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Adjunct faculty- how and when?
Old 06-04-2019, 10:25 AM   #1
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Adjunct faculty- how and when?

I currently work for megacorp and just started my masters of systems engineering at a local university being paid for by megacorp. I am between 45 and 50 years of age.

I know on completing the masters, there is a possible salary adjustment, I doubt it makes too much of a difference in my pay ($3000/bump??).


I am getting the masters for 3 reasons
1) I like to pursue knowledge
2) It will likely help me mid term, as I am in the systems engineering group within my company
3) I would like to consider teaching as adjunct faculty in my 50s and 60s to supplement income or be my only income while I can reduce the hours I work.


I would like to know anyone here which has been, or is adjunct faculty- I have questions...
1) Did you find the faculty position in city which you lived, or did you find it after relocating (I ask because they don't build cars in Colorado, but I would love to relocate there and working in education might be most transferable skill I have)
2) Are the pay rates for adjunct faculty consistent across country (my expectation is $30-$40/hr)?
3) What are the pluses and minuses of adjunct faculty (I mean to use this term as part time teachers at local universities which do not collect full time benefits from the school).
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:29 AM   #2
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I have been adjunct faculty. Never got paid. It's pretty much volunteer work. I had to sit on thesis committees and advise students, too.

I have given lectures without being adjunct faculty. Pay is below minimum wage if one includes all the prep time and not just the lecture time.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:37 AM   #3
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I was an adjunct for about 5 yrs off and on over an 8 yr period. What I taught was the same things as I was teaching at the AF Academy so the learning curve was flat. Yes your rate range sounds about right. I worked in my current town at a local 4 yr university and a 2 yr community college as they would ask us to help out when they were short instructors.

As an adjunct I usually got a night class or two back to back. But I worked full time so it was fine. Didnít have to mess with the school politics. It was good and I enjoyed it but eventually you decide itís time to move on. I would gladly fill in for a few lectures if they needed me but I am unwilling to commit to taking a class.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:39 AM   #4
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I have been adjunct faculty. Never got paid. It's pretty much volunteer work. I had to sit on thesis committees and advise students, too.

I have given lectures without being adjunct faculty. Pay is below minimum wage if one includes all the prep time and not just the lecture time.
I had offers to teach CAD at a vocational school many years go- should have taken them up on that... my goal is to have more options/choices.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:19 AM   #5
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Our university paid 2500/semester to teach a class. I taught online for 6 years and the funding source was different so I was paid 222/student. I was making 8k/semester. They got rid of all the adjuncts and the going rate is between 1k-3k /semesters. I just had to teach but many online programs tell you how many times a week you have to contact each student, etc. A friend of mine is teaching 5 classes to make 20k/year at 3 different institutions. She is putting in a ton of time for that money.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:29 AM   #6
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My employer pays adjuncts about $1050 per credit hour. If you figure a 16 week course, that works out to $65/hour. BUT (a big but) if you have 24 students and you give them an assignment a week, you can figure about 4 hours or so of grading time (that would only give you 10 minutes per student per assignment). Now you are at $13/hour. Add on to that time for prep, time for assignment generation, time for office hours, and time to do mid and final grades...and you end up in a below minimum wage job.

Having said that, I still found teaching (including as an adjunct) enjoyable. Adjuncts have advantages in that I didn't have to go to department meetings, I didn't have to worry about getting new courses approved, didn't have to worry about hiring committees.

Just be clear about why you would be doing this - it is much easier to make money in your industry, so if you decide to go this route you are doing it because you get other things (other than money) out of it.

I started as an adjunct, eventually a full time slot opened up due to retirement (ironic since I was FIRE) and I've now been full time for the past five years and now have tenure. My biggest reason for jumping on full time was health benefits.
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:31 PM   #7
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First, some background information:

I like to think I have been reasonably successful with my career as a professional online Adjunct. I started teaching at my first college while working a full-time day job, and was lucky enough to get hired at 11 colleges, usually working at several at the same time. I quit my day job in 2005, and since then I have done nothing (from a paid work perspective) but teach online college classes as an Adjunct.

If I add up the time I have spent working at each of the 11 colleges that hired me, I have more than 70 years of combined Adjunct experience and have taught about 600 sections of online courses. I now only teach at one college, and consider myself to be semiretired.

