What Is an Adjunct Professor? Job Description, Pros, and Cons


What Is an Adjunct Professor? Job Description, Pros, and Cons


The teaching profession lends itself to flexible work options in numerous, wonderful ways. Secondary school teachers, college instructors, and even corporate trainers all fall into the broad category of teaching and education professionals.

However, being a full-time teacher means full-time responsibilities, which not everyone wants. If you’re interested in teaching part-time, consider becoming an adjunct faculty member. These part-time professors teach a few classes each semester in a subject that they love.

What Is an Adjunct Faculty Job?

Sometimes called contingent faculty, adjunct professors are part-time professors. They are not considered part of the permanent staff, nor are they on the path to a tenured position. As a contract employee, they are free to create a teaching schedule that works for them.

Some teach only one class; others take on many. They may accept assignments at multiple schools or even hold a day job. When the term ends, the adjunct is free to pursue new teaching positions at the same school or different ones.

While they do not have the same responsibilities of full-time, tenured professors (conducting research for the university, for example), adjuncts perform many “regular” tasks associated with teaching a class. These include:

  • Preparing lectures and discussion questions for class
  • Assigning reading and practice material
  • Conducting office hours
  • Providing constructive feedback for students
  • Administering exams
  • Grading coursework

What Qualifications Does an Adjunct Need?

Adjuncts need to be well-versed in their field. However, a passion for the subject matter is not enough. Adjuncts need at least a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate in the subject. They also should have some previous teaching experience, and, if possible, “real world” experience, so students gain a deeper understanding of the subject.

What Skills Does an Adjunct Professor Need?

Adjuncts should have more than a desire to teach students. They also need practical skills, such as:

  • Good communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Excellent public speaking skills (or presentation skills)
  • Technology skills (not only email but the ability to create and share documents and other course materials, for example)
  • The ability to design a course, run a classroom, and create course materials that align with the university’s teaching guidelines

The Pros and Cons of Adjunct Teaching Jobs

An adjunct teaching position can be the perfect fit for many types of teachers. However, there are pros and cons you should consider before jumping in.

The Pros of Being an Adjunct Professor

  • It’s a good way to test out teaching college-level classes as a career choice before committing to the field.
  • The job is flexible. Adjuncts generally have the freedom to teach as little as one class a semester, giving them time to pursue other interests or spend time with family.
  • They do not have to do the things full-time professors have to do, like attend meetings, conduct research, supervise graduate students, or publish papers.
  • Because full-time professor positions are rare, working as an adjunct lets you teach while you search for a full-time position.

The Cons of Being an Adjunct Professor

  • Adjuncts earn far less than regular professors.
  • Because they are part-time and contract workers, adjuncts do not get benefits.
  • Adjuncts usually don’t get their own office on campus, making it difficult to hold office hours and work with students.
  • There’s no guarantee that you will have a job after the end of the term.

Who Hires Adjuncts?

Colleges and universities hire adjuncts, as do community colleges. Unlike tenure-track positions, applying for adjunct jobs are very different.

When you apply to be a tenured professor, there is usually a lengthy hiring process. It involves a formal search process, hiring committees, multiple interviews, and extensive review of the applicant’s scholarly history.

Adjuncts, on the other hand, can simply apply at the schools near them and add their name to the candidate pool. An applicant will be vetted (there is a little bit of an interview process), and will be notified when the school has determined how many adjuncts it needs and in which subjects.

A few employers that hire adjuncts through FlexJobs are:

Find an Adjunct Faculty Position With FlexJobs

Adjuncts occupy a unique place in higher education. They fill in the gaps to ensure that every person who wants to take a class, can. As a flexible, contract position, an adjunct teaching job isn’t right for everyone. But for those in search of a job that lets them teach on their terms, an adjunct faculty job may be the right fit.

We’ve got job postings for adjunct teachers in a wide variety of subjects. FlexJobs members have full access to the postings every day. Not a FlexJobs member? Join today and find the adjunct teaching position that’s right for you.




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