The minimum requirement for teaching at most community colleges is a master's degree. While there are some exceptions, both lesser degree requirements or more, this level of education can help you get your foot in the door. However, previous teaching experience and experience working with adults or college students is highly desired. Add teaching experience to your resume while you earn your master's degree by applying for teaching assistant positions or other on-campus academic jobs to be competitive.
Learn about community colleges long before you apply for a job -- while you are in graduate school would be a good time to start. Unlike the institutions that grant master's degrees or place high value on research, community colleges are focused on undergraduates in their first two years of study. Priority is on teaching and instruction; find ways to show you share this passion for teaching students, not just the subject matter.
Volunteer at a community college or get involved with community service programs. The time you spend in these positions helps you get to know the community college culture and also gets you in the door. The spirit of community colleges is a culture of service; getting involved puts you on the schools' radar.
Get classroom teaching experience. If you can't find your dream job right away, start where you can and build from there. If you are unable to get into the college-level classroom, look for substitute teaching opportunities at local high schools, or search for temporary work at adult basic education centers. Always be on the lookout for classroom experience available on campus while you are in school, such as graduate teaching assistants or lab instructor positions.
Learn distance-learning software programs and get some experience in this market. Learn a learning management system on your own time -- such as Blackboard or CCNet -- or by adding an online supplement to a traditional classroom. Take advantage of any professional development opportunities you have access to to expand your distance-learning technology skills. Better yet, apply for a part-time teaching job with an online college.
Double-major at the graduate level to open yourself up to more subjects, and more potential for teaching jobs. Having a master's degree in a subject opens up that field for teaching at the community college level; having two master's degree in different subjects opens up two fields for teaching.
Make the most of each teaching experience. Project confidence and consistency when interacting with students and colleagues. Just because you are new or feel less-qualified than a seasoned instructor doesn't mean you have to act it. Set your boundaries and enforce them, maintaining professional working relationships while still connecting with the community college spirit of teaching freshmen and sophomores.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Community-College Job Search
- Modern Language Association: A Community College Teaching Career
- American Astronomical Society: More Community Colleges Push to Hire PhD's
- Inside Higher Ed: Writing a Cover Letter for a Community College Job
- Teaching in Higher Ed: Jobs in Higher Ed
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: Tips for New Teachers at Community Colleges
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.