Teaching Writing Classes: Requirements to Be a Writing Teacher

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a writing teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Writing teachers conduct classes in a variety of settings, and the requirements depend on the venue. Most writing teachers are also writers, many with degrees in English. They need to be familiar with literature and the basics of writing.

Essential Information

Writing teachers, who are almost always writers themselves, instruct students in writing basics and provide feedback on students' creative efforts. They are typically found at the college or university level; however, some writing teachers might conduct high school creative writing classes or writers' workshops offered through libraries or literary organizations. Since a very strong background in English is required, these professionals usually hold a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in creative writing, English or a related field. Writing teachers who work in public secondary schools need to earn state licensure as well.

Required Education Bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, depending on level taught
Other Requirements State licensure for secondary school teachers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% for all secondary school teachers (except special and career/technical education); 4% for all postsecondary English language and literature teachers
Median Salary (2018)* $60,320 annually for all secondary school teachers (except special and career/technical education); $66,590 annually for all postsecondary English language and literature teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Writing Teacher Education Requirements

A writing teacher should understand the basics of writing, such as tone, syntax, construction and word choice, and should be an accomplished writer in his or her own right. He or she should have exposure to a variety of literature and literary movements, which can be obtained through formal study at the post-secondary level. Additionally, participation in writers' workshops can provide valuable insight into methods for critiquing other writers, which writing teachers can apply in their classrooms.

There are many degree programs that aspiring writing teachers can pursue, but the most common are English and creative writing. These programs can be found at the bachelor's degree level; however, those serious about becoming writing teachers should pursue a creative writing degree at the master's or doctoral level. Graduate programs focus on the process of creative writing, as well as providing advanced studies of various writing forms. Often, graduate-level classes are taught by professional writers.

Career Requirements

Most institutions expect writing teacher candidates to have credentials as writers. Thus, aspiring writing teachers should try to get their works published. Common avenues for publication include literary magazines, writing journals, websites, literary anthologies and books.

When considering employment options, writing teachers will find the most opportunities at the post-secondary level. Many colleges and universities offer several classes on creative writing and writing technique. However, post-secondary teaching positions can be extremely competitive, and those teachers who are willing to work part-time generally have the best opportunities for employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Those interested in teaching writing at the secondary level should have a strong background in English. Teachers who also are able to teach literature or other subjects will have better employment prospects then those who focus exclusively on writing. Additionally, writing teachers who plan to work in public schools will need to obtain a state teaching license.

Writing teachers can work in many settings and should have a degree and other credentials that match the position. High school teachers need a bachelor's degree and a license to teach in a public school, while college teachers of writing need a graduate degree. Jobs for teachers at both levels are growing at a stable rate, with perhaps more opportunities available for those who are able to teach subjects other than writing or who are willing to work part-time.

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