Securing a Teaching Position at the Post-Secondary Level
By Dr. Nathan Bond
Dr. Bond is currently serving as Past President of Kappa Delta Pi. At Texas State University, he serves as the KDP chapter counselor, teaches graduate-level courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and serves as the Assistant Director of the Office of Academic Development and Assessment.
After teaching for a number of years in the K-12 setting, teachers often experience a “professional itch” and begin looking for a new job that will satisfy and challenge them intellectually and professionally. Many teachers consider returning to the university because they view earning an advanced degree as a stepping stone to teaching at the post-secondary level. When practicing teachers and undergraduate students inquire about teaching in higher education, I often pose the following questions to guide their decision making.
First, what are your short- and long-term goals? What do you see yourself doing in three years, in five years? Your answers will inform the next steps and the type of degree to pursue. If you want to work as an administrator in your district, then earning a degree in administration, pedagogy, or curriculum development is wise. If teaching at the community college level is the goal, then you will need to complete at least 18 graduate hours in the subject area and in some cases, possibly earn a master’s degree. If the goal is to teach at a university, then a doctoral degree is probably required. In my professional opinion, one purpose of an advanced degree is to help you to reach the next destination along your career journey.
Second, in what type of higher education institution do you want to teach? Not all post-secondary institutions are the same. There are many different types, and each has a unique focus and required set of job skills. The wide range of post-secondary institutions include: community colleges, teaching universities, emerging research universities, Tier I institutions, and private universities. Faculty members at a community college or a teaching university will spend almost all of their time engaged in teaching. Faculty members at emerging research institutions and private universities split their time between teaching and conducting research. Professors at Tier I universities focus primarily on conducting research and securing grant funding. It is important to determine how you want to spend your time. Fortunately, the job prospects for all types are good for the near future because many states are encouraging their high school graduates to pursue some form of post-secondary education. Since tuition at a four-year university is expensive, many high school graduates are beginning their educational studies at community colleges. As a result of this burgeoning influx of students, many teaching positions are now available at community colleges. The Carnegie Foundation has created a classification scheme outlining the various types of institutions: http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/faqs.php
Third, what types of teaching positions are available? After you have decided the goals, the degree, and the type of institution, you will want to begin monitoring job postings. Two main websites serve as a clearinghouse for open positions in higher education: The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/?eio=1 and Higher Ed Jobs: http://www.higheredjobs.com/ Early in their careers, prospective faculty members are encouraged to review the job positions in order to get a sense for the types of jobs available and the specific requirements for each position. By monitoring these websites frequently, the hiring trends in each field become evident. For example, the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are current “hot” areas and will continue to be so in the future.
In closing, it is always good to interview educators who teach at these levels and ask about the positive and negative aspects of the position. Some preconceptions about teaching in higher education are incorrect. Furthermore, visiting the career counseling center at your undergraduate institution is another good strategy. Trained professionals in these offices can give expert advice. Finally, maintaining membership in professional organizations, such as Kappa Delta Pi, will provide online and in-person networking opportunities and ongoing professional development that will help as you seek to secure a teaching position at the post-secondary level.
Network with professors and graduate students through KDP Global.
Friend the KDP Grad Student Facebook page.
Visit Education Week’s Career Corner blog frequently or sign up to be notified when something new is posted.
As you finish a master’s or doctorate, you may be wondering how to narrow your search to find a school that fits you. Work with your mentor and network with others you know who recently graduated. Don’t just look at the job description, but do some research on the school, the school of education, and the other faculty members.
Possible websites to use:
Higher Ed Jobs
The Chronicle of Higher Education Job Listing
Education Faculty Jobs
Along with your search you will want to spend some time watching the following webcasts which can be found in the KDP Resources Catalog Higher Education area:
Entering the Hallowed Halls of Academia
Learn essential insights into the process of moving from doctoral candidate to assistant professor and the culture and expectations inherent to higher education. Drs. Morowski and Castro share tips for preparing a vitae, interviewing, selecting the right institution, and surviving the first year in academia.
Survival Guide for New Faculty Members
New or aspiring professors will hear examples and scenarios to help them become prepared to be a faculty member, advocate for what they need to be successful, and implement strategies for success. Drs. Bakken and Simpson also discuss choosing an institution, making time for research, documenting progress, fitting in service, and finding balance between family and work.
Plan, Achieve and Succeed: The Transition from New Professor to Promotion and Tenure
Tenure/promotion decisions are critical, so it is important to plan steps in order to achieve that next goal. This webinar will provide practical insight from the perspective of both a first year tenure-track assistant professor and a seasoned, tenured professor on successfully walking the path of academia. Whether you are at a research institution or a teaching college, there are commonalities that all new faculty experience.
It’s Worth the Ride: Moving Up in Academia
Whether it is moving up a rank, asking for a merit raise, or going for tenure, this webinar presents advice about getting to the next level. Professors Dr. Rea Kirk and Dr. John Nkemnji explain the importance of committee work, involvement in professional organizations, and community service, as well as having the right relationships with students, colleagues, and administrators. Hear the official and unofficial requirements for rank, salary, and tenure.
Writing a Dissertation: Am I Ready for This?
Learn the joys and pitfalls of dissertation writing and what it takes to write at the doctoral level. Specific tips on how to improve expository writing helps those new to the process. Writing rubrics and chapter guidelines are made available for those already in the midst of the journey. The following themes are explored: questioning prerequisite writing skills, polishing your writing, fulfilling the components of a dissertation, and scrutinizing your attitudes about writing.
5 Tips for Getting Published
Presenters discuss how to take your teaching knowledge and classroom successes and turn them into a published article. With the guidelines, suggestions, and inside tips from these published presenters, you'll discover how easy it can be to add "published author" to your list of accomplishments! They offer article examples, samples of publications, and a brainstorming exchange of topics.
So You Want to Publish? Increasing Your Chances and Avoiding the Pitfalls
Whether you are under the academic pressure to “publish or perish,” or a classroom teacher with great ideas to share, this session offers practical ideas for publishing your work and enjoying the process. Two teacher educators with publishing experience help you to find an appropriate outlet for publication, write a quality manuscript, survive the review process, and celebrate your published work as it is shared with others.
A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members: Outlining the Keys to Success for Promotion and Tenure by Jeffrey P. Bakken and Cynthia G. Simpson (Charles C. Thomas, 2011)
This extremely well-organized and useful guide for new faculty members focuses on all aspects of becoming a new faculty member starting with choosing the right institution and how to get there and including the various expectations in completing a successful journey toward promotion and tenure. The book underscores the importance of recognizing the three facets of faculty life of teaching, research, and service. Prospective and new faculty are provided with a solid, practical introduction to building a foundation for success in higher education.