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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Adjunct Professor
Top Careers After Adjunct Professor
Hispanic or Latino8.8%
Black or African American0.8%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
University of Phoenix12.7%
Nova Southeastern University7.4%
New York University6.9%
George Washington University3.9%
Florida State University3.5%
University of Florida3.4%
Michigan State University3.4%
George Mason University3.4%
West Virginia University3.2%
Grand Canyon University3.1%
University of South Florida3.1%
Florida International University3.0%
University of Southern California2.9%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Adjunct Professor-Post Professional Program||Andrews University||Berrien Springs, MI||Mar 01, 2013||$338,094|
|Adjunct Professor-Post Professional Program||Andrews University||Berrien Springs, MI||Jan 03, 2016||$338,094|
|Adjunct Professor||The Administrators of The Tulane Endowment Fund||New Orleans, LA||Jul 14, 2014||$313,050|
|Adjunct Professor||Rhode Island School of Design||Providence, RI||Jul 25, 2016||$242,718|
|Adjunct Professor or Architecture||Rhode Island School of Design||Providence, RI||Jun 20, 2016||$233,222|
|Adjunct Professor||Rhode Island School of Design||Providence, RI||Sep 01, 2013||$221,598|
|Intermittent Adjunct Professor||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||Dec 05, 2014||$208,140|
|Intermittent Adjunct Professor||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||Feb 16, 2015||$208,140|
|Professor Adjunct||Yale University||New Haven, CT||Feb 01, 2014||$204,526|
|Adjunct Professor||Columbia University||New York, NY||Jul 01, 2015||$204,000|
|Adjunct Professor||The Administrators of The Tulane Endowment Fund||New Orleans, LA||Jun 14, 2013||$202,221|
|Visiting Adjunct Professor||Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||Sep 19, 2016||$182,613|
|Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Education||Teachers College, Columbia University||New York, NY||Jan 15, 2015||$110,799|
|Assistant Adjunct Professor||University of California, Irvine||Irvine, CA||Aug 01, 2013||$110,000|
|Adjunct Professor||Montclair State University||Montclair, NJ||Sep 26, 2014||$108,524|
|Adjunct Professor||Montclair State University||Montclair, NJ||Oct 22, 2014||$108,524|
|Adjunct Professor of Economics||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||Jan 01, 2013||$108,420|
|Adjunct Professor||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Aug 22, 2016||$107,710|
|Adjunct Professor||Texas A&M University||College Station, TX||Aug 01, 2014||$106,090|
|Assistant Adjunct Professor||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||Oct 01, 2015||$74,652|
|Adjunct Professor||Yeshiva University||New York, NY||Aug 25, 2014||$74,297|
|Adjunct Professor of Sociology||Ivy Tech Community College||Indianapolis, IN||Nov 01, 2013||$73,671 -
|Assistant Adjunct Professor||University of California, San Diego||San Diego, CA||Jan 11, 2016||$73,000|
|Assistant Adjunct Professor||University of California, Davis||Sacramento, CA||Jul 01, 2015||$70,800|
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