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What Is an Adjunct Professor? (Full Guide)

what is an adjunct professor

At some point, you may think about having a job in academia. Many curious minds who go on to become experts in their field have a natural desire to pass on their knowledge to younger generations. However, taking on a full-time job as a lecturer or professor may be counter-productive if it is just to teach others to do what you love to do. 

Fortunately, there is a loophole. Yes, the freelance-a-la-academia; you could simply become an adjunct professor!

What Is An Adjunct Professor?

Many careers can allow you to freelance, work on a contract basis, or service level agreements. Many learning institutions offer the same. This basically means that you are not a permanent employee of the institution. 

Adjunct professors take on teaching part-time and have no serious long-term obligations to an institution. You will, however, perform the duties of any other person in the teaching profession, such as planning and structuring lessons, assigning work, grading papers, and administering tests.

What qualifications do you need to be an adjunct professor?

You will need a master’s or doctorate in your field of expertise to be qualified to teach. Having actual experience in practice will be highly beneficial as well, as students typically get a better idea of how to prepare for their jobs going forward, than only having a theoretical view of how it’s done. 

A few stories of actual challenges in the workplace or problems and their solutions will definitely help to demonstrate your experience. You will also need proper communication skills, be tech savvy and be in tune with the latest developments in your field. You will need to read up on new research constantly and work it into your lesson plans. 

Teaching Part-Time

Teaching Part-Time

Adjunct professors can choose their own schedules within reason and decide how many classes they would like to take on. If one institution does not have enough for them to do, they may sign up to teach at more than one place of learning. 

The flexible schedule allows for you to still practice your actual field of expertise, and not simply teach. You can still retain some clients, sign up to participate in research, and get a feel for teaching, all at the same time. Many tenured professors started in adjunct positions because full-time positions are rare, and you usually need to have prior teaching experience. 

The Cons

You may have to compromise or work around a tight schedule, and it is not always a given that you will get as many or as few classes as you want. 

Adjunct professors are paid significantly less than full-time professors, as they have fewer obligations. However, in the same breath, working for many bosses at the same time may present some challenges, as you will have responsibilities to everyone you are contracted with.  

Not able to do your own research…

If you wanted to do any research, you would have to participate in the research of tenured professors, as you would not be able to secure research grants on your own. You likely will not have your own office either, so any office hours you need with students will have to happen at your home or alternative office space.

When is it Better to Not Pursue This Path?

When is it Better to Not Pursue This Path?

If you have trouble speaking in front of a group of people or struggle to express yourself verbally, this may not be the best job for you. It is also worth considering the amount of administrative work it entails. 

It is not simply about showing up to class and teaching; you will physically have to design the course you are teaching and spend time before and after each class, either grading students’ work or holding office hours. If you are not prepared for this, or you have a busy schedule as it is, this may not be the best idea.

Is Teaching Your Calling?

Well, that’s amazing! What A privilege to mold people’s minds, young or old! So, have you been wondering How To Become A Teacher or How To Become A Collge Professor to help point you in the right direction in 2023.

Next, check out our selection of career guides, such as the Childcare Teacher Job Description and the Pre K Teacher Job Description, if younger education is your calling, or perhaps you’d like to take a look at the Teacher Job Description and Teacher Assistant Job Description, the Montessori Teacher Job Description, and lastly, the most common Special Education Teacher Interview Questions to help you prepare.

Finally, please check up on Can A Felon Become A School Teacher if you have a criminal record.

What Is An Adjunct Professor? – Final Thoughts

An adjunct professor position may be the best way to supplement your practical career or to find your feet before applying for full-time or tenured positions.

 Teaching is a calling, albeit not for everyone, but it is good to know that you have the option to try it out part-time before committing to it permanently.

All the very best working as an Adjunct Professor!

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