To answer your specific questions:

1) I got my first Adjunct job by walking into the local community college and speaking to the chair of the department I was hoping to teach in. They happened to need somebody at the time and my Adjunct career began.

I got most of my other Adjunct jobs the old-fashioned way. I would go to the human resources web page for a college and apply for open positions in subjects I was qualified to teach. I would also study college websites to identify the department chairs and deans, and send cold emails to them with cover letters and resumes offering my services. Since I was just teaching online I was able to apply for positions at colleges across the entire country. I probably filled out at least a couple of hundred job applications over the years.

Some colleges are willing to hire out-of-town Adjuncts. Others expect the Adjunct to be in the area, or at least be in the state. Some colleges expect their Adjuncts to teach on campus at their college before allowing those individuals to teach online.

Obviously, if you are teaching online, you can be physically located anywhere you have reliable Internet access.

Generally speaking, the courses you can teach at the college level depend on your graduate-level education. You can be qualified to teach college-preparatory courses in some cases based on your undergraduate education.

2) Pay rates are in no way consistent across the country, although they might be consistent within a given small region. Much of my teaching experience is at Florida community colleges, and their pay is poor compared to much of the rest of the country.

When you include course preparation time, grading time, the actual time spent teaching, time spent meeting with students either in an office or on the phone or by email, and attending occasional required training events that are almost always unpaid, the time commitment can be surprisingly high. Expecting $30 or $40 per hour may be realistic at some colleges, but is unrealistic at most community colleges across the country for someone new to teaching. Once you have some experience teaching specific courses, the preparation time and development time will drop dramatically, so your hourly pay rate will effectively go up.

The pay variation can be pretty wide. The best-paying college I have taught for paid more than twice as much per class as the worst-paying college I have taught for.

The workload also depends on the subjects you teach, as well as the way you design the course, or the way the course is designed for you. If you are teaching English and have to spend a lot of time grading term papers, this can be a tedious time sink. Other subjects may not be quite as labor-intensive.

If you are willing to take advantage of technology and use some productivity tools, it is possible to reduce the workload drastically. Many teachers aren't willing to do so but they still complain about working too many hours. I was able to find productivity tools and processes that saved me 30 or 40 hours every week compared to doing the work manually.

Some colleges require individual instructors to develop all of their course content on their own. Some colleges give individual instructors all of the core content and just tell them to teach the given content. Some colleges will be a combination of the two extremes.

3A) Some advantages of Adjunct teaching include:
* Teaching can be a rewarding career.
* It can be done while still working a different full-time career. If you plan to teach in the future, it may be a good idea to start teaching while you are still working full time just to get some experience.
* If you are teaching online, it can be done anywhere you have reliable Internet access. I have done lots of traveling and kept up with my teaching work while traveling. These days, Internet access is pretty reliable in most places - but not every place. I have done a little bit of work from cruise ships, but have found that cruise ship Internet access is either slow, expensive, or both.
* If you are teaching at a college local to where you live, you may get some benefits for being on the faculty, such as discounts to local retailers, or use of campus facilities such as the library or the fitness center.
* As an Adjunct faculty, you may be eligible for software discounts from major software publishers or through the college itself.
* One reason I was able to teach such a large workload is because in many cases I was able to teach multiple sections of the same course at different colleges. There is much less course development work involved teaching 10 sections of one class than there is teaching 10 different classes.
* Adjuncts are generally insulated from most of the organizational politics, which is often a good thing.
* If you have Adjunct experience at a particular college, and a full-time position opens up, it may (but may not) give you a leg up if you are interested in a full-time position there.

