Adjunct professors are part-time postsecondary teachers, who work to teach, not to acquire tenure. Also known as contingent professors, their duties are mostly to teach, without the added responsibilities and requirements of full-time professors. Tenured and full-time professors attend many meetings, conduct research, and must remain published.
Why Become An Adjunct Professor
For colleges and universities, adjunct professors fill a need by offering students high-quality instruction within the institution’s budgetary means. Because of their status, adjunct professors typically make far less than tenured professors; however, they have a lighter teaching load and work fewer hours.
Some of the duties and responsibilities of adjunct professors include directly instructing students, providing guidance and tutoring during non-instruction time, planning lectures and activities, assessing student progress and work, and meeting with other faculty members to discuss curriculum needs. The role of an adjunct professor is important to other people’s educational endeavors, and so they must have a variety of skills and traits that make them excellent mentors:
Knowledgeable of learning and subject material
Sensitive to cultural differences
Adjunct Professor Work Environment
Adjunct professors work any place that students attend postsecondary educational opportunities. The majority work for colleges, universities, and other schools for professionals. Some will work for community colleges, while even fewer work for business, computer, and trade schools. Because adjunct professors typically have only a master’s degree, they are more likely to teach freshmen and other incoming students who need entry-level courses.
Those who teach at this level are less likely to have their own offices; however, they do have access to school office space. Most of their work is in the classroom and at home (or where they choose to plan and grade). With the advent of online courses, many adjunct professors can work from their homes or offices, remotely.
Their classes may be held during the day, afternoons, or evenings. It is possible to teach during the summertime or weekends, depending on the type of school and student needs.
Adjunct Professor Salary
Adjunct professor salaries reflect the part-time nature of their work. According to an NPR report, the median annual salary of an adjunct professor is between $20,000 and $25,000. However, some surveys demonstrate that this occupation has wide-ranging salary offerings, anywhere from $31,000 to $65,000, per year, depending on educational level, subject, institution, and geographic location.
Adjunct Professor Career Outlook
College enrollment is at an all-time high, and schools are looking to fill faculty positions to meet their budgetary allowances. Adjunct professors are ideal choices for many types of institutions because of this need. For all postsecondary positions, the career outlook is good with prospective growth being at 19 percent in the next decade. Different subjects have different demands, so growth is also contingent on what is taught:
Biological science: 19 percent
Philosophy and religion: 19 percent
English and literature: 12 percent
Mathematical science: 11 percent
Adjunct Professor Degree
Adjunct professors must have at least a master’s degree in the subject area for which they would like to teach. It is possible that some community colleges offer positions for those with only a bachelor’s degree, as long as the candidate has experience in the field and with teaching.
Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree. Since the majority of positions require a master’s degree, there are no requirements for which type of bachelor’s program to enroll in; however, students will want to obtain a degree that is relevant to their future teaching and degree goals. Degrees in teaching are the most useful. Any undergraduate program will be sufficient. Students should be sure to take courses in communication, writing, reading, speaking, humanities, and social sciences.
Step 2: Obtain a master’s degree. In order to teach a specific subject, it is necessary that the candidate have a degree in that field. Work experience also helps when finding such a degree. If it is a primary goal to teach, then completing a graduate degree in teaching is the best course of action.