Professor lectures to postsecondary education students
Teaching Careers Updated March 20, 2018

Postsecondary Education Teacher: Career, Pay, Education

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

Well-trained teachers arrive in the classroom schooled in pedagogy, educational theory and a range of specific skills they need to help students learn. They get that training from postsecondary education teachers.

If you want to dedicate your career to preparing future generations of educators, you should consider becoming a postsecondary education teacher. Each teacher-in-training you help will in turn teach hundreds or even thousands of students, ensuring your work reverberates across our society for decades to come.

This guide provides an overview of what it takes to become a postsecondary education teacher, including the prerequisite education, likely income, and advantages and disadvantages of this career. Browse through the article or use the following links to skip forward to what you’re looking for:

At-a-glance
> Postsecondary education teacher job description
> Who makes a good postsecondary education teacher?

In-depth
> What postsecondary education teachers do
> Types of teacher education
> Where postsecondary education teachers work
> Job certification requirements and degree prerequisites
> Income projections
> Pros and cons of being an education teacher

Professional development
> What kinds of programs can help postsecondary education teachers?

Related careers
> Jobs beyond teaching

Best of the web
> Sites and Twitter handles to follow

At-a-glance: postsecondary education teachers

Postsecondary education teacher
Minimum education Master’s or doctorate
Estimated annual income $62,520 (BLS)
$80,490 (Recruiter.com)
$52,800 (CareerProfiles.info)
$58,958 (PayScale.com)

Postsecondary education teacher job description

Postsecondary education teachers train the next generation of teachers. Their primary duties involve teaching their students pedagogical theory and practical teaching techniques. They may also teach courses on child or adolescent psychology.

They work for public and private colleges and universities. Some work online in distance-learning programs. At the university level, they may also research the effectiveness of pedagogical techniques using surveys, direct observations and interviews. They may analyze data gathered by others.

You will probably need an advanced degree in education to get hired as a postsecondary education teacher. Common degrees for this job include master’s in education (MEd) and doctorate of education (EdD).

Full-time postsecondary education teachers typically enjoy paid holidays and vacations in addition to pensions and health insurance. Part-time and adjunct education teachers, by contrast, often earn less pay and get few benefits.

Who makes a good postsecondary education teacher?

Someone who is:

  • Sociable and easy to talk to
  • Patient and resourceful
  • Good at motivating and inspiring students
  • Organized and careful about time management
  • Devoted to learning
  • Thoughtful about interacting with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Passionate about connecting with students and other teachers
  • Attentive to details
  • A lover of reading
  • Able to laugh and have a sense of humor
  • Analytical and curious
  • Skillful in managing discussion and dialogue
  • Comfortable with complex subject matter
  • Able to express ideas precisely in writing
  • Qualified with an advanced degree in an education-related field

Interested in becoming a postsecondary education teacher?

Check out this video to learn more about pedagogy and what’s involved in teaching teachers.

In-depth: postsecondary education teachers

What postsecondary education teachers do

Postsecondary education teachers lead their students in the study of pedagogy, which is the method and practice of teaching and education. By examining what we know about how people learn and exploring the best-known teaching practices, education students can become great teachers in any subject. Your job is to help your students understand what it takes to teach effectively.

Postsecondary education teachers’ responsibilities usually include:

  • Teaching introductory and general pedagogy
  • Teaching advanced or specialized pedagogy
  • Setting instructional objectives for each course
  • Creating and updating the curriculum and each course’s syllabus, content and instructional methods
  • Lecturing students on pedagogy and teaching methods
  • Moderating classroom discussions
  • Obtaining materials and supplies such as textbooks
  • Assembling course materials such as homework assignments and handouts
  • Supervising student research projects
  • Grading students’ exams, quizzes, homework and papers
  • Maintaining regular office hours to answer questions and provide guidance
  • Advising students on appropriate coursework

Some jobs require additional responsibilities, such as selecting and leading a team of teaching assistants who take on some of your instructional duties.

If you work in a research university, you’ll be expected to conduct original research in a specialized area of pedagogy and education studies. Let’s take a look at the research responsibilities of university-level education teachers in more detail.

Research

An education teacher’s research duties usually include:

  • Contributing to the field of pedagogy and educator training
  • Performing quantitative and qualitative research
  • Applying for grants from foundations, governments and businesses
  • Establishing and leading a team of research assistants
  • Doing fieldwork in schools
  • Interviewing teachers and students
  • Creating and sending out surveys
  • Analyzing data and developing theories based on it
  • Writing articles, books or other original materials based on research findings
  • Reading extensively to keep up with changes in pedagogy and education
  • Supervising student research projects

Types of teacher education

While some courses focus on general or universal pedagogical techniques, teacher training is often subdivided based on the age group or grade level of the students the teacher is expected to teach. Here are the five common categories of teacher education/training:

  • Early childhood teacher education
  • Elementary and middle school teacher education
  • Secondary school teacher education
  • Higher education teacher training
  • Vocational teacher training

As a postsecondary education teacher, you may specialize in one of these categories of teacher education/training or you may work across categories. For example, you may mainly teach courses and/or conduct research in early childhood pedagogy. Therefore, your focus would be on training teachers to teach kindergarten and preschool. Or you may teach general and introductory courses in pedagogy, and a mix of more advanced courses in secondary and elementary school teaching.

