With the growing number of non-traditional students returning to college and more schools offering classes that fit into busy work schedules, adjunct professors are growing in number. Unlike tenured professors, adjuncts typically receive lower pay and no benefits. Becoming an adjunct professor may give an extra income boost as well as position you for a tenured position should the opportunity arise. Many adjunct professors have full-time jobs in addition to their part-time duties, which provide work experience and adds to their other skills.
In order to teach at the college level, an adjunct professor must possess at least a master's degree in the field she is instructing. Some colleges and universities require a doctorate for the position. Adjunct professors who wish to teach graduate level courses need a Ph.D. Vocational schools, community colleges and some online universities will hire adjunct teachers who have a master's degree or just a bachelor's degree depending on the subject.
The general rule of thumb is that you can teach one level lower than your degree. This means that someone with a bachelor's degree can teach an associate level class and so on. A small number of colleges and universities may require a teaching certificate. Many schools require that adjuncts have work experience in addition to the educational requirements.
Adjunct professors are unique in that they often move from campus to campus. Many do this in an attempt to work enough hours for a respectable paycheck. Others work on multiple campuses because they are authorities in a particular field that makes them desirable.
Adjuncts must be flexible enough in their schedules to adapt to campus needs and to go where the work is. They also must be organized, because carrying a roster of classes is difficult enough, but doing so at multiple schools is even more difficult. Most schools do not have official work space for adjuncts, so they have to be creative in coming up with places to store files and meet with students.
If speaking in front of an audience gives you an anxiety attack, then adjunct teaching is not for you. An adjunct professor needs to be adept at speaking in front of diverse groups of people. It helps to have a good speaking voice and be able to project so those in the back of the classroom can hear you.
It is also beneficial to have some experience training or educating others. In addition to teaching in the classroom, adjuncts work with students one on one, so having people skills is essential. Adjuncts must also possess superior evaluation skills, since their jobs depend on critiquing and grading students.
Ask if you're a chatty Cathy or do you prefer to work alone. Depending on how you answer determines if you have some of the skills to be an adjunct. Being an adjunct professor requires you to be a self-starter and work independently.
Adjuncts often work varying class schedules, which doesn't allow for socializing with other teachers. University staff meetings typically do not include the adjunct staff so they may feel left out. With today’s classrooms extending to an online environment, some adjunct professors never see the student’s they teach. Planning skills and presentation skills working with PowerPoint are often requirements for adjunct professors.
Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.