If you look at the list of professors of English at any university, it will become obvious that the main qualification for such a position is a doctoral degree in English. Within the field of English, there are several areas of concentration where you can get a job as a professor, such as English Language and Literature, Shakespeare, Drama, Poetry and short story and there are others. Getting a doctoral degree is the key to getting hired to teach English as a professor at a university. This will take you at least seven years from the time you start university. You need to pass a comprehensive oral exam and write a dissertation on some aspect of English literature or language.
When you first get hired by the university, you will likely start off as a lecturer and advance up through the academic ranks. This means you advance to senior lecturer and then apply for a position as a tenure track assistant professor of English. You cam also get a position as a non-tenure track assistant professor, but this means that you are not working towards getting a permanent position at this university. Once you are offered tenure, which usually takes six years as an assistant professor, you advance to the rank of associate professor and at this time you become a full time member of the faculty of the English department.
In order to become a Professor of English you must publish scholarly works related to your field. In order to achieve tenure at the university level, all professors are expected to have their writing published in academic journals. As part of your job you will be teaching English courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. Therefore, your curriculum vitae must show evidence of teaching experience. There are several ways you can gain this experience, such as previously mentioned being hired as a lecturer or applying to be part of a visiting assistant professor program where you still have time to pursue research and do writing.
For the most part, newly hired Professors of English start off by teaching first year English courses. After you demonstrate proficiency in teaching, you will gradually advance to teaching more and more courses and more advanced course offerings. You do have to be willing to serve on committees, as this is an expectation of university professors. This also shows the upper academic ranks that you are willing to give of yourself to further the interests of the university and will work in your favor if you apply for an advanced position.
When you apply for the position of Professor of English, you must ensure that you have the qualifications for the job. Read the job advertisement carefully to ensure that you possess the skills that meet the criteria for the position. Most advertisements for such positions state that the university is looking for a person that is energetic and dependable and well able to cope with a full course workload in addition to extra duties.