How to Become a Community College Professor
Students wondering how to become a professor at a local, 2-year community college, or junior college, should keep in mind that requirements vary by institution. However, many of the requirements for community college professors are the same as other postsecondary teachers and usually include formal education, experience, and/or certification. These qualifications may allow students to teach on-campus or become an online professor. Learn more about how to become a professor in the steps outlined below.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Aspiring professors must first earn a bachelor's degree. This degree may be in any number of fields but should help prepare students for their career goal of teaching in a particular subject. For example, a student wishing to someday teach college-level biology may be a biology major or at least earn a degree in a life science. Bachelor's degree programs are typically 4 years in length and may be offered in on-campus or online formats.
Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
Unlike professors at 4-year institutions, most community college professors only need a master's degree. A master's degree may also be sufficient for some teaching positions at 4-year institutions, depending on the subject and/or if it is a part-time position.
Aspiring professors for community colleges should pursue a master's degree in the subject area that they wish to teach. Master's degree programs commonly take 2-years to complete and may require a thesis. Many master's degree programs are available in online formats in addition to traditional, on-campus education.
Although it is not typically required at the community college level, some students may choose to pursue doctoral study in their field of interest to be more competitive. This would also allow professors to move to a 4-year institution in the future if they so choose, as many 4-year colleges require professors to hold a PhD in their area of expertise.
Step 3: Obtain Work Experience/Certification
Depending on the subject that they teach, some community college professors may need to have prior work experience or professional certification in their field. For example, those in the health industry may need to have hands-on experience to teach, such as experience as a dental hygienist. Another example is a school that prefers professors teaching a subject like accounting to become a CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, through the certification process before teaching.
Step 4: Begin Teaching at a Community College
After applying and being hired to teach at a community college, professors may continue to gain experience teaching a range of courses in their area of expertise. Professors are typically responsible for creating lesson plans and assignments for each course that they teach and being available to assist students. It is also important that, even while they are teaching, professors are staying updated on current developments in their field to provide students with current information.
Postsecondary teachers may begin teaching as part-time or adjunct faculty members. Over time, they may advance to full-time positions and continue from assistant professor to associate professor to professor.
Community College Professor Salary
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for postsecondary teachers who worked at junior colleges was $80,620. Junior college professors made up 7.42% of the industry employment, which equated to 53,480 jobs.