3B) Some disadvantages of Adjunct Teaching Include:
* The work is ALWAYS contingent. Adjuncts are hired to meet the needs the college has at the time. When enrollments go down, Adjuncts lose course assignments. Full-time faculty will always get their minimum full-time course loads before Adjuncts or given any courses. If a full-time faculty member suddenly wants to teach the course you have been teaching, your course assignments will likely go down.
* The college can let you go anytime, and for any reason, if they don't like you. And they may have to let you go even if they do like you, if there aren't enough classes to give to you.
* You may spend some time preparing to teach a class, and then lose it at the last minute. The course might be lost because it was canceled due to low enrollment. Or the course might be lost because it was reassigned to a full-time faculty member who needs it to reach their minimum required course load. Over the years, I've had about eight percent of the classes originally assigned to me taken away at or near the last minute for these reasons.
* Many Adjuncts want to teach as many classes as they can to maximize their incomes. In some cases, Adjuncts will have consistent course assignments year after year so they can plan on this level of income. In other cases, the number of course assignments can vary greatly from year-to-year, or even from semester-to-semester, with little or no warning.
* You may be required to attend training sessions before being allowed to teach, and these will usually be unpaid.
* You will occasionally be required to attend mandatory training sessions, often on topics such as equal opportunity, harassment, and similar topics. These will usually be unpaid.
* Although I have rarely been treated poorly on an individual basis by any of my bosses, most colleges treat the Adjunct constituency as an easily replaceable asset. Adjuncts need to accept the fact that they are usually easily replaceable and will be treated that way in many cases.
* There is lots of competition for Adjunct work. A former boss once told me that she received more than 200 cold emails every week from people wanting to teach online.
* Currently, enrollments in colleges are decreasing across the country. One reason is because the numbers of high school graduates have been dropping for at least the last eight or nine years. Another reason is because the economy has been doing well in recent years. When the economy does well, people go to work instead of school. When the economy starts doing poorly and people get laid off, they often go back to community college for retraining, so enrollments typically rise.
* The intense competition for Adjunct work, combined with dropping enrollments, is putting a squeeze on Adjuncts at many colleges.
* Most Adjuncts are not eligible for benefits such as medical or dental insurance. I was fortunate in that I was able to get my necessary health insurance from other sources.
* If you start teaching at multiple colleges, the travel time can add up quickly. All of my teaching experience has been online, so the travel time was essentially zero. It just takes a minute or so to log out of one college website and login to the next college website.
* If you teach on campus, you will probably be required to hold office hours on campus. But you may not have an office. You may have to do your office hours in your classroom, or perhaps in an office shared with other Adjuncts, or perhaps in the library.
* Especially at the community college level, most students have jobs and families, and often do most of their work on the weekends. To me, the most important ability of any teacher is availability, and I think it is important to be available on the weekends, at least to respond to urgent questions and pleas for assistance. But not every teacher agrees with me on this point.

In my experience, for-profit schools don't treat adjuncts as well as the community colleges do, and the working environments at for-profits are often more frustrating. There are so many people wanting to teach for these schools that some of them don't care how they treat their people.

If you have any other questions, feel free to message me privately.
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Old 06-04-2019, 06:45 PM   #8
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^^^^ Lewis Clark - Great post, covers a great deal of ground!
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:05 PM   #9
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^^^^ Lewis Clark - Great post, covers a great deal of ground!
Thank you. : )
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:49 PM   #10
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Great feedback

FYI I started my career as a software instructor/CAD instructor, I have some experience teaching adults in a professional setting
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:31 PM   #11
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Lewis Clark nailed it with that very comprehensive post. He didn't come right out and say it, so I will just add, it's better to do it because you love teaching than for the need of money. I really enjoyed interacting with the students and I enjoyed the subject. Even though the subject was part of my profession, teaching it brings it to you in a new light.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:44 PM   #12
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In my former life, I was faculty, chair, associate dean, and dean, but answers to your questions are highly dependent on the institution which hires you as adjunct.

In general, adjunct faculty (where I worked) were paid about $4000 per course; this can change radically lower at community colleges or schools in rural areas or (choose your own variable). Business, engineering and other high demand areas could pay more.

The plus is, generally, that there are almost no additional "service" expectations from adjuncts. And--if there is sufficient demand (a big if)--and if your performance is good, there is a good chance of being rehired. On the other hand, if there is decreased demand or economic problems or if there are performance concerns, you are the first to be cut.

As chair and Dean, I depended on adjunct/lecturers and I valued them highly, although only lecturers (who were teaching a full load) qualified for full medical benefits; this is a big issue. However, over the last 10 years, adjuncts with lower loads qualified for partial medical benefits, which is a big deal for them; this I think is the exception, rather than the rule.

