Born to Teach?
July 12, 2010 7:11 AM   Subscribe

How do I become a college instructor?

I work in the technical side of television and I'm interested in getting a job teaching at a college. I have always enjoyed teaching others at work, and I think I would make a good instructor for a college broadcasting program. I have a B.S. in a related field, but not broadcasting specifically, and about 10 years of on the job experience in a variety of roles in the industry.

How do I go about this? Do I start cold calling my local colleges looking for an adjunct job? Do I need to get any sort of further degree?
posted by soy_renfield to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at local community colleges' websites. They'll have a list of career openings, including adjunct positions, which will include desired qualifications.

A word of warning: most of these positions are going to require some sort of advanced degree, though a masters' or professional degree is sufficient a lot of the time. But a BS is not likely to cut it.
posted by valkyryn at 7:14 AM on July 12, 2010

I'd say the easiest way to get into teaching at the college level would be to enroll in grad school and get a TA gig. I suspect not any/many colleges would be interested in an instructor with just a B.S. unless they were uber-important/famous.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:15 AM on July 12, 2010

Make contact with professors currently teaching in the field you're interested in. Offer to come in and guest lecture. Offer to be a resource for students looking for information on the field. Offer to sit on the department advisory board, if they have one. Attend conferences and get to know professors, or other people in your industry that you can call on as resources. Make yourself known and make yourself valuable by bringing your industry knowledge and contacts to the table. Let everyone know you're interested in teaching.

At some point you'll have to get at least a master's degree*, but if you have specialized knowledge, and/or experience in a highly sought after field, you'll probably be able to start as an adjunct. And if you prove yourself as an adjunct, you'll have an in, should a full-time job open up.

*Some schools require a degree in the specific area you'll teach in, and some don't care, as long as you have the degree.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:33 AM on July 12, 2010

Start with community colleges, as valkryn said. Depending on the school and how badly they need instructors in the program, it may be possible to teach in your field with a BA and experience. I just scrolled through the current job listings at my local community college, where I taught as a adjunct for many years, and many positions list "BA or equivalent experience in the field" as a requirement.
posted by not that girl at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2010

There is adjunct work to be found right now because budget tightening usually means putting off hiring full-time faculty. That said, start looking at community colleges now to start building your C.V.
In the meantime, start earning some graduate credits or enroll full time and work your way toward a MA/MS or, preferably, an MFA since it is considered a terminal degree in some fields and is valued more than a Master's in a field where you can go on to a PhD.
You'll probably start off with teaching one class, but if you network enough and keep your ear to the ground that can lead to.. well, even MORE adjunct work and something full time (if you're lucky).
posted by starman at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2010

There maybe some exceptions. But, in general, any accredited academic program (i.e. something leading to an associate or bachelor's degree, or something intended to transfer to another school for the same) is going to require an instructor to have 18 hours beyond the requirements for your BA in the field you're teaching or something closely related. Most master's programs are around 30 hours. So, you need about half of a master's degree.

However, if the school has certificate programs (and most colleges do, generally through their "continuing education" divisions), then experience will often be sufficient, as those programs are generally certified, if at all, through software vendors and such rather than through regional accreditation bodies. And they don't generally offer credits that are transferable.
posted by wheat at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

"most of these positions are going to require some sort of advanced degree, though a masters' or professional degree is sufficient a lot of the time. But a BS is not likely to cut it."

To second this, our regional accrediting body that accredits the CC where I adjunct has been tightening up its degree requirements (even for adjuncts) and they are no longer hiring with a bachelor's even into adjunct positions, and have starkly limited the positions they're hiring people with "experience in the field" into (Which had been one of their big selling points in the more career-oriented programs.) unless they also have advanced degrees.

Full time faculty now must have doctorates and they've tightened up on the "related fields" as well.

Of course they can well afford to do all this given that there's such a massive glut of people wanting to teach that this dinky rural CC got more than 100 Ph.D.-having applications for a single position last year.

Obviously this will vary based on where you are and I don't know anything about broadcasting specifically, but college teaching is a pretty glutted field where supply is way, way ahead of demand.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:21 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

There might be stringent requirements for the kind of degree that you will need to teach in a college classroom. However, if you have practical skills to teach, you might be able to get a job in a lab or studio setting on the virtue of your technical or professional skills. So keep an eye out for more technical or administrative jobs on community college websites.
posted by pickypicky at 10:29 AM on July 12, 2010

Honestly, it's probably best simply to drop this idea immediately. Teaching college courses as a sideline, a fun hobby, a lifestyle choice, or an ego-boost is not likely to be a viable option in an academic economy where hordes of PhDs, with years of training and qualifications that you don't have, are going begging. You may be able to find occasional work as an adjunct instructor of broadcasting or video production at your local community colleges. Nearly all institutions have their current job listings online — you can just visit their HR/employment website and see what openings they're advertising, and what qualifications they require. But outside of a directly vocational-tracked community college TV-broadcasting program, and probably even there unless you live in a remote area, even those vocational courses are very likely to be taught by degreed, well-published faculty of film/video studies.
posted by RogerB at 10:30 AM on July 12, 2010

Wheat has it right: For most postsecondary institutions, in most subjects, you'll need at least 18 graduate semester hours of study beyond the undergraduate level to be able to teach.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2010

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