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Become A Language Instructor

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Working As A Language Instructor

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Language 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 A Language 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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Language Instructor Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
French Instructor 3.5 years
German Instructor 3.2 years
Language Teacher 3.0 years
Instructor 2.8 years
ESL Instructor 2.8 years
English Instructor 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Language Instructor
Teacher 14.8%
Instructor 9.5%
Internship 7.1%
Translator 5.4%
Volunteer 4.3%
Tutor 4.0%
Lecturer 2.7%
Top Careers After Language Instructor
Instructor 12.2%
Teacher 11.0%
Translator 5.5%
Internship 5.1%
Tutor 4.2%
Consultant 3.8%
Volunteer 3.8%
Lecturer 3.5%

Do you work as a Language Instructor?

Language Instructor Demographics

Gender

Female

47.4%

Male

36.8%

Unknown

15.7%
Ethnicity

White

52.6%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Asian

13.7%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

8.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

27.2%

French

12.7%

Japanese

8.6%

Arabic

6.8%

German

6.2%

Chinese

6.1%

Italian

5.4%

Russian

5.3%

Mandarin

4.5%

Korean

4.5%

Portuguese

4.5%

Dari

1.5%

Urdu

1.3%

Turkish

1.0%

Hindi

0.9%

Persian

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Thai

0.7%

Cantonese

0.6%

Polish

0.6%
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Language Instructor Education

Schools

Brigham Young University

7.4%

American University

7.4%

New York University

7.1%

Georgetown University

6.9%

University of Phoenix

6.4%

George Mason University

6.3%

University of Washington

5.2%

George Washington University

5.0%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.6%

Arizona State University

4.4%

Georgia State University

4.4%

University of Southern California

4.4%

University of Texas at Austin

4.4%

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

3.9%

Portland State University

3.9%

Gallaudet University

3.9%

Teachers College of Columbia University

3.8%

University of Arizona

3.8%

University of Kansas

3.5%

Michigan State University

3.3%
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Majors

English

15.7%

Linguistics

11.1%

Business

10.0%

Education

8.5%

Elementary Education

5.3%

Political Science

5.1%

Psychology

4.3%

Teaching English As A Second Language

4.3%

Area Studies

4.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.5%

Law

3.3%

History

3.3%

Communication

3.2%

International Relations

3.2%

Global Studies

2.9%

Special Education

2.7%

Economics

2.6%

Educational Leadership

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Accounting

2.1%
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Degrees

Masters

37.5%

Bachelors

32.9%

Other

12.8%

Doctorate

6.5%

Certificate

5.6%

Associate

3.2%

Diploma

1.3%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
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%
$70,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Mission Essential
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Language Instructor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Language Instructor in the United States is $49,355 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 $70,000.

Real Language Instructor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chinese Language Instructor Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA Aug 01, 2014 $177,645
Japanese Language Instructor Language House LLC New York, NY Apr 02, 2011 $104,350
Turkish Language Instructor Hudson Turkish American Cultural Association, Inc. Ridgefield, NJ Feb 15, 2011 $104,350
Arabic Language Instructor The President and Fellows of Middlebury College Monterey, CA Jun 07, 2012 $90,826
Japanese Language Instructor SOKO Gakuen Japanese Language School San Francisco, CA Jun 27, 2015 $88,572
Spanish Language Instructor University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI Jul 01, 2013 $88,176
Japanese Language Instructor Woodside International School Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 01, 2011 $87,654
Chinese Instructor, Custom Language Services The President and Fellows of Middlebury College Monterey, CA Aug 29, 2011 $87,654
Chinese Language Instructor The President and Fellows of Middlebury College Monterey, CA Jun 07, 2012 $84,357
Language Instructor-Arabic The President and Fellows of Middlebury College Monterey, CA Jun 09, 2015 $81,393
Spanish Language Instructor University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI Jul 01, 2013 $80,746
Chinese Language Instructor The President and Fellows of Middlebury College Monterey, CA Jun 13, 2013 $79,995
Japanese Language Instructor SOKO Gakuen Japanese Language School San Francisco, CA Dec 30, 2014 $56,850 -
$101,220
Language Instructor-German and Mandarin Valor Christian Schools Highlands Ranch, CO Jul 01, 2013 $55,400
Lecturer In Korean Language Instruction Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA Oct 13, 2011 $55,000
Lecturer In Korean Language Instruction Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA May 08, 2012 $54,769
English Language Instructor Metropolitan Learning Institute, Inc. NY Nov 15, 2014 $52,500
Japanese Language Instructor Lingua Science Corporation Ann Arbor, MI Sep 10, 2013 $44,000
Instructor of Arabic Language University of Oregon Eugene, OR Jun 16, 2012 $44,000
Instructor of Arabic Language University of Oregon Eugene, OR May 03, 2012 $44,000
Instructor of Modern Languages University of Louisville Louisville, KY Jul 01, 2012 $43,652
French & Japanese Languages Instructor Saluga, LLC Lantana, TX Oct 01, 2012 $43,534
Instructor of Arabic Language University of Oregon Eugene, OR Sep 16, 2012 $43,380

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Top Skills for A Language Instructor

  1. Language
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Curriculum Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Offered complete language instructional guidance to students from diverse professional and educational backgrounds.
  • Maintain good classroom management through setting and maintaining age-appropriate expectations and modifying when necessary to maximize student learning.
  • Preformed administrative duties that included student ability assessments, creation of customized lesson plans, and team based curriculum development.
  • Created and implemented introductory lesson plans for Kindergarten Spanish
  • Developed daily lesson plans incorporating interactive skits to complement grammar lessons.

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Top 10 Best States for Language Instructors

  1. California
  2. Michigan
  3. Connecticut
  4. Rhode Island
  5. New Hampshire
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Delaware
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. New Jersey
  10. Georgia
  • (1,529 jobs)
  • (434 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (286 jobs)
  • (170 jobs)
  • (394 jobs)

Top Language Instructor Employers

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