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How to Start Teaching Career at College Level

Home > Ask the Guidance Counselor > Teacher > What Steps Do I Need to Take to Teach at the College Level?

Question:
I would like to become a college professor, but I don't know where to begin. Can you tell me what level of education is required for this?

Answer:
Many teachers at the post-secondary, or college, level find their career to be very rewarding. Being a higher education teacher can be a much different experience when compared to elementary and secondary school teaching. Most of the students are older, are there because they choose to be, want to further their education, and are interested in the material. However, many college and university professors do not start out their careers at the post-secondary level.

Typically a teacher will teach anywhere in the K-12 level for many years and move up in grade level as they gain more experience and education. This is not meant to discourage you or tell you that you cannot begin a teaching career at the college level, but it does require a high level of education to start out.

While the educational requirements to become a professor can vary slightly depending on the type of institution where you are seeking employment, you will most likely need a master's degree in higher education or your specific subject area to be considered. Most large universities will only hire doctoral degree holders for tenure-track, full-time positions. A better place for you to begin, in my opinion, is teaching at a 2 year college where teachers have obtained a master's degree are considered for full-time positions.

Another option to think about is teaching courses in your area of expertise at a high school, prior to seeking jobs at colleges. You could teach at this level after obtaining a bachelor's degree in K-12 education. It would give you great experience in the field and may put you ahead of other job seekers since both colleges and universities prefer to hire teachers with experience. Good luck!

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