Adjunct professors are essentially part-time “resource” employees who teach at colleges or universities. The “as-needed” nature of the job makes them very useful and cost-effective for the schools who employ them. The lack of a long-term schedule and commitment gives the professor a flexibility that some desire. Often, adjunct professors will hold positions at multiple schools to get the amount of working hours they desire.
Education to become an adjunct professor
Becoming an adjunct professor is simple. Just follow the same steps you would when seeking any tenure-track professorial position in a university. The first step is, of course, to get a degree, and preferably an advanced one. While some trade schools and community colleges might hire an adjunct professor with a bachelor’s degree to teach lower level courses, universities will usually require a master degree or Ph.D. of their professors, including adjunct professors.
Other requirements for adjunct professors
Teaching experience is often a requirement for adjunct professors, but for some colleges and universities this can be satisfied through being a teacher assistant. Excellent communication skills are another requirement for adjunct professors, and without teaching experience, it can be difficult to show that your communication skills are sufficient. Membership in public speaking organizations or even theatrical experience can sometimes help in this area. In some cases, a college or university may ask you to give a sample lecture to prove that you can convey the necessary information in an engaging manner. Finally, as with most jobs these days, adjunct professors are expected to be familiar with modern technology. In fact, one could make the argument that adjunct professors need to be more tech savvy than full time professors because adjuncts may not have their own office and instead may need to utilize email, texting, social media and the telephonic means to stay in communication with their students.
The next step to follow if you want to know how to become an adjunct professor is to get your paperwork in order. Of course, this begins with your resume. You will need a hard copy and a digital version of your resume and you must make sure your resume is up to date with all of your latest academic and work-related accomplishments.
Be sure to have your other documentation ready as well. You should have copies of academic degrees you received, transcripts, reference letters, academic and professional awards and any certifications you may have. It’s also a good idea to scan these documents so that you can attach them to online applications.
The first thing to remember when doing a search for an adjunct professor job is to start local. There are probably more learning institutions near you than you think. Visits to a local colleges and universities teach you what to expect in an interview, even if they aren’t your ideal destination, so you can be better prepared when you do get interviewed for your dream job. Career colleges and technical schools hire adjunct professionals, too, and every major city has a few of them. If nothing else, getting experience at a less-prestigious school might get you the experience you need to get a better job later on. Once you’ve covered the local ground, start looking in cities you have always wanted to live in–maybe your dream job is waiting in this city. Don’t forget to use contacts and there is a good chance that someone you know knows someone who works at an institution which is looking for an adjunct professor.
To prepare yourself for the interview, do your homework. Know as much as you can about the school and the position offered. It’s also a good idea to go online and research popular interview questions so you aren’t caught off guard. Then learn to be patient. It may be months or even years before you get the job you want, but you need to keep trying. Keep looking for open positions and throwing your hat into the ring.
For some people, knowing how to become an adjunct professor will help them to eventually get a full time teaching position, For others, the flexibility of an adjunct professor makes that position the destination, not the road. Whatever your reason for wanting to become an adjunct professor, careful preparation, research and patience will help you to realize your goal.