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Postsecondary Educators

What Postsecondary Teachers Do ?

Postsecondary teachers educate students at community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and four-year colleges or universities. They can teach a wide variety of subjects. Their teaching can be done in a regular classroom setting or in an environment related to the certificate the students are working toward. Postsecondary teachers can also conduct research, publish academic papers or books, and apply for grants to fund related research. Other postsecondary teachers may be graduate teaching assistants who teach classes while supervised by a professor. As well, postsecondary teachers can also work in smaller colleges and universities or in community colleges where they may have more time to teach and directly work with students. Key qualities a postsecondary teacher should possess include strong communication skills, critical-thinking skills, instructional skills, and writing skills, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012).

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Some people with a sufficient amount of work experience, but no formal degree, may be able to earn a position as a postsecondary teacher at a trade or technical school, according to the BLS. However, in most cases, a college degree is likely to be helpful. Becoming a postsecondary teacher initially involves earning a bachelor's degree in the subject area desired to teach. Next, completion of a master's degree in the subject a postsecondary teachers wants to teach in is required. Ultimately, postsecondary teachers should earn their doctorate degree, especially to be able to work at a traditional (four-year) college or university, according to the BLS. However, in some instances, colleges and universities may offer part-time positions to applicants who have earned a master's degree or are PhD candidates.

As well, it may be helpful to have previous teaching experience. Some candidates may gain this by working as a teaching assistant at the college level. Some postsecondary teachers may also have substantial work experience and continue to work full-time in another field while taking on a part-time employment position teaching at a vocational or college level, notes the BLS.

Career Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), the median annual wage for postsecondary teachers working nationwide was $64,290 as of May 2012. The lowest 10 percent of postsecondary teachers working nationwide earned less than $26,800 while the top 10 percent earned more than $145,340, according to May 2012 BLS data.

Employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020, a projected increase in occupational positions from 1.75 million to 2.06 million during this time, according to the BLS. Growth is expected as enrollments at postsecondary institutions are anticipated to increase and other postsecondary teachers may retire, creating new opportunities for those wanting to start teaching at this level.

Sources:

  1. Postsecondary Teachers, All Other, Occupational Employment Statistcis (May 2012), http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251199.htm
  2. Postsecondary Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-6

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