Good luck; many of our adjuncts like you were highly qualified and were highly content, wanting to "give back." Others were exploited by the system and by me, I think; there was no room, however, for adjustments whatsoever. I argued for increasing pay and health benefits, and was somewhat successful over the years on both.

While this is not really relevant, I'm now an over-paid online adjunct (I'm paid about twice the adjunct rate) and love it.

Addendum: I read Lewis Clark's post above and he/she is on the mark about Comm. College adjuncting (I believe, although this is not my experience since my experience is with 4 year schools, except about 25 years ago; from talking to our adjuncts who taught at CC's, however, he sounds exactly on point.) Also, like Lewis, feel free to message me on the 4 year experience, with the caveat that different schools are......... very, very, very radically different.




Quote:
Originally Posted by jIMOh View Post
I currently work for megacorp and just started my masters of systems engineering at a local university being paid for by megacorp. I am between 45 and 50 years of age.

I know on completing the masters, there is a possible salary adjustment, I doubt it makes too much of a difference in my pay ($3000/bump??).


I am getting the masters for 3 reasons
1) I like to pursue knowledge
2) It will likely help me mid term, as I am in the systems engineering group within my company
3) I would like to consider teaching as adjunct faculty in my 50s and 60s to supplement income or be my only income while I can reduce the hours I work.


I would like to know anyone here which has been, or is adjunct faculty- I have questions...
1) Did you find the faculty position in city which you lived, or did you find it after relocating (I ask because they don't build cars in Colorado, but I would love to relocate there and working in education might be most transferable skill I have)
2) Are the pay rates for adjunct faculty consistent across country (my expectation is $30-$40/hr)?
3) What are the pluses and minuses of adjunct faculty (I mean to use this term as part time teachers at local universities which do not collect full time benefits from the school).
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Old 06-05-2019, 05:39 AM   #13
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I am a "he". : )

Completely agree that different schools are different, just like different employers within any given industry are different. My Adjunct experience has been at eight community colleges and three for-profit colleges. I did apply over the years to a number of four-year colleges, but most of the ones I applied to were not interested in even considering hiring an online Adjunct who lived out of town.

From the Adjunct perspective, more of the differences between colleges are probably due to the type of institution (public four-year college, private four-year college, community college, for-profit college) and due to the idiosyncrasies of individual bosses, rather than differences between employers. The overall Adjunct experiences at the 11 colleges I have worked for have been very similar.

If I were a new Adjunct wannabe, I would be applying everywhere I could, and be happy with almost any job I got, at least initially until I built up some experience.

Nice to hear that a college administrator is admitting to exploiting Adjuncts. That is just the nature of the beast for the most part, and I knew fully what I was getting into when I quit the day job to become a full-time Adjunct. The Adjuncts I have known who do the most complaining about the Adjunct experience are the ones who don't recognize that they chose to work in a field where they will almost by definition be exploited. Kind of like people who choose to work at a landfill and then complain about the smell. Or like people who join the Navy and then complain about getting seasick. : )

For me, the advantages of working from home and working almost entirely on my own schedule outweighed the disadvantages. As a full-time telecommuter I've been able to do pretty much whatever I wanted, and whenever I wanted, and from wherever I wanted, since I quit my day job in 2005. This is one reason why I have not been in the same hurry to leave the workforce entirely as some other folks. For me, choosing to be a full-time online Adjunct was a lifestyle choice and I've never regretted it.

To RobLJ: How can I become one of those overpaid online Adjuncts? : )
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Old 06-05-2019, 09:48 AM   #14
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I am a "he". : )

Completely agree that different schools are different, just like different employers within any given industry are different. My Adjunct experience has been at eight community colleges and three for-profit colleges. I did apply over the years to a number of four-year colleges, but most of the ones I applied to were not interested in even considering hiring an online Adjunct who lived out of town.

From the Adjunct perspective, more of the differences between colleges are probably due to the type of institution (public four-year college, private four-year college, community college, for-profit college) and due to the idiosyncrasies of individual bosses, rather than differences between employers. The overall Adjunct experiences at the 11 colleges I have worked for have been very similar.

If I were a new Adjunct wannabe, I would be applying everywhere I could, and be happy with almost any job I got, at least initially until I built up some experience.

