Salary and Career Info for a Literature Professor

Literature professors instruct undergraduate and graduate students studying at postsecondary institutions in courses such as grammar, composition, and literary theory. Literature professors generally hold at least a master's degree in a field such as English, comparative literature or linguistics. Career options and earnings for literature professors depend on their place of work, title, and levels of education and experience.

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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 $67,980 in May 2012 ( 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, part-time faculty or adjunct professors typically earn substantially less than their full-time peers. Full-time professors of English language and literature earned an average annual income of $81,537 in 2012, reported the CUPA-HR. In contrast, part-time English language and literature instructors earned an average annual income of $41,655.

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 educators is expected to increase by 17% from 2010 to 2020, 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 high through 2020, according to the BLS. Candidates holding doctoral degrees have the best chances of obtaining these full-time positions.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics