Becoming a creative writing teacher requires a particular skill set and a level of education. Different educational settings carry differing requirements for credentials, licensing, and education. However, a particular set of talents and exercised skills will be useful across these different settings. A creative writing teacher guides workshops and mentors students one-on-one, offering constructive feedback on stories, poems or essays.
Earn the appropriate degree for the job you desire. For a high-school teaching position, you will need at least a bachelor's degree and the appropriate state licensure to teach in a K-12 school. However, most creative writing teacher positions are in private or post-secondary schools, since creative writing is not often an individual course offered in public school systems. Typically a private or post-secondary level educator in creative writing carries a terminal degree, meaning an MFA or a Ph.D. The MFA is a masters of fine arts degree and renders an applicant qualified to teach creative writing at the college level, guiding workshops and critiquing student writing. MFA programs are offered nationwide, and many offer tuition scholarships and stipends for teaching assistantships and research appointments. Some teaching positions will require or prefer both the MFA and Ph.D. degrees.
Gain classroom experience in graduate school. During your MFA or Ph.D. program, take any opportunity to teach courses as a teaching assistant. This teaching experience will allow you to compete for jobs on a national level and will give you more to point to on a resume than your degree and published work. Most schools look for applicants who have a solid teaching record and references who can attest to their talents and professionalism in the classroom.
Publish widely. Most creative writing positions, especially at the graduate level in universities, require applicants to have published multiple books in the genres they plan to teach. You will have the most success on the market if you can demonstrate that you are actively writing, publishing and even editing in literary journals and small or major presses, particularly if your work is well-reviewed. Universities seek professors of creative writing who will bring experience and knowledge of the writing process to the classroom. Therefore, books and published poems, stories and essays demonstrate your success in the market as well as in academia.
- It can be difficult to balance your pursuit of an advanced degree with your desire to write creatively, but if you wish to teach creative writing, you must write and seek publication.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.