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June 26, 2022

How to Become Adjunct Professor: Everything You Need to Know

Do you have a passion for teaching? Are you looking for a way to share your knowledge with others and make a difference in their lives? If so, becoming an adjunct professor may be the perfect career for you! Adjunct professors play an important role in the education system, and there is currently a shortage of qualified educators.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about becoming an adjunct professor. We will cover topics such as job requirements, pay and benefits, and how to stand out from the competition. So if you are interested in learning more about this exciting career opportunity, keep reading!

Job requirements of adjunct professors

Teaching at the college level can be a very rewarding experience. Adjunct professors are able to share their knowledge and expertise with students who are eager to learn. In addition, adjunct professors often have the opportunity to work with other professionals in their field, which can broaden their perspective and deepen their understanding of the subject matter. However, adjunct professors also have certain job requirements that must be met in order to be successful in this role.

First and foremost, an adjunct professor must be able to effectively communicate with their students. Any adjunct professor must also be able to manage their time wisely, as they often have other commitments outside of teaching.

Additionally, an adjunct professor must be comfortable working independently, as they are typically not required to meet with students on a regular basis. An adjunct professor who is tech-savvy is going to do better with things like the learning management system (LMS) than an adjunct professor who struggles with new technology.

Finally, adjunct professors must be able to adapt to change, as they may need to alter their teaching methods or course material on short notice. Those who are able to meet these requirements can find great satisfaction in teaching at the college level.

Educational requirements for an adjunct professor

Beyond these theoretical requirements, though, adjunct professors really just need a higher education degree to teach. At community colleges, a Master's degree may be perfectly acceptable. Occasionally, a bachelor's degree may suffice. But, to teach at a research university, you'll likely need a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in the field you wish to teach.

Adjunct professors typically have a higher education degree in the field they wish to teach. For example, since I am trained in the sciences, I would likely NOT be hired to teach psychology unless I had some real world expertise in the subject. If I had a Bachelor's degree in psychology, they may let me slide in - but it would vary by school.

That being said, do not go to graduate school or get a graduate degree specifically to find an adjunct professor position. Schools may hire you if you have a lot of real world experience, so don't waste your money if you just want to teach courses on things that you have a strong track record in. Example: you're a successful businessperson who wants to teach a business class.

Pay and benefits for adjunct professors

Adjunct professors play an important role in higher education, yet they are often paid relatively low wages and receive few benefits. This can make it difficult for adjuncts to support themselves and their families, leading many to seek other employment.

Some colleges and universities have attempted to address this issue by increasing pay and benefits for adjuncts, but the results have been mixed. In some cases, adjuncts have seen their pay and benefits improve, but in other cases, these changes have been minimal. There is still much room for improvement in the way adjuncts are treated, but it is clear that some progress is being made.

Where I teach, a public university, I make $1,250 per credit hour taught. So if I were to teach a full 16 credits, I could make $20,000 over the course of the semester. However, they take a mandatory 15% retirement before taxes, and if I were teaching 4 classes from scratch, it would probably kill me. So just be aware - it's a lot of work.

There is little to no job security for an adjunct professor. You teach courses from semester to semester, and there's no guarantee that you'll be rehired the next semester. That being said, because the jobs are undesirable, there is a level of job security.

Standing out on your job applications to be an adjunct professor

There are a few things you can do to make your applications for adjunct professor jobs stand out from the rest. First, be sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to each position you apply for. Highlight the skills and experience that make you the ideal candidate for that particular job.

Second, take the time to research each college or university you apply to, and include information about why you would be a good fit for their institution.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your network of connections in the academic world. Let them know you’re job-hunting and see if they have any recommendations or leads for you.

Even if we try to stop the bias, the fact remains that someone is more likely to hire you if they've met you before the interview process. So invite faculty at your target university into useful conversations. Make some friends! By taking these steps, you’ll increase your chances of getting hired as an adjunct professor.

And remember: just because universities have jobs posted doesn't mean that they're actually hiring an adjunct position. Many of them just use the adjunct position postings as ways to collect resumes. I once received a rejection letter three years later from a batch of adjunct positions that I had applied to.

Be an adjunct professor as a back up.

Ultimately, becoming an adjunct professor is a rough choice if you're trying to do it full time. An adjunct professor job is best used to gain teaching experience or make a little extra cash on the side.

If you're struggling to find a job that will fit your master's degree or Ph.D., look into parallel entry for K-12 education. You'd probably make more money with that full time job.

I do enjoy teaching students, but being an adjunct instructor is a LOT of work. So be aware of what you're getting into before you become an adjunct professor.

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