Salary and Career Info for a Literature Professor

Sep 29, 2019

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. Average job growth for postsecondary literature teachers is projected through 2028, with average salaries in the high $70,000's.

Essential Information

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 (2018 - 2028)* 4% for English language and literature professors
Mean Salary (2018)* $78,150 annually for 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 $78,150 in May 2018 ( 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.

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 Outlook

Employment of postsecondary English language and literature teachers is expected to increase by 4% from 2018 to 2028, 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 about average through 2028, 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 4% through 2028, growth in this field is about average. Salaries averaged about $78,000 in 2018.

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