How to Become a Literature Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a literature teacher by watching this video. The education, training and licensure requirements, and experience needed to advance your career in teaching literature will be covered. View article »

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  • 0:00 Becoming a Literature Teacher
  • 1:33 Obtain an Undergraduate Degree
  • 2:19 Pass PRAXIS Exams
  • 2:56 Become Licensed
  • 3:23 Earn a Master's Degree
  • 3:53 Continue Your Education

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Video Transcript

Becoming a Literature Teacher

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree required in some states
Degree Field English literature, teaching
Experience Student teaching
Licensure Public school teachers require state licensure
Key Skills Instructional and communication skills; patience; use of education instruction software and email programs; ability to operate classroom and basic office equipment
Salary $55,860 (for middle school teachers)
$57,200 (for high school teachers)
$61,990 (for all postsecondary English language and literature teachers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine

Literature teachers instruct middle, high school and college students in the appreciation and interpretation of published works. At the lower grade levels, literature classes often include reading and fundamental composition instruction. While teaching is often a rewarding field, teachers are sometimes called upon to motivate disinterested students or deal with those showcasing a lack of respect, which can be stressful.

At least a bachelor's degree, and in some cases a master's degree, in English literature or teaching itself is required. Student teaching is generally part of a teacher preparation program as well. Public school teachers are also required to be licensed through the state. In addition, some of the things prospective teachers need to be well-versed in include:

  • Instructional strategies
  • Communication skills
  • Patience
  • Knowledge of education instruction software

Once a position is obtained, middle school teachers can expect a median annual salary of $55,860; high school teachers can expect about $57,200; and postsecondary English language and literature teachers can expect a median annual salary of $61,990.

The roadmap to becoming a literature teacher and advancing a career in literary education involves:

  • Earning a bachelor's degree
  • Completing student teacher training
  • Passing PRAXIS exams
  • Obtaining licensure
  • Completing the required continuing education
  • Potentially earning a graduate degree

Obtain an Undergraduate Degree

Teaching literature either at the middle school or secondary school level typically requires completing an English major as well as a teacher education program. In addition to completing English and literature courses, students could study topics such as teaching methods and techniques, theories in learning and teaching, educational evaluation and lesson planning.

Prospective literature teachers should also complete student teaching requirements. Teacher education programs generally require students to complete a supervised student teacher training program. Typically, the student teaching portion of a program takes place during the last semester. Student teachers work within a school district where they have the opportunity to observe, plan lessons and assist the teacher in the classroom.

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Pass PRAXIS Exams

Many colleges of education require students to take and pass the PRAXIS I exam prior to entry into a teacher education program. PRAXIS II exams test both general teaching knowledge and subject-specific knowledge, and many states require that they be taken as part of fulfilling licensure requirements. The PRAXIS II subject tests in English Language, Literature and Composition are commonly required for aspiring literature teachers.

Colleges and testing organizations offer classes to prepare students for the PRAXIS exams. Other resources, such as study guides and software, are also available.

Become Licensed

All public school teachers must be licensed. State requirements for licensure vary. Holding a bachelor's degree, completing a teacher training program, passing the appropriate PRAXIS exams and completing the necessary student teacher work are the most common requirements for becoming licensed.

Teachers are also expected to complete continuing education classes to maintain licensure. Teachers usually need to take professional development courses to keep their licensure active.

Earn a Master's Degree

Some states require that middle and high school teachers earn a master's degree after obtaining teacher certification. Schools generally offer two different types of master's degree programs. One type of program, the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), is typically designed for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in an area other than teaching and who are seeking initial teaching licensure. The second type of program is the Master of Education (M.Ed.), which is generally offered only to licensed teachers who are pursuing a master's degree.

Continue Your Education

Literature teachers with a master's degree can continue their studies to earn a PhD and seek employment as a college professor. Many postsecondary teachers pursue tenure through their college or university. To gain tenure, professors must undergo a probationary employment period of around 3 years and are encouraged to become published during this time. Tenured college professors or those on a tenure track are paid more than part-time faculty and are periodically reviewed for promotion and salary increases.

So remember, the road map to becoming a literature teacher and advancing a career in literary education involves:

  • Earning a bachelor's degree
  • Completing student teacher training
  • Passing PRAXIS exams
  • Obtaining licensure
  • Completing the required continuing education
  • Potentially earning a master's degree or even a PhD
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