There are Many Alternatives to Teaching at a 4-Year Institution

With today’s tight job market, many qualified educators are not finding full time academic positions at 4-year colleges and universities. One very viable alternative is teaching at the community college level.  The experience may be quite rewarding. This is not to say that a community college career is for everyone. Community colleges enroll a large percentage of undergraduate students, offering nearly half of the academic teaching positions.

You may teach up to 5 courses per semester to freshmen and sophomores and have little or no time for research.  Because community colleges educate so many students, the role of their professors is critical in order properly educate the leaders of tomorrow.  Community colleges can provide an academic career rich in educational opportunities and growth. Schools that offer tenure often require you to do a good job teaching for 3-5 years, serve on committees, and get your professional development hours in every year. Since most community colleges are run by the state, the salaries can compare to regional universities. You often enjoy the same benefit package offered to the state university faculty members.  Be aware that accrediting agencies often require faculty to have at least a master’s degree with 18 graduate credits in the field you will be teaching.

Not everyone will get academic positions at universities, but many of us can benefit from investigating faculty positions at community colleges.


Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta.

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