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How do I Teach in Community Colleges?

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Community colleges are often a neighborhood hub. With programs including continuing education, technical and professional certificates and associate degree programs, community colleges strive to meet the needs of students with diverse needs and abilities. Community college teachers must be flexible, willing to work nights, weekends and even at distant satellite locations. Because community colleges are so connected to the communities they serve, it is imperative for teachers to understand not only the college’s mission but also how to navigate the application process when applying for open faculty positions.

Education Criteria

Have the required minimum educational background, which often means having a master’s degree and at least 18 credits of courses in the subject being taught. Knowing the requirements is helpful because some colleges are willing to accept a bachelor’s degree to teach some courses.

Teaching Experience

Try to acquire experience working with diverse groups. While this often includes working as a graduate teaching assistant, experience can be gained in other ways. In a "Washington Post" interview, Max Basset, the dean of academic student services at Northern Virginia Community College, advises teachers to “first participate in other forms of community-based work with groups of people. Scouting, church groups, coaching or senior citizen groups are places to get involved.”

Letters of Recommendation

Contact at least three professors who are familiar with your teaching and ask them to send letters of recommendation. Asking people who have expressed an interest in your teaching career, who have participated in formal observations and with whom you have a good, ongoing relationship is important, as you may have to request numerous letters before landing a full-time job.


Request transcripts from every college you have taken classes months before you know you will need them. While most request forms can be obtained online, many colleges are behind the times when processing requests; they still require paper copies of the request and clearance of your check--processes that can take many weeks.


Read all new-hire materials thoroughly, as these typically contain department standards, student responsibility books, important deadlines and other information needed to do the job. Learn any passwords needed to access technology, office equipment or classrooms. Keep on hand numbers for the department secretary and chairperson in case questions regarding students or procedures arise.

Syllabus and Schedule

Find out if the college uses a standard syllabus and rubric or if you have any leeway to create your own policies and grading system. If using a standard syllabus, you can still make a course your own by scheduling active learning activities to help understand the material.

Community Representative

Prepare well for class, arrive on time and offer individual attention to students; many live and work in surrounding communities, and their experiences in your class are likely to come up in casual conversations with other college employees, including your supervisors.