What Is the Average Salary of a College Instructor?

Field of study and type of employer are two factors that affect the average salary of a college instructor. Keep reading to learn more about what you could earn in a postsecondary teaching position. Schools offering Adult Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Based on Subject

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average salary for all postsecondary instructors was $74,620 as of May 2013; however, this can vary greatly depending on the field of study that you teach (www.bls.gov). The graphs below detail some of the highest- and lowest-paying fields for college instructors, based on May 2013 BLS figures:

High-Paying Fields of Study

Subject Average Yearly Salary
Law $122,280
Health Specialties $105,880
Engineering $102,880

Lower-Paying Fields of Study

Subject Average Yearly Salary
Vocational Education $52,680
Recreation and Fitness Studies $63,770
Education $65,630

Other Factors that Affect Salary

The BLS also notes that where you teach can affect how much you make as a college instructor. For example, an instructor at a 4-year college or university or a professional school typically earns more than an instructor at a community or junior college. Also, college instructors are increasingly being employed on a part-time rather than full-time basis. In these instances, instructors sometimes opt to teach at more than one institution to earn the equivalent of full-time pay, but this can leave them without full-time benefits, like insurance and paid vacation.

Education Recommendations

If you intend to teach at a 4-year college or university, you'll typically need to earn a doctorate. Some schools hire instructors who only hold a master's degree, but these instances are the exception rather than the rule. If you have a master's degree, you might instead consider teaching at a 2-year institution.

If you're looking for a tenured teaching position at a university, you can expect competition, and you'll likely need extensive experience; in the meantime, you might opt for a non-tenure-track or part-time position, which can help you gain valuable teaching experience in a college setting. Students who are working on their doctoral degrees might find part-time or temporary jobs as teaching assistants.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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