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Become A Language Teacher

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Working As A Language Teacher

  • 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 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.

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How To Become A 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.

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Average Length of Employment
Certified Teacher 4.9 years
Bilingual Teacher 4.6 years
French Teacher 4.1 years
Teacher 3.9 years
Spanish Teacher 3.7 years
Arabic Teacher 3.5 years
Language Teacher 3.0 years
ESL Teacher 2.8 years
Literacy Teacher 2.3 years
Chinese Teacher 2.2 years
Top Careers Before Language Teacher
Teacher 25.3%
Internship 6.5%
Volunteer 5.1%
Instructor 4.1%
Translator 3.8%
Tutor 3.5%
Assistant 2.8%
Top Careers After Language Teacher
Teacher 21.6%
Tutor 5.6%
Instructor 5.0%
Volunteer 4.6%
Internship 4.3%
Translator 3.8%
Cashier 2.9%

Do you work as a Language Teacher?

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%
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.0 years
How much does a Language Teacher make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Language Teacher in the United States is $49,396 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 Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Teacher of Chinese Language Chinese Language School of Connecticut Riverside, CT Jan 09, 2016 $93,915
Teacher of Chinese Language Chinese Language School of Connecticut Riverside, CT Aug 29, 2016 $93,915
Teacher of Japanese Language KEIO Academy of New York NY Sep 10, 2015 $90,000
Japanese Language Teacher KEIO Academy of New York NY Apr 01, 2015 $90,000
Chinese Language Teacher Genius Academy International, Inc. Riverside, CA Jul 27, 2015 $85,660
Spanish Language Teacher Napa Valley Unified School District Napa, CA Sep 12, 2015 $84,659
Spanish Language Teacher Napa Valley Unified School District Napa, CA Jul 01, 2015 $84,659
Dual Language Immersion Teacher Thomas Edison Charter Academy San Francisco, CA Aug 10, 2015 $82,651
Japanese Language Teacher SOKO Gakuen Japanese Language School San Francisco, CA Aug 19, 2015 $80,350
Teacher of Japanese Language KEIO Academy of New York NY Sep 04, 2015 $80,000
Hebrew Language Teacher Jewish Community High School of The Bay San Francisco, CA Jun 30, 2016 $75,970
Speech and Language Disability Teacher Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Norwalk, CA Dec 21, 2015 $73,237
Japanese Language Teacher SOKO Gakuen Japanese Language School San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2015 $73,045
Language Teacher The Cheshire Academy Cheshire, CT Aug 26, 2015 $53,100
Dual Language Teacher Deming Public Schools Deming, NM Sep 14, 2015 $52,400
Dual Language Teacher Deming Public Schools Deming, NM Mar 08, 2016 $52,400
Turkish Language Teacher Hampden Charter School of Science Chicopee, MA Sep 15, 2015 $52,175
Chinese Language Teacher Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, Inc. Princeton, NJ Jan 09, 2016 $52,050
Teacher In Greek Language and Culture Saint Katherine Nursery and Pre-School Falls Church, VA Sep 25, 2016 $52,050
Chinese Language Teacher Saint Ann's School New York, NY Sep 19, 2015 $52,000
Spanish Language Teacher Newport News Public Schools Newport News, VA Feb 01, 2015 $44,023
Bilingual Language Teacher Royal Live Oaks Academy of The Arts and Sciences Charter School Hardeeville, SC Jul 01, 2015 $44,000
Chinese Language Teacher Fort Bend Talent Academy Inc. Sugar Land, TX Feb 09, 2016 $43,827
Language Teacher Shuang Wen Academy Network New York, NY Aug 25, 2015 $43,827
Spanish Language Immersion Teacher Sioux Falls School District 49-5 Sioux Falls, SD Aug 15, 2016 $43,809
Spanish Language Immersion Teacher Sioux Falls School District 49-5 Sioux Falls, SD Jan 07, 2016 $43,783
Turkish Language Teacher Global Spectrum Foundation, Inc. Alpharetta, GA Jan 06, 2016 $43,500
Dual Language Teacher Community Consolidated School District 59 Des Plaines, IL Aug 24, 2016 $43,471 -
$61,471

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Top Skills for A Language Teacher

  1. Language
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided basic and advanced German language instruction for secondary level students.
  • Execute Classroom Management Strategies and Disciplinary Program to ensure positive classroom environment, including dealing with behavioral issues.
  • Organized daily activities, developed lesson plans and designed student evaluations.
  • Administered informal assessments to identify student learning.
  • Teach Grammar Vocabulary and Communication skills with lessons organized around an introduction to 19th century French History and Art

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Top 10 Best States for Language Teachers

  1. Alaska
  2. Connecticut
  3. California
  4. New Jersey
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Maryland
  7. Rhode Island
  8. New York
  9. Delaware
  10. District of Columbia
  • (50 jobs)
  • (351 jobs)
  • (4,089 jobs)
  • (674 jobs)
  • (778 jobs)
  • (614 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)
  • (530 jobs)
  • (133 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)

Language Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5%

Male

23.4%

Unknown

22.2%
Ethnicity

White

49.3%

Asian

18.0%

Hispanic or Latino

17.0%

Black or African American

9.5%

Unknown

6.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

26.2%

French

11.9%

Chinese

10.7%

Japanese

8.1%

Mandarin

6.9%

Russian

6.3%

German

5.5%

Arabic

5.3%

Portuguese

4.7%

Italian

3.9%

Korean

2.9%

Cantonese

1.4%

Turkish

0.9%

Persian

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Polish

0.8%

Hindi

0.7%

Dutch

0.7%

Norwegian

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%
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Language Teacher Education

Schools

Brigham Young University

10.4%

University of Phoenix

8.1%

New York University

6.7%

University of Washington

6.7%

National University

6.3%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.6%

Nova Southeastern University

5.2%

George Mason University

5.2%

Michigan State University

4.8%

Temple University

4.4%

University of Texas at Austin

4.4%

Teachers College of Columbia University

4.1%

Northeastern Illinois University

3.7%

Hunter College of the City University of New York

3.7%

Florida International University

3.7%

University of Georgia

3.7%

University of South Florida

3.3%

George Washington University

3.3%

University of Maryland - University College

3.3%

University of Southern California

3.3%
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Majors

English

13.1%

Education

12.8%

Elementary Education

9.8%

Linguistics

9.2%

Business

7.5%

Teaching English As A Second Language

5.1%

Special Education

4.6%

Educational Leadership

4.4%

Area Studies

4.2%

Psychology

4.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.8%

East Asian Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics

3.2%

Communication Disorders Sciences

3.0%

Accounting

2.5%

Early Childhood Education

2.5%

Law

2.2%

Economics

2.1%

Music

2.0%

Bilingual Education

2.0%

Curriculum And Instruction

1.9%
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Degrees

Masters

38.8%

Bachelors

29.9%

Other

15.8%

Certificate

6.2%

Doctorate

4.6%

Associate

3.1%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.2%
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