A career as a literature professor requires a minimum of a master's degree to instruct at a junior college; those wishing to work at a university or to make tenure will be required to have a doctoral degree. Strong job growth for postsecondary teachers is projected through 2024, with average salaries in the low $70,000s.
Literature professors teach courses in grammar, composition, and literary theory for college students. Literature professors at junior colleges generally hold at least a master's degree in a field such as English, comparative literature or linguistics. Most 4-year colleges and universities require these professors to hold a doctoral degree. Career options and earnings for literature professors depend on their place of work, title, level of education and experience.
|Required Education||Doctoral degree usually required for university positions, master's degree for junior colleges|
|Other Requirements||Teaching assistant experience often required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)*||13% (all postsecondary teachers)|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$71,220 annually (all English language and literature professors)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Salary Information for Literature Professors
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), English language and literature professors earned an average annual income of $71,210 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Professors may work at public or private, two-year or four-year, degree-granting institutions. They may also work at online schools. Usually based on experience, field of study, and course load, salary ranges for professors across all disciplines vary widely.
According to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), literature professors often earn less than their counterparts in other fields. Furthermore, associate professors typically earn substantially less than their tenured peers. Professors of English language and literature earned an average annual income of $87,735 in 2015, reported the CUPA-HR. In contrast, associate professors of English language and literature earned an average annual income of $68,015.
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Career Information for Literature Professors
Typically, literature professors begin their careers as teacher assistants while earning their graduate degrees. These positions - in which they either directly assist department faculty or independently teach introductory courses - prepare future professors for the continued academic, administrative, and instructional duties they'll face. Experience gained through full-time, entry-level positions or assistant professorships is the best means of working toward tenure.
Tenured professors are full-time faculty members who have met certain standards in order to attain job security and academic freedom. Typically a seven-year process, attaining tenure is the goal for most full-time professors. As professors advance, they are often tasked with more administrative or supervisory roles as committee members or faculty advisers for student organizations.
For instance, an assistant or associate professor of literature may be charged with overseeing the English department's student-run literary magazine. Further advancement could eventually lead to top administrative positions, such as department chair. Such positions generally require a doctoral degree.
Employment of postsecondary English language and literature teachers is expected to increase by 13% from 2014 to 2024, the BLS reports. The expected increase in college enrollment numbers and job openings due to the retirement of current faculty support these predictions. Competition for tenure-track positions will remain high through 2024, according to the BLS. Candidates holding doctoral degrees have the best chances of obtaining these full-time positions.
Literature professors work at junior or community colleges, career and technical schools, and public or private universities. Their tasks include administrative work, research and student advising. With a projected growth rate of 13% through 2024, growth in this field is faster than average. Salaries averaged about $71,000 in 2015.