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Become An ESL Instructor

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Working As An ESL Instructor

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does An ESL Instructor 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.

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How To Become An ESL Instructor

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.

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ESL Instructor Career Paths

ESL Instructor
Program Coordinator Consultant Project Manager
Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Team Leader Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Team Leader Chairperson
Board Member
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Adjunct Professor
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Owner Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Project Manager Director
Founder And Director
6 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Assistant Professor Adjunct Professor
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Case Manager Director Of Admissions
Campus Director
7 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Assistant Professor
Senior Lecturer
7 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Trainer Training Specialist
Vocational Training Instructor
5 Yearsyrs
English As A Second Language Instructor Instructor Lead Teacher
Child Care Director
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Team Leader Assistant Director
School Director
6 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Education Consultant Assistant Principal
Director Of Instruction
7 Yearsyrs
English As A Second Language Instructor Instructor Professor
Associate Dean
11 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Education Consultant
Educational Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Coach Faculty Associate Dean
Academic Dean
10 Yearsyrs
Curriculum Developer Education Consultant Assistant Principal
Curriculum Director
8 Yearsyrs
Social Studies Teacher Education Coordinator Educational Programs Coordinator
Education Program Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Social Studies Teacher Lead Teacher Department Chairperson
Academic Director
7 Yearsyrs
English As A Second Language Instructor Instructor Instruction Assistant Principal
Student Dean
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
French Instructor 3.5 years
Esol Instructor 3.4 years
History Instructor 3.3 years
German Instructor 3.2 years
ESL Instructor 3.0 years
ESL Professor 2.9 years
English Instructor 2.8 years
ESL Teacher 2.8 years
GED Instructor 2.6 years
Writing Instructor 2.5 years
Reading Instructor 2.4 years
ESL Tutor 1.5 years
Top Careers Before ESL Instructor
Teacher 17.9%
Instructor 13.5%
Tutor 5.8%
Internship 4.9%
Volunteer 3.7%
ESL Tutor 2.7%
Lecturer 2.3%
Top Careers After ESL Instructor
Instructor 14.8%
Teacher 12.9%
Tutor 5.1%
ESL Tutor 3.6%
Lecturer 3.4%
Internship 3.2%
Volunteer 3.0%
Consultant 2.3%

Do you work as an ESL Instructor?

Average Yearly Salary
$49,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$72,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
SUNY Orange
Highest Paying City
San Rafael, CA
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
2.8 years
How much does an ESL Instructor make at top companies?
The national average salary for an ESL Instructor in the United States is $49,603 per year or $24 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $72,000.

Real ESL Instructor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
ESL Instructor Business Education In Science New York, NY Jul 13, 2016 $80,621
General Academic and ESL Instructor New York Institute of English and Business New York, NY Mar 28, 2016 $76,943
General Academic and ESL Instructor New York Institute of English and Business New York, NY Sep 30, 2015 $76,943
ESL Instructor Research Foundation of Cuny New York, NY Sep 14, 2011 $68,245
ESL Instructor Research Foundation of Cuny New York, NY Oct 20, 2016 $67,828
ESL Instructor Research Foundation of Cuny New York, NY Sep 09, 2016 $66,784
Esl/Family Literacy Instructor Surry Community College Dobson, NC May 30, 2012 $65,136
ESL Instructor Research Foundation of Cuny New York, NY Sep 14, 2011 $64,697
ESL Instructor Angeles College Industry, CA Nov 30, 2016 $61,443
ESL Instructor Good Clothing, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 21, 2016 $60,000
ESL Instructor California College of Communications Santa Clara, CA Sep 20, 2016 $57,100
ESL Instructors Spring International Language Center, Inc. Fayetteville, AR Jan 09, 2016 $55,786
ESL Instructor (Educational Teacher) Fortuna Education, LLC DBA Career College of Calif Santa Ana, CA Feb 02, 2015 $55,432
ESL Instructor Young's Adult Learning Center Inc. Palisades Park, NJ Sep 08, 2015 $48,377
ESL Instructor The Waldorf School of Garden City Garden City, NY Aug 26, 2015 $48,225
Instructor & Counselor for ESL Students ACI Institute Alhambra, CA Oct 01, 2012 $47,479
ESL Instructor Rosemead College of English Rosemead, CA Oct 01, 2010 $47,271
ESL Instructor California College of Communications Santa Clara, CA Sep 23, 2014 $47,124
ESL Instructior McMurry University Abilene, TX Aug 15, 2016 $46,874
ESL Instructor Global Mission Theological School Parkesburg, PA Dec 04, 2014 $46,800
ESL Instructor Chinatown Manpower Project, Inc. New York, NY Sep 23, 2012 $40,133
ESL Instructor Discovery NYC, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $40,091
ESL Instructor Vision Career Consultants USA Inc. Edison, NJ Mar 01, 2012 $40,000
ESL Instructor Ohio University Athens, OH Jun 30, 2016 $39,142
Chinese Coordinator and ESL Instructor Linden Hall Lititz, PA Sep 06, 2014 $39,000
Chinese Coordinator and ESL Instructor Linden Hall Lititz, PA Sep 14, 2014 $39,000

