Teaching at the college or “post-secondary” level includes a number of jobs performed by individuals working from varying levels in the faculty hierarchy. There are teaching jobs available at colleges that provide continuing education for graduates and teachers in technical academies that teach in a number of professional categories.
For the most part however, teaching jobs at the college level are held by the college or university faculty and graduate student assistants. There is a distinct pecking order as regards the role of teaching and the number of hours spent in a classroom. University professors, particularly those that are tenured, tend to devote more hours to research. Individuals in this position who can keep up with the latest developments in their fields may also consult in the private sector or for the government.
College faculty members also keep up with developments in their field through scholarly journals, communication with colleagues and conferences. Graduate students, while they may be engaged in extensive research for a thesis, provide a significant amount of the classroom presentation and often hold the day-to-day “teaching jobs” at colleges.
Higher education institutions are divided into departments according to the particular academic discipline. Teaching may range from lectures delivered to several hundred students (usually presented by a professor) to seminars and working groups of a dozen or more (usually led by graduate assistants).
College level teaching personnel make extensive use of computers, email and online technology. Major universities do almost all of their class enrollment online, some allocating hourly slots when the registration system is available to one class level or another. Papers are submitted via email, graded and returned electronically. While faculty members may try to make themselves available during office hours, email has become a highly effective support tool for student- teacher communication – especially in the larger universities. The teaching job at the university level involves a significant amount of electronic communication.
Distance learning has become a fixture on many of the nation’s campuses and for the most part, faculty members are not reticent to participate. Class notes and assignments are posted online and real-time communication via email can make the distance learning, or “online” education experience closely mirror many elements of the on-campus experience.
The traditional route to a faculty job while still studying is by acting as a graduate assistant while still enrolled in a masters or doctoral program. Graduate assistants tend to be passionate about their subject matter, infused with a little youthful enthusiasm that may have been left behind by tenured faculty long ago. Some professors, however, enjoy the give-and-take with undergraduates.
College level faculty jobs are won with hard work, tenacity and patience. All of those positions remain without tenure for some years. Some professors never receive tenure, which is granted by a departmental review committee. It’s akin to working sixty hours a week in a salaried position at a corporate law firm, only to be denied partnership after seven years.
Teaching jobs in technical schools and continuing education programs can be had without the traditions that bind the traditional universities. As increasing numbers of adults return to school, these jobs are often the most rewarding. The marketplace for college level teaching jobs is evolving as the work habits of American families are transformed.