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English Literature Professor: Job Description and Requirements

Find out what a job as an English literature professor entails. Learn about education requirements for employment. Get the career prospects and earning potential for this career to see if it's a good fit for you.

Career Definition for English Literature Professors

An English literature professor often holds a teaching position at a post-secondary institution like a college or university. Duties of an English literature professor include delivering lectures, developing and grading test papers, reviewing textbooks and other course supplemental materials, and interacting with students and peers. An English literature professor may choose to publish research materials in a chosen area of specialization.

Education Graduate degree in related field of study
Job Duties Delivering lectures, grading papers, reviewing textbooks
Median Salary (2017)* $64,910 per year
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

An English lit professor at an accredited 2- or 4-year college or university will often hold a graduate degree such as a doctorate in English literature. Many institutions award tenure status to full professors who have demonstrated a strong record of teaching, administrative service, and published research. Tenured positions are those where the holder is protected from termination.

Skills Required

A major requirement for a career as an English lit professor is the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in written form. An ability to interact with others is also important. An English literature professor often enjoys reading and research, and is able to explain difficult concepts to others.

Career and Economic Outlook

The career outlook for English lit professors is generally strong. Employment opportunities for English literature post-secondary teachers are projected to increase at a rate of 10% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). This rate is faster than average for all jobs. The BLS reported the median annual salary of an English lit professor as $64,910 in 2017. An English literature professor may earn additional income from writing, lecturing, or textbook endorsements.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options include:

Archivist

An archivist collects, appraises, and preserves historically important documents and materials. Archivists may also organize these materials and create finding aids so that they can be accessed from storage easily and used for research purposes. Some archivists pursue an area of specialty, either in a subject or period in time. Entry-level employment is possible with a bachelor's degree in history, library science, or a related field; however, advanced and management positions may require a Ph.D. in one of these or a related field. The BLS reports that jobs for archivists are expected to increase 14% from 2016-2026. The BLS also reported that archivists earned median pay of $51,760 in 2017.

Archaeologist

An archaeologist studies past civilizations, including their culture, language, and social development through examination of artifacts that illuminate the historical record. Fieldwork includes locating, observing, and analyzing found items, such as pottery, artwork, or structural remains, to build a narrative about past cultures. A minimum of a master's degree is required for employment; a Ph.D. is typically required for international fieldwork or advancement, including employment as a museum curator. According to the BLS, jobs for anthropologists and archaeologists are expected to increase 4% from 2016-2026. The median pay of anthropologists and archaeologists was $62,280 in 2017, according to the BLS.


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