Q: I would like to get into college teaching, after several year in corporate life. I have no teaching experience but have made lots of presentation.
A. I’ve taught college level courses as full-time, tenured and adjunct faculty. I’ve taught online and offline, in classrooms and conference rooms. So I love this question.
(1) You absolutely need an advanced degree. To serve as an adjunct (a low-paid part-timer who teaches a course or two), you may get by with a masters degree. Junior colleges and community colleges typically hire teachers with just mastesr degrees, but they may also require credentials, certification and teaching experience. To make meaningful progress, you need a PhD.
(2) Make sure your degrees come from reputable, recognized schools. Don’t just go by accreditation. Call three or four colleges where you might like to teach. Ask if they consider faculty with degrees from BusyPeople University.
A quick degree from an online alternative university can seem like a great deal. For some students, it’s perfect. If you’re serious about college teaching, you need the strongest academic background you can get.
For tips on choosing a school, I’ve written Back to School for a Midlife Career.
(3) Choose your jobs wisely: you go down, not up.
In some fields, you start low and work up to the top. Broadcasters typically start in small towns and work up to major markets.
Universities work differently. It’s rare to move up — and almost impossible within the same school. If you accept a position as an adjunct professor, chances are you will be barred from consideration for a full-time position. The rules may be unwritten, but very powerful.