Where postsecondary education teachers work

Postsecondary education teachers usually work for:

  • Community colleges and other two-year programs conferring associate degrees
  • Four-year colleges and universities offering undergraduate degrees in education
  • Research universities with undergraduate and graduate-level education programs
  • Teacher training and credentialing programs
  • Think tanks and other research institutions
  • Education consulting firms

Your specific responsibilities will vary depending on the goals and operations of your employer. For example, certain universities may expect you to focus on research in addition to teaching, whereas a community college or specialized teacher-training and credentialing program may have you focus exclusively on teaching.

Education and certification requirements

For most postsecondary education teaching jobs, the minimum requirement is a master’s degree (MEd) or a doctorate (EdD) in education. If you want to work as a postsecondary education teacher for a four-year college or university, you will probably need a doctorate in your field. However, some programs hire doctoral candidates or people with master’s degrees, especially for part-time positions.

Many colleges and programs also require postsecondary education teachers to have two or more years of hands-on classroom teaching experience in K-12 schools.

Getting hired as a full-time tenured faculty member at a research university is extremely competitive. You will probably need to publish research in a respected academic journal and earn the respect and admiration of your peers before entering the full-time tenured faculty.

Income projections

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and a handful of career-related websites offer average salary estimates for postsecondary education teachers.

  • BLS: $62,520
  • Recruiter.com: $80,490
  • CareerProfiles.info: $52,800
  • PayScale.com: $58,958

Full-time faculty generally command higher salaries than adjunct instructors, who are usually paid by the course and don’t always receive benefits. For more about the difference between full-time faculty and adjunct instructors at the community college level, check out our article on community college instructors.

Pros and cons of being a postsecondary education teacher

Consider both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming an education professor at a four-year college or university.

Pros

  • Teach students who are dynamic, enthusiastic and eager to become great teachers
  • Opportunity to conduct research in addition to teaching
  • Often flexible hours and opportunities to take time off
  • Many full-time jobs come with good benefits
  • Potential to earn job security via tenure
  • Higher pay on average than K-12 teaching jobs
  • Opportunity to publish research findings in prestigious journals and books
  • May be able to take on a leadership role at a college or university

Cons

  • Many years of expensive advanced education are required
  • May be responsible for joining a committee and attending many extra meetings and professional events
  • Can be frustrating to work within bureaucratic institutions like colleges and universities
  • Academia can be highly competitive and exhausting, with a “publish-or-perish” norm
  • Many postsecondary education teaching positions are adjunct, meaning lower pay, few benefits and little job security

Professional development for postsecondary education teachers

Postsecondary education teachers have excellent opportunities for professional development. Completing a teaching internship or education research fellowship will give prospective postsecondary education teachers a good start to a career in education research.

You should also consider getting involved in a teacher educator professional organization, such as the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE). Professional organizations keep you informed about the latest trends in pedagogy and give you access to networking opportunities. Attending conferences hosted by these associations and other organizations focused on education can be a great way to expand your professional network and learn about effective teaching methodologies.

In addition, you can improve your career prospects and develop your skills and connections by taking new courses, attending workshops and meetings, and pursuing an advanced degree in an education-related field that matches your interests.

Benefits of continuing education

To become a postsecondary education teacher, you will need to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate. Deciding on degree type and specialty is very important, so put in time and effort researching the program that works best for you.

What kinds of programs can help postsecondary education teachers?

Concordia University-Portland offers an online EdD in Higher Education program tailored to the needs of a prospective postsecondary education teacher. If you want to learn how to teach other teachers, many degrees and specializations may work well for your professional times. Take some time to browse your options.

Jobs for postsecondary education teachers beyond teaching

With additional education or certification, postsecondary education teachers may become librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals or an educational administrator at a college or university.

Librarian: A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is generally required for employment. Some states also require librarians to pass a standardized test.

Instructional coordinator: Instructional coordinators generally need to complete a master’s degree related to a subject like curriculum and instruction, and they may be required to have a teaching or educational administrator license.

Academic advisor: With a master’s degree in an education-related field, you can transition into being an academic advisor at either the K-12 or college/university level.

Education consultant: Postsecondary education teachers can become education consultants if they want to tackle challenges in a variety of schools and education systems. You’ll probably need an advanced degree in an education-related subject.

Education policy analyst: With an advanced degree in an education-related subject, postsecondary education teachers can become policy analysts and examine big-picture issues affecting education nationwide.

School principal: Postsecondary education teachers wishing to become a school principal should seriously consider earning a master’s degree in an education-related field. Most states also require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators.

Educational administrator: For a higher-level position such as dean or president, a master’s degree or doctorate in educational leadership may be required.

Best of the web: our favorite postsecondary education teacher blogs, websites and Twitter handles

The web makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent education teachers and scholars. Here is a list of our favorite websites and Twitter handles, in no particular order.

Favorite postsecondary education websites and blogs

Favorite postsecondary education Twitter handles

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