How do I get Started Teaching Ethics?

Carol Francois

People with expertise in legal, medical, philosophical or moral issues may be interested in teaching ethics. Ethics is the series of processes and guidelines that have been developed to manage human behavior. It typically is applicable in situations where right and wrong are unclear, and a range of options are available.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

A first step is to determine where you would like to start teaching ethics classes. Required qualifications usually depend upon the type of institution or location where you are interested in teaching ethics classes. For example, a university medical school will have specific academic credentials and experience requirements that must be met. A private philosophy school, however, typically will have different requirements.

The next step is to ensure that you have the appropriate credentials for this type of position. There are two reasons that people take ethics courses: professional requirement and personal interest. People who need to complete the course for a certification will require that the instructor have a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited university, in addition to training in ethics that are specific to each industry.

For people who are taking an ethics course out of personal interest, the level of experience may be more relevant than academic credentials. In many cases, people who are teaching ethics courses may have an extensive career in the law or medical field. There are a range of seminars or certificate programs that focus on ethics in both everyday life and in a professional context.

Positions teaching ethics courses are available in the post-secondary education sector, from professional associations, conferences, and continuing education programs. Contact the human resources offices at these different institutions to discuss the possibilities for teaching ethics classes. A great way to identify schools that are offering these types of classes is to look at course syllabuses for the previous year.

Extensive professional experience also is necessary in the profession of choice. For example, the candidate usually is expected to have a minimum of 15 to 18 years of experience in his or her area of expertise. Most firms look for instructors who have published significant work in the field over a period of time.

Once you have starting teaching ethics, it can be very important to maintain research and publication at a consistent rate. This work can mirror the subjects discussed in the classes, and can be used to reinforce the learning points. It is important to note that these types of positions often are short-term contracts and must be supplemented by additional efforts.

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