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Top Skills for An ESL Instructor

  1. Language
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Combined basic studies with real-life interactions involving language use in different situations.
  • Provide classroom management, organization, instruction, and supervision for Auburn Global students in university classroom settings.
  • Implemented lesson plans and utilized supplemental materials.
  • Proposed and assisted with articulation and curriculum development and review.
  • Focused on advanced grammar structures and expository writing while developing oral and aural skills.

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Top 10 Best States for ESL Instructors

  1. California
  2. Alaska
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Oregon
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Connecticut
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Wyoming
  9. New York
  10. New Jersey
  • (883 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (155 jobs)
  • (48 jobs)
  • (74 jobs)
  • (148 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (266 jobs)
  • (191 jobs)

ESL Instructor Demographics

Gender

Female

55.5%

Male

29.7%

Unknown

14.8%
Ethnicity

White

56.9%

Hispanic or Latino

18.2%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

9.6%

Unknown

4.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.7%

French

12.7%

Japanese

5.0%

Chinese

4.8%

German

4.6%

Italian

4.6%

Russian

4.4%

Mandarin

4.2%

Portuguese

4.0%

Arabic

3.9%

Korean

3.5%

Turkish

1.4%

Hindi

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Thai

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Polish

0.6%

Hebrew

0.5%

Urdu

0.5%
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ESL Instructor Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

7.7%

New York University

7.5%

University of Houston

6.2%

Teachers College of Columbia University

6.1%

Georgia State University

5.5%

University of California - Los Angeles

5.2%

Temple University

4.9%

Grand Canyon University

4.9%

Arizona State University

4.7%

Walden University

4.7%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.7%

San Francisco State University

4.6%

Ohio State University

4.6%

San Diego State University

4.6%

University of Texas at Austin

4.6%

Hunter College of the City University of New York

4.3%

San Jose State University

4.0%

University of Pennsylvania

4.0%

George Mason University

3.7%

University of Washington

3.7%
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Majors

English

16.1%

Education

12.2%

Linguistics

10.9%

Elementary Education

8.8%

Teaching English As A Second Language

8.4%

Business

6.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

4.8%

Psychology

4.0%

Educational Leadership

3.5%

Writing

2.8%

Communication

2.7%

History

2.6%

Political Science

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.4%

Area Studies

2.2%

Fine Arts

2.1%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.0%

Special Education

1.9%

Global Studies

1.7%

Sociology

1.7%
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Degrees

Masters

44.8%

Bachelors

29.8%

Other

11.2%

Certificate

6.1%

Doctorate

4.8%

Associate

2.3%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.2%
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