English Teacher: Education and Career Requirements

Licensing requirements in all states mandate that public school English teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree. Private school teachers may not be required to have a bachelor's degree. College students wishing to become elementary school teachers may look to bachelor's degree programs in elementary education.

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Education Requirements for Teaching Children English and Reading Skills

School teachers who help children learn English and reading skills generally instruct primary or elementary classes. In addition to teaching English and reading skills, they may be responsible for providing instruction in mathematics, social science and other subjects.

Most teachers earn a bachelor's degree to enable them to meet licensing requirements to teach in public schools. Private school teachers are not required to be licensed, but the majority still hold at least a bachelor's degree. A common degree choice for aspiring elementary English teachers is a bachelor's degree program in elementary education.

Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education

Some bachelor's degree programs in elementary education offer undergraduates the opportunity to specialize, concentrate or minor in English. Many programs require students to take courses in human development and child psychology. Students also take English courses that cover literature and language arts topics, ranging from children's literature to literary assessments.

Student-Teacher Practicum

Most states require teachers to have some supervised teaching experience. As part of a degree program, colleges and universities usually work with local schools to have undergraduates assist teachers with preparing instruction and teaching classes. Student teaching assignments may allow students to gain practical experience through tasks such as grading student compositions or preparing a classroom reading assignment.


Public school English and reading skills teachers are required to be licensed in all states. Although licensure requirements vary, most include successful completion of basic skills tests in reading and writing, supervised teaching experience and a bachelor's degree in education. Additionally, states may also require teachers to participate in continuing education to keep their licenses valid.

Alternative Licensing Programs

Students who have a bachelor's degree in another field may be eligible to earn a license through alternative means. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that some states allow students with a bachelor's degree to begin teaching under a provisional license with the possibility of earning a regular license after 1-2 years (www.bls.gov). Aspiring English and reading skills teachers may also consider taking the educational and teacher preparation courses they lack in order to become licensed.

Career Outlook

The BLS reported that kindergarten and elementary school teachers in general earned a mean salary of $56,130 in May 2012. Jobs in this field were expected to grow 17% from 2010-2020. Middle school teachers also could expect a 17% increase during the same period. The mean yearly salary for middle school teachers was $56,280 in May 2012. High school teaching jobs were predicted to increase 7% from 2010-2020, which was slower compared to most other occupations. High school teachers earned $57,770 on average each year as of May 2012.

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