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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 Language Instructor
Top Careers After Language Instructor
Hispanic or Latino10.6%
Black or African American0.9%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
George Mason University8.1%
University of Phoenix6.3%
Brigham Young University6.1%
New York University5.2%
University of Kansas5.2%
University of Arizona5.2%
University of Maryland - College Park4.9%
University of Southern California4.6%
George Washington University4.3%
Portland State University4.3%
Georgia State University4.0%
University of Utah4.0%
Michigan State University3.7%
Arizona State University3.7%
San Diego State University3.7%
Teachers College of Columbia University3.7%
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey3.7%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Chinese Language Instructor||Azusa Pacific University||Azusa, CA||Aug 01, 2014||$177,645|
|Turkish Language Instructor||Hudson Turkish American Cultural Association, Inc.||Ridgefield, NJ||Feb 15, 2011||$104,350|
|Japanese Language Instructor||Language House LLC||New York, NY||Apr 02, 2011||$104,350|
|Arabic Language Instructor||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Jun 07, 2012||$90,826|
|Japanese Language Instructor||SOKO Gakuen Japanese Language School||San Francisco, CA||Jun 27, 2015||$88,572|
|Spanish Language Instructor||University of Rhode Island||Kingston, RI||Jul 01, 2013||$88,176|
|Japanese Language Instructor||Woodside International School Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 01, 2011||$87,654|
|Chinese Instructor, Custom Language Services||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Aug 29, 2011||$87,654|
|Chinese Language Instructor||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Jun 07, 2012||$84,357|
|Language Instructor-Arabic||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Jun 09, 2015||$81,393|
|Spanish Language Instructor||University of Rhode Island||Kingston, RI||Jul 01, 2013||$80,746|
|Chinese Language Instructor||The President and Fellows of Middlebury College||Monterey, CA||Jun 13, 2013||$79,995|
|Language Instructor-German and Mandarin||Valor Christian Schools||Highlands Ranch, CO||Jul 01, 2013||$55,400|
|Lecturer In Korean Language Instruction||Georgia Institute of Technology||Atlanta, GA||Oct 13, 2011||$55,000|
|Lecturer In Korean Language Instruction||Georgia Institute of Technology||Atlanta, GA||May 08, 2012||$54,769|
|English Language Instructor||Metropolitan Learning Institute, Inc.||NY||Nov 15, 2014||$52,500|
|World Language Instructor||Washington Academy of Languages||Seattle, WA||Jan 17, 2011||$52,175 -
|Japanese Language Instructor||Lingua Science Corporation||Ann Arbor, MI||Sep 10, 2013||$44,000|
|Instructor of Arabic Language||University of Oregon||Eugene, OR||May 03, 2012||$44,000|
|Instructor of Arabic Language||University of Oregon||Eugene, OR||Jun 16, 2012||$44,000|
|Instructor of Modern Languages||University of Louisville||Louisville, KY||Jul 01, 2012||$43,652|
|French & Japanese Languages Instructor||Saluga, LLC||Lantana, TX||Oct 01, 2012||$43,534|
|Instructor of Arabic Language||University of Oregon||Eugene, OR||Sep 16, 2012||$43,380|
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