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How Do I Get Started in Adjunct Teaching?

An adjunct professor teaching students.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2014
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Adjunct teaching can occur at a number of levels. Many times adjunct teachers are instructors for one or two classes at the college level, but some may also teach a couple of classes at high schools or junior highs. This work is considered adjunct because the teachers do not have the rights accorded to other employees that are hired on a permanent full or part-time basis. There are many different ways to get into this type of work, but they begin with having the appropriate education or credentials.

At the secondary school level, the teacher almost always needs to possess a valid teaching credential for the region. A few exceptions might exist for subjects in which a credential cannot be earned, such as perhaps technical or food science subjects. Additionally, private schools may not exert this requirement and might not need to in order to be in compliance with regional laws.

In college, most people will need to have, at minimum, a master’s degree to get an adjunct teaching position. There may be exceptions to this policy too. Sometimes colleges hire their current master’s or doctoral students as adjunct faculty. Most times, a person who has no present relationship to the employer will need to be able to show proof of competency through master or doctoral degrees.

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When people have completed the necessary education requirements, there are several ways to look for adjunct teaching positions. Some job boards exist online that may advertise these positions in a variety of locations. Not all schools use these, and another way to approach the search is to look at job postings for each individual school or college. Most schools have an office or an employment center that keeps track of all postings and makes them available to interested parties.

Drawing up a map of potential employers within a specific area and then contacting each of these could say more about what adjunct jobs are really available locally. Yet it’s important to note that these may be advertised and not really exist. Sometimes schools think they may need one or two more sections of a class, but they make their final decision after enrollment or when a school year starts. Jobs that seem to be there may disappear.

Decisions about adjunct teaching jobs can also be made just as a school year begins, and people interested in this work are better off if they can be available quickly. Even with research, the adjunct teacher may really never have an advanced schedule, and may have to scramble for work at the last minute. Still, people like the flexibility of this work.

To remain in the adjunct teaching field, it helps to be proficient, to perform work well, and to make lasting connections with temporary employers. Even if the teacher won’t be teaching at a college or high school again, it’s a good idea to get references as this can make it easier to find work the next semester or school year. Another reason this can be important is if the teacher wants to look for more permanent work in the future. Establishing excellent working relations with temporary employers is highly useful if applying for faculty positions later.

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