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Become An Adjunct Faculty Member

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Working As An Adjunct Faculty Member

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • $90,840

    Average Salary

What Does An Adjunct Faculty Member Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and career and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Duties

Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Work with students who are taking classes to improve their knowledge or career skills
  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving a series of courses
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • Advise students about which classes to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field
  • Conduct research and experiments to advance knowledge in their field
  • Supervise graduate students who are working toward doctoral degrees
  • Publish original research and analysis in books and academic journals
  • Serve on academic and administrative committees that review and recommend policies, make budget decisions, or advise on hiring and promotions within their department

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. Some teach academic subjects, such as English or philosophy. Others focus on career-related subjects, such as law, nursing, or culinary arts.

At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments that specialize in a subject, such as history, science, business, or music. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar in a very specific area of mathematics.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary with their positions in a university or college. In large colleges or universities, they may spend their time teaching, conducting research or experiments, applying for grants to fund their research, or supervising graduate teaching assistants who are teaching classes.

Postsecondary teachers who work in small colleges and universities or in community colleges often spend more time teaching classes and working with students. They may spend some time conducting research, but they do not have as much time to devote to it.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (a professor who cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to spend more time on their research. They also may be expected to serve on more college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with just a few students, or laboratories where students practice the subject matter. They work with an increasingly varied student population as more part-time, older, and culturally diverse students are going to postsecondary schools.

Professors need to keep up with developments in their field by reading scholarly articles, talking with colleagues, and participating in professional conferences. A tenured professor must do original research, such as experiments, document analysis, or critical reviews, and publish their findings.

Some postsecondary teachers work for online universities or teach online classes. They use websites to present lessons and information, to assign and accept students’ work, and to participate in course discussions. Online professors communicate with students by email and by phone and might never meet their students in person.

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How To Become An Adjunct Faculty Member

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Most commonly, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. In career and technical schools, work experience may be important for getting a postsecondary teaching job.

Education

Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Some schools may hire those with a master’s degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Doctoral programs generally take multiple years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree program. They spend time completing a master’s degree and then writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the student’s field of study. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges or career and technical schools also may hire those with a master’s degree. However, in some fields, there are more applicants than available positions. In these situations, institutions can be more selective, and they frequently choose applicants who have a Ph.D. over those with a master’s degree.

Postsecondary teachers who teach career and technical education courses, such as culinary arts or cosmetology, may not be required to have graduate-level education. At a minimum they must hold the degree of the program in which they are teaching. For example, the teacher must hold an associate’s degree if they teach a program that is at the associate’s degree level. In addition, work experience or certification may be just as important as education for getting a postsecondary teaching job at a career or technical school.

Other Experience

Some institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience, but this is not a requirement for all fields or for all employers.

In health specialties, art, or education fields, hands-on work experience in the industry can be important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of expertise.

In fields such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. These short-term jobs, sometimes called “post-docs,” usually involve working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes in the institution in which they are enrolled.

Some postsecondary teachers, especially adjunct professors, have another job in addition to teaching.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or they may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.

Advancement

A major goal for postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree is attaining a tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. It can take up to 7 years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Tenure and tenure track positions are declining as institutions are relying more heavily on part-time faculty.

Some tenured professors advance to administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To challenge established theories and beliefs, conduct original research, and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need good critical-thinking skills.

Interpersonal skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be able to work well with others and must have good communication skills to serve on committees and give lectures.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers need to be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and teach students who have little or no experience with the subject.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good communication skills to give lectures.

Writing skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be skilled writers to publish original research and analysis.

