There are several routes to become a community college professor, but all are mostly concerned in developing expertise in a certain subject typically taught in education settings. Community college professors or junior college (JC) professors generally can expect to teach classes that are equivalent are on par with courses offered in the first two years of most colleges. The way that expertise is established can vary depending on institution.
First, when people want to start a career as a community college professor, they may be confused a bit by the term professor. In general, a professor possesses a doctorate degree, and many community college teachers don’t have this degree. However, a junior or community college may prefer to call their teachers professors, and thus confer the title in a different manner than earning a PhD or related doctorate.
To confuse matters further, some PhDs do teach at community colleges, and in competitive job markets people with doctorates may be preferred over people with master’s degrees. This may depend on area, but those teaching general education subjects should probably be prepared for this by having at least a master’s degree, and possibly a PhD if they want to work in a highly competitive area or college.
Thus the first minimal step for the person who wants to become a community college professor in most subject areas is to earn a Master’s degree. This means getting a four-year undergraduate degree first and then applying to and finishing a Master’s level program. The major chosen simply has to be something the college teaches.
Since emphasis in the community college is on teaching classes, make sure to take every opportunity to get teaching practice. Tutor, read papers, work as a teaching assistant and even teach classes in a master’s program if this opportunity is available. Moreover, if a person wants to work at a specific community college, start building a relationship with the faculty of that college in the department that makes hiring decisions. Try to take either volunteer or paid positions at the college and perform any jobs well so that going into interviews, the faculty already knows the strength of the candidate applying.
In addition to offering a full complement of general education courses, many community colleges have special certificate classes or training in various fields that don’t always involve traditional college degrees. Another way to become a community college professor is to evolve expertise in one of these special areas. For instance, a JC might have an excellent culinary arts training program for students, and many people have lots of training and experience in this area without possessing a master’s degree. Instead a combination of field experience and training by accepted sources like culinary schools could be a way to gain the experience needed to become a community college professor.
The same holds true in a variety of practical fields. The extremely experienced auto mechanic may be well suited for a professorial role in an auto repair certificate program. Again, in combination with education and experience, getting hired usually comes down to ability to teach. All the experience in the world buys nothing if a person can’t logically convey that experience to others. While gathering expertise in a specific vocational or trade field, also look for ways to teach. Learning how to create lesson plans and evaluate students can be important too, and working as teacher’s assistant may be one of the best ways to do this.
Many community colleges are hard hit by changes in the economy and some may be cutting staff instead of adding it. This can make finding a job difficult, especially in more competitive fields or in high population areas. Lots of professors begin by taking part time work. This is a foot in the door at least, but it’s good to keep searching for more permanent jobs too. People might also consider if they can apply some of their skills to online teaching, which appears to be a growing market.