How to Become a Part-Time College Professor

by Jared Lewis; Updated September 26, 2017
Part-time professors have the convenience of teaching only the classes they want.

If you have an advanced degree and are looking for additional part-time work, a job as a part-time college professor may be just what the doctor ordered. Part-time college professors have the opportunity to set their own schedules by only taking classes at times and locations they wish to teach. Pay for part-time professors is usually paid on a per credit-hour basis and can vary greatly by location and institution.

Obtain a bachelor's degree in the field of your choice. You do not have to obtain a degree in the field you will be teaching, but it can be helpful for graduate studies and teaching later on. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, which include two years of general education requirements in courses like history, science, math, English literature and composition, psychology, sociology and communications. If you have yet to pursue a bachelor's degree, taking courses in a wide variety of these fields can help you decide which major you want to pursue and will provide you with foundational knowledge for courses your junior and senior years.

Apply to graduate schools to obtain a minimum of a master's degree and possibly a doctorate degree. The job market for professors is highly competitive, so even if you obtain a doctorate, there is a chance you will be teaching on a part-time basis once you finish graduate school. A master's degree is the minimum qualification to teach at most community colleges and four-year institutions, with the exception of a few schools that offer vocational or certificate programs where a bachelor's degree will suffice. However, these are rare. Pursue your degree in the field in which you intend to teach. If possible pursue a degree in a field that has wide applicability across a variety of disciplines, especially if you are pursuing your master's degree only and do not plan on pursuing a doctorate. A degree in history or philosophy for example, can qualify you to teach these fields and others like humanities and religious studies.

Gain experience while going to graduate school by working as a teaching assistant. This will give you some experience lecturing, writing lecture notes and grading. You should be able to learn many of the ins and outs of classroom management while in graduate school.

Apply for teaching positions with any colleges, community colleges and universities in your area. Contact the head of the department in which you plan on teaching. Introduce yourself and inquire about any available part-time positions. You will need to submit an application, resume, curriculum vitae and possibly reference letters before you may be hired. Most colleges have a limit on how many hours a part-time professor can teach, so if you wish to gain additional work, divide your time between two or more institutions. Applying to teach online classes is another way to increase the amount of work you have available.

2016 Salary Information for Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers earned a median annual salary of $78,050 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, postsecondary teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $54,710, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $114,710, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,314,500 people were employed in the U.S. as postsecondary teachers.

About the Author

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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