

In fields such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. These short-term jobs, sometimes called “post-docs,” usually involve working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes in the institution in which they are enrolled.

Some postsecondary teachers, especially adjunct professors, have another job in addition to teaching.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or they may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.

Advancement

A major goal for postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree is attaining a tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. It can take up to 7 years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Tenure and tenure track positions are declining as institutions are relying more heavily on part-time faculty.

Some tenured professors advance to administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To challenge established theories and beliefs, conduct original research, and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need good critical-thinking skills.

Interpersonal skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be able to work well with others and must have good communication skills to serve on committees and give lectures.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers need to be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and teach students who have little or no experience with the subject.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good communication skills to give lectures.

Writing skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be skilled writers to publish original research and analysis.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Average Salary
$50,658
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
35,783
Job Openings

English Language Teacher Career Paths

Top Careers Before English Language Teacher

Teacher
27.0 %

Top Careers After English Language Teacher

Teacher
24.2 %

English Language Teacher Jobs You Might Like

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for an English Language Teacher

English Language Teachers in America make an average salary of $50,658 per year or $24 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $73,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $34,000 per year.
Average Salary
$50,658
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Washington, DC
Salary Range73k - 117k$93k$92,748
Berkeley, CA
Salary Range66k - 103k$83k$82,997
New Haven, CT
Salary Range63k - 102k$80k$80,284
Boston, MA
Salary Range54k - 88k$69k$69,428
New Brunswick, NJ
Salary Range54k - 87k$69k$69,029
New York, NY
Salary Range52k - 84k$66k$66,377
$36k
$117k

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English Language Teacher Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an English Language Teacher. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write an English Language Teacher Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless English Language Teacher resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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English Language Teacher Demographics

Gender

female

60.2 %

male

34.0 %

unknown

5.8 %

Ethnicity

White

71.2 %

Asian

9.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

33.0 %

French

12.4 %

Japanese

8.9 %
See More Demographics

English Language Teacher Education

Majors

English
24.9 %

Degrees

Bachelors

66.1 %

Masters

14.9 %

Certificate

9.7 %

Top Colleges for English Language Teachers

1. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

6. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840
See More Education Info

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Top Skills For an English Language Teacher

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 23.2% of english language teachers listed english-language on their resume, but soft skills such as critical-thinking skills and interpersonal skills are important as well.

Best States For an English Language Teacher

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an english language teacher. The best states for people in this position are California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. English language teachers make the most in California with an average salary of $82,107. Whereas in Connecticut and Rhode Island, they would average $79,916 and $75,793, respectively. While english language teachers would only make an average of $74,469 in Delaware, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total English Language Teacher Jobs:
563
Highest 10% Earn:
$125,000
Location Quotient:
1.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total English Language Teacher Jobs:
499
Highest 10% Earn:
$112,000
Location Quotient:
2.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Delaware

Total English Language Teacher Jobs:
234
Highest 10% Earn:
$116,000
Location Quotient:
1.45
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top English Language Teacher Employers

1. Denver County 1
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$43,084
English Language Teachers Hired: 
63+
2. Aeon
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$49,756
English Language Teachers Hired: 
16+
3. ESL Federal Credit Union
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$51,045
English Language Teachers Hired: 
13+
4. American School
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$52,326
English Language Teachers Hired: 
13+
5. Peace Corps
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$45,407
English Language Teachers Hired: 
12+
6. Education First Credit Union
3.4
Avg. Salary: 
$38,810
English Language Teachers Hired: 
10+

English Language Teacher Videos

Updated October 2, 2020