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Becoming a college instructor can be a very rewarding job that enables you to instruct students in a wide variety of academic, career, and technical subjects beyond the high school level. College instructors, often referred to as professors, may also conduct research and publish papers. If you decide to become a college instructor, your main job duty will be to teach courses in your specific area of expertise.

As a college instructor, you'll be expected to develop course outlines or syllabi, design course content that meets department standards, plan lessons and assignments, and grade student assignments, papers, and exams. Depending on whether you work for a small college or large university, you could end up teaching small seminars with a few students or large lectures with hundreds of students. You may also have the opportunity to teach online courses.

If you're thinking of becoming a college instructor, educational requirements will vary depending on the subject and the educational institution where you are employed. Many colleges and universities require their instructors to have a Ph.D. in their field; however, some smaller institutions and community colleges may employ instructors with master's degrees.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a college instructor. For example, did you know that they make an average of $26.78 an hour? That's $55,705 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow -1% and produce -1,800 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a College Instructor Do

There are certain skills that many college instructors have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, organizational skills and patience.

Learn more about what a College Instructor does

How To Become a College Instructor

If you're interested in becoming a college instructor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 55.8% of college instructors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 28.2% of college instructors have master's degrees. Even though most college instructors have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a college instructor. When we researched the most common majors for a college instructor, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on college instructor resumes include associate degree degrees or doctoral degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a college instructor. In fact, many college instructor jobs require experience in a role such as teacher. Meanwhile, many college instructors also have previous career experience in roles such as instructor or internship.

College Instructor Career Paths

Average Salary for a College Instructor

College Instructors in America make an average salary of $55,705 per year or $27 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $90,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $34,000 per year.
Average College Instructor Salary
$55,705 Yearly
$26.78 hourly
$34,000
10 %
$55,000
Median
$90,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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College Instructor Education

College Instructor Majors

14.8 %
10.0 %

College Instructor Degrees

Bachelors

55.8 %

Masters

28.2 %

Associate

9.7 %

Top Colleges for College Instructors

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

3. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,816
Enrollment
21,047

4. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

5. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

7. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708

8. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

9. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

10. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

Top Skills For a College Instructor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.9% of college instructors listed classroom management on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and organizational skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable College Instructor Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use College Instructor templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your College Instructor resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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College Instructor Demographics

College Instructor Gender Distribution

Female
Female
53%
Male
Male
48%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among college instructors, 52.5% of them are women, while 47.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among college instructors is White, which makes up 69.5% of all college instructors.

  • The most common foreign language among college instructors is Spanish at 44.1%.

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Best States For a College Instructor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a college instructor. The best states for people in this position are California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan. College instructors make the most in California with an average salary of $90,931. Whereas in Massachusetts and Minnesota, they would average $84,798 and $75,362, respectively. While college instructors would only make an average of $74,988 in Michigan, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. California

Total College Instructor Jobs:
2,363
Highest 10% Earn:
$152,000
Location Quotient:
1 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Michigan

Total College Instructor Jobs:
622
Highest 10% Earn:
$121,000
Location Quotient:
0.99 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Jersey

Total College Instructor Jobs:
869
Highest 10% Earn:
$123,000
Location Quotient:
1.36 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For College Instructors

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Top College Instructor Employers

Most Common Employers For College Instructor

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Heald College$72,832$35.0211
2Central Texas College$69,477$33.4014
3Los Angeles Trade-Technical College$65,618$31.556
4ASA College$64,477$31.006
5Baker College$63,025$30.3010
6Miller-Motte College$60,632$29.159
7ESL Federal Credit Union$59,840$28.7715
8Lee College$59,296$28.516
9Kaplan$59,030$28.3818
10Columbia College$58,148$27.967

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