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English as Second/Foreign Language Major

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English as Second/Foreign Language

365 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
3,287 Master's Degrees Annually
#26 in Popularity
$62,030 Median Salary

Types of Degrees English as Second/Foreign Language Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many teaching English as a second or foreign language/ESL language instructor graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 3,296
Graduate Certificate 1,048
Basic Certificate 544
Bachelor’s Degree 365
Undergraduate Certificate 80
Doctor’s Degree 35
Associate’s Degree 5

What English as Second/Foreign Language Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to teaching English as a second or foreign language and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to teaching English as a second or foreign language:

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  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a teaching English as a second or foreign language student include the following:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a English as Second/Foreign Language Major?

People with a teaching English as a second or foreign language degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 7.4% $58,230
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education 8.0% $55,470
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $58,600
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in English as Second/Foreign Language?

365 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
81% Percent Women
39% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
The major attracts more women than men. About 81% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of teaching English as a second or foreign language majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 21
Black or African American 12
Hispanic or Latino 98
White 179
International Students 29
Other Races/Ethnicities 26

Geographic Diversity

Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor appeals to people across the globe. About 7.9% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do English as Second/Foreign Language Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $58,370 to $62,200 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an English as Second/Foreign Language Major  ( 58370 to 62200 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with teaching English as a second or foreign language require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to teaching English as a second or foreign language have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.3%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.6%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.3%
Some College Courses 0.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 64.6%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 12.3%
Master’s Degree 15.7%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.9%
Doctoral Degree 0.9%

Online English as Second/Foreign Language Programs

In 2018-2019, 413 schools offered a teaching English as a second or foreign language program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 57 9
Certificate (1-2 years) 20 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 2 0
Associate’s Degree 6 1
Bachelor’s Degree 170 48
Post-Baccalaureate 57 9
Master’s Degree 232 62
Post-Master’s 52 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 8 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in English as Second/Foreign Language Worth It?

The median salary for a teaching English as a second or foreign language grad is $62,030 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 55% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $442,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to teaching English as a second or foreign language.

Major Number of Grads
Teaching English or French as a Second or Foreign Language, Other 33

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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