English as a Second Language Careers

English as a second language teachers, commonly known as simply ESOL teachers, teach adults to read, write, listen and speak in English. They also put the English language into a real-world and job-related context. Since ESOL teachers are required to have a public school teaching license, they frequently instruct part-time or volunteer on a regular basis in addition to their regular, paid teaching job. With an increasing need for high-quality ESOL instructors, more and more are taking part in ESOL masters programs.

Employment Opportunities

English as a second language professionals may work in a variety of environments, including:

  • Adult learning centers
  • Community colleges
  • Libraries
  • Public schools
  • Community outreach centers


English as a second language professionals need a wide range of capabilities, including:

  • Proficiency in the latest classroom computer applications
  • Willingness to work evenings and/or weekends
  • Fluent, well-read and well-written in English and (most frequently) Spanish
  • Patience
  • A positive attitude

Industry Spotlight

Because ESOL teachers most commonly teach adults, they face different issues and challenges than when teaching children. In fact, lots of grade-school level teachers find that teaching English as a second language to adults offers a sense of professional balance and well-rounded effectiveness. ESOL teachers also find they can advance much more easily into local government research and policy positions.

- Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008