What are the Different Adjunct Jobs?

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  • Written By: Jess Rummins
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2018
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Most adjunct jobs involve teaching in a particular area of expertise. Adjunct positions run the gamut from CAD design to basic English skills instruction. Some adjunct jobs require advanced college degrees while others are focused on highly specialized experience. Most major universities, community colleges, trade schools, technical programs, and virtual institutions rely on adjunct faculty to help round out their programs.

Adjunct jobs do not necessarily lead to full-time employment. Generally, teachers progress from single contracted assignments as adjunct instructors to ongoing employment as part-time adjunct professors. Online adjuncts typically have more scheduling flexibility but less physical presence on campus. This can limit opportunities to advance or seek out different adjunct jobs.

Universities usually offer only a limited number of adjunct consulting, teaching, and research positions. The jobs are rarely advertised. Teachers, social workers, psychologists, and other human services workers who already are employed are often asked to supervise field experiences for students. Sometimes retirees will be asked to oversee internships in the human services and social sciences. In both of these cases, the emphasis is more on consulting and communication than teaching in a classroom.

To seek adjunct employment at a major university, it is usually necessary to have what is called a terminal degree in the field of study. That means that one should have the highest degree possible – usually a Ph.D. – in any given field. In certain instances, master’s degrees are acceptable.


Adjunct teaching positions at universities may be available in the fine arts, foreign languages, and literature studies. There typically are fewer adjunct teaching jobs in science, mathematics, and engineering. Adjunct jobs in research in these areas, especially in the agriculture and horticultural fields, usually are much more common.

Community colleges and technical institutions typically offer more variety in adjunct jobs. In these cases, all relevant advanced experience typically is valuable. Adjunct positions still require strong qualifications, but experience can count as much as a degree. It is necessary to have an advanced degree in some areas, but not all. These institutions often provide training and professional development to all their adjunct instructors.

Many of the open positions at community colleges are for classroom teaching. They usually involve only one or two classes per term. Courses are often taught in the evening or on weekends. Adjunct teaching areas can include skilled trades, design, information technology, mechanics, engineering, foreign language, science, math, social sciences, humanities, English, and developmental study skills. Almost any course offered at a community college could be taught by an adjunct professor.

Alternate delivery systems are a new development in adjunct employment. Universities, colleges, trade schools, and technical institutions are beginning to seek out online adjunct instructors. These adjunct jobs tend to be more focused on traditional content areas like English, social science, and the humanities. This is because much of the content must be delivered in written format. Online positions will still require the same qualifications as those in the face-to-face classroom.

Sharing expertise in the fine and applied arts is a more creative option for adjunct employment. Many teachers who began teaching ceramics, visual arts, theater, music, or choir in community education can translate that experience into adjunct employment at other institutions. Most often, adjunct teaching is a challenging and rewarding part-time endeavor. Some teachers combine several adjunct jobs at different institutions, finding the variety stimulating. Adjunct positions can be excellent ways for dedicated teachers to share knowledge and experience.



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