Nice to hear that a college administrator is admitting to exploiting Adjuncts. That is just the nature of the beast for the most part, and I knew fully what I was getting into when I quit the day job to become a full-time Adjunct. The Adjuncts I have known who do the most complaining about the Adjunct experience are the ones who don't recognize that they chose to work in a field where they will almost by definition be exploited. Kind of like people who choose to work at a landfill and then complain about the smell. Or like people who join the Navy and then complain about getting seasick. : )

For me, the advantages of working from home and working almost entirely on my own schedule outweighed the disadvantages. As a full-time telecommuter I've been able to do pretty much whatever I wanted, and whenever I wanted, and from wherever I wanted, since I quit my day job in 2005. This is one reason why I have not been in the same hurry to leave the workforce entirely as some other folks. For me, choosing to be a full-time online Adjunct was a lifestyle choice and I've never regretted it.

To RobLJ: How can I become one of those overpaid online Adjuncts? : )
Can I enquire to your field(s) of expertise publicly?
Thx for the PM

My background would be either teaching math like Calculus, teaching CAD, or teaching designing IT systems/ data modeling.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:05 AM   #15
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I loved teaching but it’s also work so 5k / semester is the least I would do it for. Also I would want to work for a college that is not micromanaging the adjuncts like many do.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:08 AM   #16
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Can I enquire to your field(s) of expertise publicly?
Thx for the PM

My background would be either teaching math like Calculus, teaching CAD, or teaching designing IT systems/ data modeling.
I teach or have taught meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, some business classes and some pre-college math classes.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:15 AM   #17
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My wife is a full time college professor, but started out doing adjunct teaching part-time to get her foot in the door. She teaches full time at a state university with a very generous defined benefit retirement plan. Her hours are awesome and her pay isn't bad at all. Her prep time has gone down drastically now that she has done all of her classes several times before. And even her grading doesn't take up too much time. However, she teaches graduate courses, so her class sizes are smaller, which helps with grading.

HOWEVER, adjuncts get no benefits, the pay sucks, and there is no retirement plan. It's a really lousy gig, at least at my wife's university. If she didn't get in full time, I doubt she would have stuck that out.
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:17 AM   #18
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I'm a part-time faculty member at a local university in Colorado. Been doing this for past 3 years. Still working full-time at Megacorp, but retiring in 3 weeks from that life. I do have a Master's degree, which is required to teach at my university.

Pros: I teach 2 classes per semester that involves (per week) 8 hrs teaching on campus, 4 hrs on campus for office hours, and 4 hrs grading assignments. Take home pay is comparable to what's in your post. I don't have to advise students, don't have to attend faculty meetings, don't have to take mandatory dept training. My dept doesn't have issues with declining students wanting to major in the program (all classes fill up immediately and have waitlisted students wanting in). Classrooms have advanced technology computing environments. Tenured faculty members are great and happy to have me, with no dept politics that I have to put up with. The 3 other part-time faculty members in the dept help/support each other. No office, but have an assigned cubicle with a PC and phone. Eligible for university employee medical and retirement benefits (but I'm not taking advantage - my Megacorp medical benefits will continue in retirement until age 65). Do not teach in the summer.

Cons: Job is based on a semester-by-semester contract. Most of the students are great, but every class always has a few that think published rules do not apply to them and demand exceptions.

I'm looking for forward to post-retirement life where I'll continue teaching 2 classes per semester. This fall, I'm teaching 2 classes on Tuesday/Thursday afternoon and evening, which gives me a "4-day weekend" every week, plus a free day between teaching days. I teach because I enjoy it and there's not a semester that goes by where I don't learn something new from my students. I look at it as my way to "give back" to help educate the next generation of students.

College teaching is not for everyone, but for me, it's exactly how I wish to keep myself busy in retirement.
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Old 06-06-2019, 01:28 PM   #19
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Interesting info- thanks all!
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:32 PM   #20
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DIL did adjunct at large state u for I believe about $5k per course. She's in love with the academic life (family thing) and put in TONS of time to boost profile, all basically volunteer. In the end, she and DS are now moving to where she's been offered a sweet tenure track position. Basically I don't see the allure of academia unless you really love the subject and academic life. For the money it strikes me as tough sell observing the time and pressure to publish. DD got her doctorate in chem e and wanted no part of it.
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