6 minute read

Adjunct Professor

Education and Training: Master’s degree or Ph.D. in the area to be taught
Average Salary: $63,170 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

In terms of tenure, college professors fall in one of two types. Some are full-time tenured professors, while some work on a part-time basis. The latter are known as adjunct professors, who make up the majority of the professors in the United States. A number of adjunct professors are considered tenure-track, meaning they are working towards permanent employment. On the other hand, others are contractual employees who have work in their specialized fields outside the academe.

Adjunct professors are usually recruited to teach introductory or specialized courses. They are hired by the subject and by the semester. Some teach just because they find enjoyment and gratification from it. However, most find that by teaching at several universities, they can still manage to have a full-time schedule and earn a living from it.

The main responsibility of an adjunct professor is to write lectures and convey them to students via effective instructional methodology. They are expected to develop the curriculum of what they’ll be teaching and create course materials. They also create examinations, as well as administer and grade these exams. On top of this, they monitor their students’ behavior and keep records of their attendance. At times, they may be required to resolve issues such as disciplinary matters.

Since adjunct professors are contract-based, their tasks revolve mainly around teaching. Unlike full-time, tenured instructors, they aren’t required to participate in administrative duties and conduct research work.

As with any other university employee, they must adhere to the highest ethical standards, display punctuality, demonstrate a good work ethic, and dress appropriately and professionally.

Education and Training Requirements

An adjunct professor candidate must meet the minimum education requirement required by the college or university being applied to. A few community colleges will hire adjunct professors with a bachelor’s degree to teach introductory courses. On the other hand, most schools require one to have a master’s degree that’s related to the course he/she will be teaching, but those with a doctorate degree will definitely be preferred. Apart from a graduate school degree, some employers are looking for adjunct professor applicants with at least 18 graduate hours in the field that they wish to teach.

There are some colleges that are offering certificate programs for adjunct professors. These programs are geared towards helping them become more effective instructors by providing them with modules that are focused on teaching. Here, they will learn about how to design effective classroom materials, create assessment tools, manage diversity in the classroom, and handle student behavior. Adjunct professors are normally required to finish the program within the academic year. Upon completion, they will receive a certificate plus a one-time stipend that ranges from $200-$350.

Getting the Job

Becoming an adjunct professor is all a matter of being at the right place at the right time. This is because the need for one is determined by the lack of teaching faculty in a university. Thus, if a certain class must be offered but there isn’t any full-time or part-time faculty to cover it, then that’s the only time that an opening for an adjunct professor becomes available.

If you have a bachelor’s degree and little to no experience in teaching, you may consider sending your resumé to technical schools. Most of these schools don’t require their adjunct faculty to have a graduate degree.

If you’re a graduate student and you wish to become an adjunct professor, you could start by looking for a vacancy in the department that you’re specializing in. It would be easier for you if you’ve already had some experience as a teaching assistant and hence have previously taught a few classes in that department. This could give you an edge over other applicants since you’ve familiarized yourself with the administrative staff, department faculty, and curriculum components.

You may also consider checking the websites of different schools for vacancies, as well as contacting their career services office. A good tip is to target colleges with a large student population or a limited budget since they may rely more on the services of adjunct professors versus full-time ones.

When you go in for an interview, put your best foot forward. Show the panel that you know your area of expertise inside and out. You also have to demonstrate good communication and interpersonal skills. You may be asked to give a short sample lecture so prepare for that beforehand.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Postsecondary teaching positions are expected to grow at a rate of 15% between 2008 and 2018. This rate is faster than the average 10% growth for other occupations. This growth stems from increases in expected retirements of teachers and a rise in university enrollment, which is due to an upsurge of the population of 18 to 24-year olds and of high school students who choose to attend college.

For tenure-track positions, more competition is expected as compared to non-tenure-track positions. This is because more universities are choosing to hire adjunct professors because they’re more flexible in the subjects that they can teach and they’re less costly in terms of salary and benefits. Although competition is becoming tighter, there will be more available positions in community colleges and trade schools. Ph.D. holders are the ones with the best job prospects.

In the academic career, the major objective of teaching faculty is to attain tenure. Doing so can take a grueling seven years. Within this timeframe, those in tenure-track positions must pass certain criteria before getting promoted as instructors, assistant professors, associate professors, and professors. After this, their research, teaching method and overall contribution to the education institution is reviewed. If the review that they get is favorable, then they’re granted tenure. If not, they may be required to leave the university.

For tenured faculty, their next career step is to move into managerial or administrative work. They can be one of the following: dean, departmental chairperson, or president.

Working Conditions and Environment

Most adjunct professors work at multiple universities in order to make a living out of their job. Often, they don’t have their own cubicles or offices, and they may be merely asked to share some desk space with other faculty members. They may teach varying classes in different locations so commuting or driving can add several hours to their already tiring day.

Since they are not full-time faculty members, adjunct professors are free to choose how much time they will devote to teaching. Those with a job outside the university may opt for fewer classes. Those who wish to work full-time may have a heavier load.

Classes in universities are normally on weekdays. However, for adjunct professors employed by community colleges, work may take place during weekday nights and even during weekends since majority of their students have family responsibilities or full-time day jobs.

Adjunct professors typically work in an indoor university setting. Job stress can be much higher for those working towards tenured positions. Nonetheless, part-time faculty can also experience stress about their job security and lack of benefits.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary of adjunct professors is $63,170 per annum. Their salary can vary based on different factors like education and experience.

Adjunct professors may be paid on a per-credit or a per-course basis. For instance, you may receive $500 for one credit, or $2,000 on a four-credit course. Those teaching in the traditional classroom setting receive more or less the same as those who teach online.

Based on the latest salary data, adjunct professors who are receiving the most are those who have 10 to 19 years of work experience. They earn between $12,699 and $95,820 per year. Those with one to four years of experience go in second, making $11,999 to $95,000. Those who are making the least have less than a year of teaching experience. Their salary range is $12,800 to $48,000.

A lot of adjunct professors don’t receive the standard company benefits. This is because their teaching load is below the least required for them to earn benefits like life insurance and health care.

Go for More Information
Active Adjunct, Inc.
8233 Station Village Lane, Unit 2301
San Diego, CA 92108-6586

The Adjunct Advocate Magazine
817 Brookside Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0117
(734) 930-6854

Society of Certified Adjunct Faculty Educators, Inc.
P.O. Box 555
Buffalo, IA 52728
(888) 827-7390

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