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How Much Do Community College Teachers Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Becoming a Community College Instructor

If teaching interests you, but you'd prefer to instruct older teens and adults, becoming a community college instructor may be a good career move. College-level and vocational teaching may offer a flexible schedule, allowing you to spend time with your family. You'll also have a career teaching others about a subject that's important to you.

Job Description

Community college instructors teach in an academic or vocational setting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your duties may include the following:

  • Prepare and give lectures
  • Develop lesson plans
  • Provide hands-on instruction and supervision in labs, clinical settings or mechanical shops
  • Grade student assignments
  • Maintain professional competence by reading professional journals, attending conferences and writing
  • Act as an advisor to students
  • Work with professional colleagues on curriculum development

Education Requirements

If you plan to teach an academic subject, such as math, biology, English or philosophy, you will need at least a master's degree, though many schools prefer to hire someone with a doctorate. Exceptions may be made if you teach as an adjunct. Getting experience in graduate school by working as a teaching assistant can help you find a job in a community college after you complete your degree.

Some community colleges also offer vocational training, such as coursework in HVAC, auto mechanics or the culinary arts, and, as such, they may be more concerned about your on-the-job experience than whether you hold a graduate degree. Having academic credentials may boost your chances of getting a teaching position in a vocational program, however, and some state's licensing laws may require you to have at least a bachelor's degree before you can join a school's faculty.

According to the BLS, the annual median wage for community college instructors in 2016 was $75,730 at a local college and $54,790 at a state-run community college. This means that 50 percent of instructors earned more than this, depending on whether they teach at a community college that receives local or state funding, and 50 percent made less. It's also important to note that the amount an instructor earns depends on her discipline, whether she holds a tenure-track position or is teaching on a contract basis, and whether she is employed full- or part-time.

Twenty-four percent of vocational teachers are employed at community colleges. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for these instructors as of May 2016 was $53,310.

Industry

Community college instructors typically teach on campuses or, increasingly, online from their homes or offices. Since many two-year colleges cater to adult students or students with families, a number of faculty members find themselves teaching weekend or evening classes.

Years of Experience

According to a survey by PayScale.com, college instructors (not specifically community college instructors) can expect to earn more as they gain work experience. The figures below show the correlation between years on the job and annual median salary among those who completed the survey:

  • 0-5 years: $43,000 
  • 5-10 years: $48,000 
  • 10-20 years: $51,000
  • 20+ years: $53,000 

Job Growth Trend

According to the BLS, jobs in postsecondary education are expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. It should be noted, however, that not all academic disciplines or subject areas will experience the same level of growth. For example, the demand for geography teachers is expected to grow at a rate of only 8 percent, while jobs for instructors in health specialties should increase by 26 percent.