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Adjunct Faculty Member jobs

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Adjunct Faculty Member Career Paths

Adjunct Faculty Member
Nurse Practitioner Associate Professor Associate Dean
Academic Affairs Dean
12 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Nurse Manager Education Director
Academic Dean
10 Yearsyrs
Educator Adjunct Instructor ESL Instructor
Academic Director
8 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Assistant Director Coach
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Psychologist Clinical Director Adjunct Instructor
Associate Dean
10 Yearsyrs
Physician Assistant Assistant Director Coach
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Instructor Program Manager
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Faculty Member Assistant Professor Program Director
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Faculty Assistant Professor Program Manager
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Adjunct Professor Senior Project Manager
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Psychologist Adjunct Professor Senior Software Engineer
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Faculty Nurse Practitioner Assistant Professor
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Physician Assistant Physician Medical Coder
Director Of Information Management
10 Yearsyrs
Faculty Member Adjunct Instructor Instructor
Director Of Instruction
6 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor English Instructor Instructor
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Faculty Chairperson
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Senior Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Educator Long Term Substitute Teacher Kindergarten Teacher
School Director
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Program Director Operations Director
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Research Associate Program Manager
Technical Director
7 Yearsyrs
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Adjunct Faculty Member Demographics

Gender

Female

53.8%

Male

44.1%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

82.3%

Hispanic or Latino

8.2%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

1.9%

Black or African American

0.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.0%

French

15.0%

Italian

8.0%

Arabic

6.0%

Russian

5.0%

German

5.0%

Hindi

3.0%

Chinese

3.0%

Turkish

2.0%

Mandarin

2.0%

Portuguese

2.0%

Persian

2.0%

Urdu

2.0%

Telugu

1.0%

Romanian

1.0%

Dutch

1.0%

Konkani

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Cayuga

1.0%

Dari

1.0%
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Adjunct Faculty Member Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

22.8%

Capella University

7.6%

Walden University

6.9%

Michigan State University

4.7%

Webster University

4.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.0%

University of Memphis

4.0%

Towson University

4.0%

Ohio University -

3.6%

Wayne State University

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Regis University

3.6%

University of Texas at Austin

3.6%

Northern Arizona University

3.6%

Ball State University

3.6%

Grand Canyon University

3.6%

George Washington University

3.3%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.3%

Indiana Wesleyan University

3.3%

Ohio State University

2.9%
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Majors

Business

19.6%

Nursing

13.7%

Education

6.0%

Management

5.9%

Educational Leadership

5.9%

Law

5.9%

Psychology

4.6%

English

4.5%

Elementary Education

4.1%

Counseling Psychology

4.1%

Clinical Psychology

3.7%

Human Resources Management

3.3%

Social Work

2.8%

Communication

2.7%

School Counseling

2.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.2%

Computer Science

2.1%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.1%

Chemistry

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.1%
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Degrees

Masters

52.3%

Doctorate

18.8%

Other

11.1%

Bachelors

10.8%

Certificate

4.5%

Associate

2.2%

License

0.2%

Diploma

0.1%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Adjunct Faculty Member Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Adjunct Faculty Member Woodbury University Burbank, CA Sep 10, 2009 $81,581
Adjunct Faculty Member Johnson & Wales University North Miami, FL Sep 01, 2009 $56,349
Adjunct Faculty Member Bay State College Boston, MA Jul 12, 2010 $55,368
Adjunct Faculty Member Bay State College Boston, MA Jul 11, 2013 $42,387

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Top Skills for An Adjunct Faculty Member

ClassInstructionOnlineCoursesCurriculumDevelopmentUndergraduateCoursesAbnormalPsychologyCourseSyllabusMethodsLessonPlansInformationTechnologyMathematicsPrinciplesBlackboardLaboratoryTopicsTheoryCourseMaterialsHistoryChildEthicsStudentLearning

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Top Adjunct Faculty Member Skills

  1. Class Instruction
  2. Online Courses
  3. Curriculum Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed and delivered class instruction through the development of lesson plans and development of activities to support lesson objectives.
  • Design hybrid and online courses.
  • Developed online course revision and created undergraduate courses.
  • Designed and developed course syllabus, assignments and examinations for economics curriculum.
  • Captured timely news and critical management messages, wrote contents, and continuously improved distribution methods.

Top Adjunct Faculty Member Employers

Adjunct Faculty Member Videos

MICA Adjunct Faculty Moves to Unionize

Breaking the Poverty of Adjunct Faculty — Oplerno ◐ Woodblock 2015

Professors in Poverty • BRAVE NEW FILMS

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