Community College Teacher Certification Requirements and Information

Dec 11, 2019

Community college teachers are highly educated in the subject they instruct. As a result, they're typically required to have a master's degree in their discipline. Certification isn't required, but teaching experience may be an asset.

Essential Information

Community college teachers are professors and instructors who work at the postsecondary level, teaching in 2-year college settings. Unlike professors, who work in 4-year colleges and universities, the focus for these professionals is more often on teaching, with less emphasis on research and publication. Most community colleges require teachers to have a master's degree or at least graduate study in the subject to be taught. Certification as a community college teacher is not required by state law, but it is helpful for those who do not have teaching experience.

Required Education Most community colleges require a master's degree
Certification Not required by state law
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% (all postsecondary teachers)
Average Annual Salary (2018)* $80,620 (all postsecondary teachers at junior colleges)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Similar to other teachers, a certain amount of community college teachers' effort goes into curriculum planning, class preparation, student evaluation and responding to student inquiries. Teachers at the post-secondary level also must remain current in their fields, and for this reason they sometimes perform research, engage in discussion with colleagues and attend academic conferences. Course loads for community college teachers are often higher than those for teachers in 4-year institutions, because their research requirements tend to be lower.

Education Requirements

Teaching at the community college level generally requires at least a bachelor's degree with additional graduate-level coursework in the area to be taught. Most 2-year colleges prefer to hire teachers who hold at least a master's degree in relevant subject matter, and some look for qualified instructors with doctorates in the appropriate fields.

Certification Requirements

Community college teachers do not have state-mandated requirements for teaching certification. Some schools may require specific coursework in education, but they generally look for work experience as proof of teaching competency. For that reason, teaching experience during graduate programs, including work as a teaching assistant, may prove useful for those pursuing a career as a community college teacher.

Certificate Overview

Some schools are now offering graduate-level certificates for community college teachers looking for a formal grounding in educational theory. These certificate programs may be partially or completely offered online and are in addition to graduate work completed in the field of study.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the number of positions for available for postsecondary teachers, a classification of which community college teachers are a subset, would increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028. This growth is attributed to both population growth and increased demand, because a greater number of students are anticipated to seek post-secondary education. The compensation for community college teachers varies widely based on specialty, geography and level of education. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for the field of junior college teachers in 2018 was $80,620, but pay varies widely. The BLS reports the salary of postsecondary teachers working at local junior colleges was $83,530, and those working at state junior colleges was $56,930, that year.

Community colleges employ teachers who are highly educated in their discipline, and typically require their instructors to possess a master's degree in their field. Community college teachers instruct postsecondary students at 2-year colleges. Teaching is their primary focus, and although certification isn't required, prior teaching experience is beneficial to those seeking to enter this job market.

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