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October 7, 2022

Adjunct Professors: How Much Do They Make?

Blog Introduction: You may be wondering how much money adjunct professors make. After all, they don't have the same job security or benefits as full-time professors. The answer to this question is a little bit complicated because there are a lot of variables at play. In this article, we'll break down some of the key factors that affect an adjunct professor's salary.

Whether you're considering work at a community college or just curious about what adjunct faculty members make in your area, I hope that this article about adjunct instructors can help you understand the field a bit better. While I'm not a full time adjunct faculty, I do teach occasionally for a local university, and am friendly with many faculty members across the country.

Key Factors That Affect Adjunct Professors' Salaries

There are several key factors that affect how much money an adjunct faculty makes. Some of these factors include:

  • The type of institution they work for (e.g., community college vs. university)
  • The location of the institution
  • The subject they teach
  • How many classes they teach
  • Whether or not they have a terminal degree

Let's take a closer look at each of these factors.

Type of Institution They Work For

One of the biggest factors that affects an adjunct professor's salary is the type of institution they work for. For example, adjunct professors who work for community colleges typically make less money than those who teach at universities. This is because community colleges tend to have smaller budgets than universities. As a result, they can't pay their adjunct professors as much money.

Location of the Institution

Another factor that affects an adjunct faculty member salary is the location of the institution. This is because cost of living varies drastically from one place to another. For example, an adjunct professor who lives in a small town in Ohio will likely make less money than one who lives in New York City. This is because the cost of living is much higher in New York City than it is in a small town in Ohio. As a result, institutions in New York City can afford to pay their adjunct professors more money.

Public, private, and fixed rates

A public institution may pay a fixed rate to their part time faculty members, regardless of subject or length of service. For example, the University that I teach at pays $5,000 for a 4 credit course. Adjunct pay is often by the credit hour, and so a three credit course would make 75% less than a four credit course. They may also determine adjunct pay by whether you have a Master's degree or Ph.D. in your subject.

Subject They Teach

The subject that adjunct faculty members teach also plays a role in how much money they make. This is because some subjects are in higher demand than others. For example, there is currently a shortage of adjunct professors who teach STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math). As a result, colleges and universities are willing to pay more money to attract and retain talented adjunct professors who teach these subjects.

On the other hand, there is an overabundance of adjunct faculty members who teach English and history. As a result, colleges and universities can get away with paying English and history adjuncts less money. These adjunct teaching gigs often require you to teach at more than one college to make ends meet.

How many classes you need to teach

Adjunct faculty members may be relying on their salary to pay the rent. If that's the case, you'll definitely need to teach more than one class. Part time faculty members will often teach 2-4 classes to try and make enough money to teach full time. Otherwise, they'll have to supplement their income by teaching at local community colleges, or even taking another, non-higher education job.

At $5,000 per course, you would need to teach 4x courses, three times a year (spring, summer, fall) to gross $60,000 before taxes. However, keep in mind that adjunct instructors have fewer benefits than full time faculty members. So don't expect to live on the full $60k. There may be additional taxes, insurance, or other fees to pay. For example - my University makes us pay for parking.

Are contingent faculty members considered adjunct faculty members?

Not always. While most adjunct faculty members are considered contingent faculty - they may not be welcomed back if money is tight - there are other positions in higher education that are contingent, too. Contingent faculty are potentially temporary, and so if you are contingent faculty, keep your resume fresh and keep shopping it out to local colleges and universities hiring for more permanent faculty positions.

Conclusion: How Much Do Adjunct Professors Make?

If educating students is your passion, try to get a full time faculty position instead of relying on adjunct lecturers positions to fill your pockets. While teaching part time is okay for some, adjunct pay is not usually a living wage in higher education. Faculty members receive the full benefits of teaching - even at a community college. So look for a university that values full time faculty, not adjunct faculty members. You'll be better off.

In conclusion, there are several key factors that affect how much money adjunct faculty members make. These include the type of institution they work for, the location of the institution, the subject they teach, how many classes they teach, and whether or not they have a terminal degree. All of these factors play a role in determining an adjunct professor's salary.

Every adjunct faculty deserves a living wage. If you're willing - share your experience as an adjunct faculty member in the comments below! Salary transparency is the only way that adjunct faculty members are going to accurately understand the job market.

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