How to Become a Community College Teacher
Explore the requirements to become a community college teacher. Learn about entry requirements, salary and career progression to determine whether this is the right profession for you.
Career Information at a Glance
Community college teachers teach specialized courses beyond the high school level that usually result in associate degrees or diplomas. Most teachers at this level work within one department, for example humanities, and may teach several courses within their department.
Also known as postsecondary teachers, these professionals are required to impart relevant knowledge to their students and use a range of teaching methods to ensure that they are ready to take their exams and move forward with their education or career. In order to achieve this, community college teachers create course outlines and prepare lectures, assignments and exams that will increase students' understanding of the subject. Community college teachers may also conduct some research in their subject area.
Take a look at the chart below for an overview of how to enter this field.
|Degree Required||Master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Relevant to your field of teaching|
|Training Required||Not always required, but hands-on experience in your specialized field is sometimes preferred|
|Certification and/or Licensure||May be needed for certain subject areas|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||11% (for all postsecondary teachers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$78,470 (for all postsecondary teachers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Can I Become a Community College Teacher?
Community college teachers usually need a master's degree in the subject relevant to the one they would like to teach. To get a master's degree, you must already have a bachelor's (undergraduate) degree. Master's degree curricula usually last one or two years, depending on the courses and subject area, and can sometimes be completed on a part-time basis.
Some colleges may also require or prefer relevant work experience in the field you wish to teach. For example, if you would like to teach health science, you will be at an advantage if you have previous experience working in this industry. If you are teaching a subject that requires a license, you may be required to hold the same license yourself. For example, when teaching nursing you may need a nursing license.
What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?
The median salary for postsecondary teachers was $78,470 per year as of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure changes depending on the subject area they teach.
For example, individuals who taught criminal justice and law enforcement earned median salaries of around $61,900 per year, whereas health specialties teachers earned closer to $97,370 per year. The salaries of business, biology and computer science teachers fell somewhere in the middle of these two figures.
Though community college teachers often work part-time, landing a full-time position often comes with job security and other benefits, such as paid leave and health insurance.
What Soft Skills Do I Need?
It almost goes without saying that a passion for your subject and a love for learning will help you enjoy this career.
Great social skills and a high level of empathy are also qualities found in the most successful community college teachers. As the role requires interacting with a diverse range of people on a daily basis, being able to easily make a connection with others can be an important factor.
Organizational skills are also valuable in this role. Teachers may conduct several different classes each semester, so being able to manage all teaching materials and keep track of student work is important.
What Professional Development Opportunities Are Offered?
Most subject areas are well-researched, which means that there is always something new to learn about your own specialty. There are opportunities for community college teachers to take courses that further their understanding of their field and keep them informed of new findings.
Community college teachers can also further their education by earning a PhD. This will widen professional opportunities within postsecondary education because doctoral degree holders are eligible to work at 4-year colleges.
What Are Similar Career Options?
Individuals interested in becoming community college teachers may also be interested in working as an instructional coordinator or postsecondary education administrator.
An instructional coordinator develops materials for teachers to use and oversees their effectiveness. They work with other education professionals to ensure that teaching standards are upheld.
Postsecondary education administrators often work in either admissions or registration. Those in admissions are responsible for taking all factors into account, and liaising with colleagues, when deciding whether a student should join the school. For those in registration, their main role is to manage the records of existing students.