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From Industry to Community College Full-Time Faculty

There’s nothing like seeing the look of understanding suddenly appear on the faces of students you’re teaching. Those “light bulb moments” are the reason many choose to enter — and stay — in the teaching profession. And, sometimes, to share knowledge and experience means transitioning from one career to another. This is the case for many industry professionals who are looking at becoming a community college full-time faculty as the next step in their career.

Teaching in a Community College: What’s the Hype?

Teaching is teaching, right? There’s nothing further from the truth. There’s a significant difference in teaching elementary school students versus middle school students. The same goes for teaching middle school students versus high school students. And, as you might expect, teaching students in a community college setting is — in many ways — different than teaching any other population of students throughout higher education. But what do these differences look like? Here are a few to consider:

  1. Breaking away from a rigid schedule.As a community college full-time faculty member, schedules are typically much less rigid than industry schedules. For example, you might have an hour or more between classes that you’re teaching. And you might not teach every day of the week. This leaves more time to do the things you need to do for you and that you want to do for your students. Typically, full-time faculty members teach 3-5 classes per semester and 35 hours per week is considered full-time. In addition, full-time faculty work only 40 weeks per year (or 10 months) with opportunities to teach during Winter and Summer sessions for extra income.
  2. Great pay and excellent benefits. Initial Salary Placement for full-time faculty is dependent on education and experience. Salary range for a 10-month position is from: $67,368– $107,100 annually (adjusted for 12 months of pay per year).  For reference, click on link to the Academic Salary Schedule. Column placement is based on education and Step placement is based on years of professional experience, not to exceed nine (9) years’ experience for a maximum placement of Step 10. An excellent benefit package including medical, vision, dental, life and Section 125 is offered. Full-time faculty are covered by CalPERs health and retirement plans. Clink on the link for more details regarding employee Benefits. Including campus closures for Spring Break and the Winter Holiday, full-time faculty receive 20 paid days off, in addition to being off-contract between Fall and Spring semester and during summers.
  3. Playing the roles of professor and friend.  In a community college, you’ll be working with adult learners — some of whom might even be older than you. College of the Canyons accepts 100% of the population looking to pursue a degree, certificate, certification, or coursework in an emerging field, and as such you have the opportunity to support the current and future workforce generation as a professor, friend, or mentor.
  4. No pressure to publish for tenure. Community Colleges are an excellent choice if you want to focus on teaching and learning. People do publish—especially as a result of projects they’ve worked on during sabbatical. But the tenure requirements emphasize teaching quality, with additional attention to college service and professional development.

What It Takes to Become a Community College Professor

In California, there are minimum qualifications that must be met in order to become a community college full-time faculty member. These qualifications vary from discipline to discipline. So, be sure to find out which are required for the types of classes you’re interested in teaching. Here are two examples:

  • If you want to teach courses about the classics of literature, you either need to have a master’s degree in classics OR a bachelor’s degree in classics WITH a master’s (or equivalent) in history, English literature, comparative literature or classical archaeology.
  • If you want to teach courses about interior design, a master’s degree isn’t required. However, you must have EITHER a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in any discipline and two years of professional experience in the field of interior design OR any associate degree and six years of professional experience in the field.

You might already have many or most of the requirements needed for your area of study.

A Profession Poised for Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national job outlook for postsecondary teachers — which includes those who teach at community colleges — is projected to be 11% growth between 2018-2028. This is much faster than growth in other industries. Regarding mean annual salaries for postsecondary instructors, California is among the top-paying states. In May 2018, it was $84,160 or $40.46/hour. Of course, salary levels will vary by position.

In additional to the growth of the profession, becoming a community college faculty member is also an opportunity to grow as a professional -- expanding your skillset and providing opportunities to experience sharing your knowledge and experience in a new, dynamic and rewarding environment.