College instructors can pursue options teaching at community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. Those who earn a master's degree and acquire teaching experience are ideal candidates to enter this field, although they may be required to complete a doctoral degree to instruct at some postsecondary institutions.
In addition to teaching students at the community college, 4-year college or university level, college instructors might conduct research in their field and publish papers. Newly hired faculty typically begin their careers as instructors before moving on to become assistant professors, associate professors and tenured professors. College instructors need at least a master's degree, usually in their area of specialization, though most institutions require a doctorate. Almost all schools prefer instructor candidates who have some form of teaching experience.
|Required Education||Master's degree|
|Other Requirements||May need a teaching license|
|Projected Job Growth||13% between 2014 and 2024 (for all postsecondary teachers)*|
|Average Salary (2015 Median)||$72,470|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Aspiring college instructors gain valuable teaching experience through student teaching during graduate school. Teaching assistants, also known as TAs, often assist faculty members by working as aides or teaching undergraduate classes. Assistants often learn how to assemble lesson plans, grade homework, conduct lectures and other skills that help them later as college instructors. Other avenues for gaining college-level teaching experience can include tutoring, working as a substitute teacher and attending teaching workshops.
Most instructors advance their careers by seeking a tenured position as a college or university professor. Tenured professors are ensured more extensive due process in termination proceedings, providing some measure of protection for professors teaching or researching unpopular or politically incorrect subject matter. Tenure is often granted based on classroom performance, length of employment, continuing education and research activity. Some 2-year colleges offer tenure to instructors who only have a master's degree, but 4-year colleges usually require tenure candidates to have doctorate degrees.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov) projects 'faster than average' job growth at a rate of 13% from 2014-2024.
A master's degree is the minimum level of education required to be a college instructor. Those interested in pursuing a career in this field should seek opportunities to acquire teaching experience and may be required to complete a doctoral degree. Jobs in this professional are growing at a faster than average rate.