Community colleges are crucial to the U.S. education system. For millions of prospective college students, bachelor’s degree programs are simply not a viable option. While four-year colleges and universities have traditionally held more prestige than their two-year counterparts, the higher ed landscape is changing. With the tuition of four-year institutions on the rise, community colleges are elevating their offerings — expanding their fields of study and improving the quality of education. This shift has inspired an upswing in students opting for associate degree programs.
It’s an exciting time to be a community college teacher. You have the unique opportunity to provide an excellent and competitive education to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to earn their degree. If you want to make an impact, becoming a community college teacher is a solid pathway to truly make a difference.
The demand for qualified community college teachers is expected to rise as the number of people enrolling in higher education programs (especially community colleges) continues to increase each year.
Educating students effectively in the designated subject matter is paramount in this preparatory setting. Community college teachers must convey relevant information efficiently and help students learn the best methods of inquiry in the subject area of the course.
Students attending community colleges are diverse in every way — age, race, ethnicity, ability, gender, and socioeconomic background. In addition to students just out of high school, many working adults attend community college courses as a means to change careers or progress in their present job.
The most important day-to-day duties of a community college teacher include:
Community colleges also have students who need remedial education, so teachers must be prepared to help their students catch up to the skill level needed to take on college-level coursework.
Someone who is:
A community college teacher needs at least a master’s degree. Like most collegiate institutions, preference may be given to a candidate with a PhD. Community colleges also want instructors with prior teaching experience. Occasionally, community colleges will employ those with relevant work experience in a particular field as well.
There are two main types of community college teachers: Adjunct and full-time faculty. The main differences between adjunct and full-time faculty community college teachers are course load, pay, benefits, and job security.
Adjunct teachers represent a majority of instructors at U.S. community colleges. They teach courses at community colleges on a part-time basis.
Full-time faculty are community college teachers who are on tenure track. This means they earn an annual salary, benefits, and the opportunity for long-term job security.
Salaries for community college teachers vary depending on location, academic specialty, the instructor’s degree type, and previous experience. There’s also a substantial gap between the earnings of full-time teachers and adjunct instructors. According to Tough Nickel, the average annual pay for full-time faculty ranged from $46,858 to $57,599.
Here is a current snapshot of average salaries for community college teachers:
The income of a community college teacher can vary based on several factors including:
Students will continue to enroll in higher education, gaining the essential knowledge and skills necessary to obtain their career goals. The job outlook for post-secondary teachers is expected to grow 11% through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This forecast includes part-time post-secondary teachers as well.
Certain subjects are in higher demand than others. According to the job outlook data from the BLS, post-secondary professor employment projections will increase in these subjects by 2028:
Many community college teachers continue to take courses to keep up-to-date on the latest discoveries in their subject area. And there’s always the option to go back to school to earn a doctorate, which will expand your job opportunities even further.
Hiring at community colleges is more locally based than at four-year universities, which often conduct nationwide candidate searches. Local newspapers, online postings, and the Chronicle of Higher Education are frequently used to advertise open positions. A candidate will be expected to have familiarity with the community college system, the local community, and the field of study associated with the job. Showing enthusiasm for the community college setting, as well as the discipline, will often go a long way toward impressing the people on the interview committee.
Several professional organizations work to support the careers of community college teachers:
Check out this video to get a better sense of what it’s like to be a community college teacher.
The internet makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent community college teachers. Here is a list of our favorite websites and Twitter handles, in no particular order.