English Professor  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotEnglish professors are among the most highly educated professionals in the world. They do constant research. They teach college and university students how to analyze ancient and modern literature. They also help students develop their grammar and composition skills.

dotEnglish is a required class for almost every university student. That's because English is more than the study of Shakespeare, Hemingway and other literary greats. Taking English teaches you how to think critically and provides research skills that will benefit any career.

dotMost college and university faculty, including English professors, are placed in one of four academic ranks: professor, associate professor, assistant professor and instructor or lecturer.

The difference between the four is generally in the level of education obtained, as well as the level of responsibility. A full-fledged professor has usually obtained a doctorate. Instructors may be doctoral students who are still enrolled in university.

dotThere is much more to an English professor's job than teaching. Besides class preparation, holding office hours and marking student papers, professors also conduct research, which often leads to published work in academic journals or books.

Some English professors also perform administrative duties within the educational institution. These duties include making policy, dealing with academic issues, drafting budgets, purchasing and hiring.

dotSchedules for English professors are usually flexible, although the university will set out class times. A professor might spend 12 to 16 hours a week in the classroom and three to six hours a week in the office for student consultations. They also attend faculty or committee meetings as necessary.

Staggered hours and night or weekend classes are fairly common, especially for part-time professors. Generally, faculty is employed on a nine-month contract, allowing for quite a bit of flexibility during the summer. However, most professors must meet regular research deadlines, and they have to fit that work in around teaching.

dotThis job involves a lot of reading and interaction with others. Those with special vision and hearing needs may find it a more challenging field.

At a Glance

Teach students to think critically about literature and the written word

  • Retiring professors will potentially create job openings in the future
  • About three out of every 10 professors teach part time
  • A doctorate and experience are needed to become a full-fledged professor