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2nd Career as Community College Teacher

  1. Aug 1, 2007 #1


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    This is a question for the U.S. Community College teachers out there. I've worked in industry for a gazillion years (M.S. Mech Engineering degree a gazillion+ years ago) and am interested in a 2nd career as a math or intro physics teacher at the community college level.

    Is this a feasible thing to do, or am I totally crazy that such a thing could happen? I'd appreciate any advice/comments on best approach for success and/or some realism as to what I'm likely to encounter.

    Thanks! :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2007 #2

    Dr Transport

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    I worked as a community college instructor almost 20 years ago. It was great for a part-time gig. I am not sure I'd want to go back as a full-timer and deal with the politics of tenure etc.....

    Many schools want/require a Masters/PhD in the subject area as minimum qualification and this is what I have seen in my local school ( don't ask where). The two colloeges I worked at in the past required a masters at a minimum before they would talk to you about teaching so keep that in mind.
  4. Aug 2, 2007 #3
    ehh i had a cal 3 teacher who had a bachelor's in math and tons of experience. so this guy's masters + experience is probably sufficient. i mean hell i could teach any class i've taken at CC and i just graduated with an AA
  5. Aug 2, 2007 #4
    Most community colleges require a masters degree with 18 graduate hours in the subject to be taught as the minimum qualification for a faculty position. However, there are some exceptions. Here in North Carolina, one may teach in a technical (non-transfer) field with either a bachelor's degree or the same degree as the curriculum in which you want to teach.

    Note that a PhD is not a teaching credential but rather a research credential and has very little to do with one's teaching competency.
  6. Aug 2, 2007 #5
    that means nothing, kind of a pathetic statement IMHO. do you have any experience yourself? learning the material isn't as easy as teaching it.
  7. Aug 2, 2007 #6
    Your chances of getting hired depend on the school. A professor was telling me last week that he is part time, and that the union gets angry if part time professors teach more than 2 classes per semester. I've noticed alot of people with masters/bachelors getting hired as PVTL (Part time visiting lecturers), often they are better than full time professors, but lack the PhD to be hired full time (disappointing).

    I think your goal is completely feasible, but don't restrict yourself to thinking you can only teach as a community college, you might qualify to teach at some state and private schools as well.
  8. Aug 2, 2007 #7
    What a ridiculous statement. Excellent, or even competent professors tend to be masters in the subject they teach, meaning they should have ~10 years of experience dealing with their particular subject matter. You may think that you understand calculus or physics enough to teach it just from taking a course at your local community college, but you'd be mistaken. The first time a student asked a question regarding a proof or a derivation of a law or theorem, you'd look like a complete idiot, even more of an idiot than you look now for making that statement.
  9. Aug 2, 2007 #8
    it's pathetic that i believe i know the stuff well enough to teach it? :uhh:

    yup both of you guys know me so well.
  10. Aug 2, 2007 #9
    Yeah, I'm sure you're plenty hardcore with your associate's from a CC.
  11. Aug 3, 2007 #10
    well considering i'm doing condensed matter theory right now, i think i'm pretty hardcore
  12. Aug 3, 2007 #11
    Can you guys stop arguing in hotvettes tread and stay on topic?
  13. Aug 3, 2007 #12
    i've already contributed, from what i've seen experience trumps degrees.
  14. Aug 3, 2007 #13
    Qualification and ability are two different topics. A PhD or in some cases a masters qualifies you to teach at any institution, but it doesn't say anything about your ability to profess to a group of students. Knowledge in a field does not beget good social skills, or the ability to effectively lecture.

    I don't doubt that there are people with B.S., AA, or self-taught that could lecture on a subject as effectively as a PhD, but they don't have the academic qualifications to do so.
  15. Aug 3, 2007 #14
    :confused: i dont understand what you're saying? what are qualifications if not the ability to "profess" to people? if you mean arbitrarily imposed qualifications yes fine but like all arbitrary things they are not truly impositions. if someone can prove their ability to teach they can get a job teaching.
  16. Aug 3, 2007 #15
    Actually, teaching is more hung up on having the proper piece of paper than most fields. This is not to say it is impossible to get a teaching position without an appropriate credential, but it's very difficult.
  17. Aug 3, 2007 #16
    Qualifications are usually a PhD to teach full time at the university level, and a masters for the high school level. People with lesser degrees do get hired part time, but all insitutions have different requirments for full time employees that can eventually be tenured. Getting hired is way beyond how well you teach, canidates will be evaluated on reaserch, publications, and job history. Examine any university and you will find people who are tenured, full time, professors that get bad teaching reviews. Your ability to convey the subject isn't the only criteria you are evaluated on.
  18. Aug 3, 2007 #17
    community college != university. getting hired at community college doesn't require much. hence my initial statements that i could probably teach there.
  19. Aug 3, 2007 #18


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    I appreciate the dialog, but I'd especially like to hear from current community college faculty.
  20. Aug 3, 2007 #19
    I see no reason why you cant Hotvette.
  21. Aug 3, 2007 #20
    why don't you just go and speak with someone at a local community college. you can even go on to the faculty page and check some of their qualifications. i guarantee you a lot of them have only master's
  22. Aug 3, 2007 #21


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    Interesting comments. Arguing against that comment probably not supportable; maybe you characterise the situation very well. Certainly many exeptions exist. What you say suggests that maybe a way to find a useful instructor at a college is to try to choose someone who does not have tenure at the institution, since while he is not yet well established, he will try harder. I can remember a few Math teachers who I believe were tenured, and they were very acceptable as teachers of their subject; I also remember a (very very likely) NON-tenured Math teacher who was good at teaching certain topics, not too good teaching certain other topics, and was an EASY grader. I also remember another Math teacher at a different college, certainly who had NO tenure, who taught reasonably, but did not finish all of the course material. He too was a fairly easy grader.

    My guess is that maybe the tenured professors become tired of students expecting a special deal on grading, and so these professors become strict and seem inflexible while they are really (often) just expecting students to take responsibility for their own learning. We are reaching at generalizations here. We really need to focus on each individual professor/instructor.
  23. Aug 4, 2007 #22
    Lecturing is an effective way to convey information but a relatively poor way to actually teach someone something. There is plenty of research to back up this claim.
  24. Aug 4, 2007 #23
    You imply that having "only" a masters degree is bad. Yes the majority of community college facultly do indeed have masters degrees but quite a few have doctoral degrees. Furthermore, community colleges and universities in my regional accreditation agency have the SAME minimum credential requirements for teaching undergraduate courses, namely a masters degree with 18 graudate hours in the subject area. Of course the universities will outright lie and say that doctoral degrees are required but they are indeed lying as anyone can see by reading the SACS accreditation pseudostandards.

    I would also like to state that having or not having tenure is in no way indicitave of a professor's teaching capabilities any more than having or not having a doctoral degree is.
  25. Aug 4, 2007 #24
    How I wish that a masters degree were required for high school teachers in this country but it is not. The minimum qualification is a bachelors degree.

    The North Carolina Community College System has no tenure. I think the Virginia system does.
  26. Aug 4, 2007 #25
    Unless you have a masters degree with 18 graduate hours in the subject area, there's no way you can be hired to teach courses that carry college/university transfer credit. However, if you wish to teach in a technical field (e.g. IT or MIS or something like that) then you could get hired with a BS or BA degree but you would not be permitted to teach any transfer courses. You could also be hired with an associate degree to teach in a vocational subject area in which you have the same associate degree, but again you would not be permitted to teach any transfer curriculum courses.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2007
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