English professor teaching

How to Become an
English Professor

Dasha Castillo
By Dasha Castillo - Content Writer
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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Are you considering a career as an English professor? If so, this is the place to be. This guide includes career information and resources for aspiring English professors.

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What does an English Professor Do?

An English professor teaches courses in an academic environment, either at an undergraduate or graduate level. They instruct students in literature writing and English. They regularly publish academic papers in reputable journals and books in their field by a university press or a publishing house. They might also participate in school committees or assume further administrative duties, such as representing an entire English department.

Typical English professor duties and responsibilities include:

  • Teaching classes and lectures.

  • Developing subject-specific curriculums and course material.

  • Publishing academic papers and reputable journals.

  • Attending conferences, delivering presentations and networking with others in the field.

  • Providing mentoring sessions to students.

  • Assessing students’ aptitude and creating recommendations for improvement.

  • Assisting with student recruitment.

  • Grading papers.

How Do You Become an English Professor?

To be a successful English professor, you should have a Ph.D. and three or more years of experience teaching in an academic setting. To be considered, you must have published articles and solid mentoring skills. Demand for English professors is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 10% growth for the position through 2024, amounting to 2,660 job openings. Here’s a step-by-step guide for this fast-growing career.


Complete your bachelor’s degree.

For those who want to become an English professor, you must first hold an undergraduate degree in literature, composition or linguistics and maintain an excellent grade point average.


Get your master’s and Ph.D.

The next step would be to earn a master’s degree in distance education, law, media relations or journalism and, in most cases, a doctoral degree. Expect a comprehensive exam or thesis to graduate.


Get teaching experience.

Aspiring college professors need to have teaching experience. To gain experience, they can apply for graduate-level teaching assistant positions. By doing so, they have the prerequisite to becoming an associate professor and progress to becoming an English professor.


Create a well-written resume to apply for jobs.

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English Professor Skills

An English professor must know how to teach and have the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in written form. They should have excellent writing skills and the ability to write scholarly articles. They also must enjoy research and reading in their discipline and be able to explain complex concepts to others by translating academic jargon into everyday language.

But the most important skill every English professor needs is a firm grasp of literature, whether the English Renaissance or the realm of contemporary fiction.

English professor soft skills:

1Active listening
3Cultural awareness

Hard skills:

1Curriculum development
5Academic advising
6Instructional design
7Distance learning

Insights from an English Professor

To go more in-depth of what to expect from a job as an English Professor we meet with professionals in the industry to get their thoughts. Scroll down to learn more.

What is the common career path for a English Professor?

The first step in becoming an English Professor is to pursue a bachelor's degree in English or American literature combined with education. This can already get you through the door and on your way. To teach at a college level you must also pursue a master's degree at an accredited university. You can gain experience by becoming a part-time assistant teacher at this level which will help your resume in the end.

What should someone consider before becoming a English Professor?

The first goal when considering to become an English Professor is getting a Bachelor's degree in English or American Culture literature. Next is to enroll in a graduate school program with the intent of pursuing a master's degree. As you pursue your master's degree you can already apply to be a graduate teaching assistant to gain experience so you become an even better candidate.

What type of person excels in this job?

Students enjoy teachers who are innovative and not monotonous. A good imagination is a start. Also, interaction with students is another important aspect when it comes to teaching. Students enjoy one-on-one interaction.

What are some of the most important skills for English Professors to have?

The ability to speak in public, time management and planning every step of the course. An open mind to deviate from plans and be flexible. Communication skills with your fellow students must be consistent. Passion for teaching and for the English language is a must to inspire students to learn and succeed.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a English Professor?

The most rewarding aspect is knowing that you're contributing to the future by teaching students tools to become successful professionals. It is teachers who in the end transform lives and shape the world.

How Much Do English Professors Get Paid?

English Professors are typically paid a salary, with the median wage in the United States being $62,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-paid English Professor makes $34,200 per year while the highest-paid can earn $121,900.

Top 10 States for English Professor Salary

English Professors in the following states make the highest median annual salary in the U.S.

    New York




















    English Professor Resources

    We compiled this list of additional resources to help you continue exploring a career as an English Professor.

    Professional Groups

    The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
    Dedicated to "improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.” The council, which is more than 100 years old, has 30,000 members and subscribers in the United States and other countries.

    Modern Language Association (MLA)
    The MLA is host to an annual convention and other meetings in order to share scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues.

    English Professor Websites

    Reading all the books
    The mission here is to get teachers and students reading.

    English Resources for Teachers
    Teaching materials and resources aimed at English teachers.

    English Professor Books

    How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines
    An entertaining introduction to literature and literary basics, including symbols, themes and contexts.

    The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job
    For those eager to get tenure or turn their Ph.D. into their ideal job.<

    Write It Up: Practical Strategies for Writing and Publishing Journal Articles
    Suggestions for those who want to publish their articles in their journal of choice.

    The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.