If you’re in need of a side hustle, you should consider a job as an adjunct teacher at a local college, or in the case of online classes, maybe even a distant one.  The entry barriers may be fewer than you think.

Colleges generally require teachers to have a master’s degree in the subject they’d like to teach or any master’s degree plus at least 18 graduate credit hours in the subject.  However, hiring committees may also consider candidates with alternative qualifications such as high school teaching experience or industry certification.  Past formal teaching experience is also usually not required—the interview will likely include a follow-up teaching demo. 

Here are the pros and cons of adjunct college teaching.

The Good Things About Adjunct College Teaching:

Fulfillment

If you love helping people (and especially love sharing your knowledge or skills), there’s no field as rewarding as education.  Ask yourself if you’ve sought out opportunities to teach informally—perhaps by training colleagues at work, leading a Sunday school class, or volunteer tutoring.  If so, you’ll probably find this work very gratifying.

Reduced Commuting Time

You generally only have to be on campus when your class meets and a bit before and after to answer student questions and/or hold office hours if they’re required by your school.  Most traditional college classes meet once, twice, or three times per week, and colleges are increasingly offering more and more online and hybrid (reduced meeting time) classes to keep up with the evolving way today’s students learn. 

Convenience

In the same vein as a reduced commute, much of the work—grading, preparing for class, answering student email, etc.—can be done at home.  This is handy because, as we’ll discuss in the next section, you’re probably going to need a separate full- or part-time job.

The Things You’ll Want to Consider Carefully:

Low Pay

It’s no secret that teachers don’t choose their careers for the money, but unfortunately adjuncts earn the worst pay of all.  They’re paid per class taught, not per hour worked.  The adjunct rate of pay at the college I taught at was $1,700 per class.  Classes are generally four months long (a semester), so the harsh reality is that depending on how much time your teaching duties take, you could end up making less than minimum wage.  This means that for most, adjunct teaching can only be a side hustle.

What’s more, colleges often limit the number of courses an adjunct can teach per semester—the one I worked for had a cap of three per semester.  You may be allowed to work as an adjunct at other schools (check with your college to make sure), but keep in mind that you might have to adjust your material to meet their requirements.

No Job Security

Adjunct teaching is contract work, so there’s no certainty about the number of classes you’ll get to teach or if you’ll even be hired next semester.  Also, the full-time faculty at the college are required to teach a certain number of classes each term, so if one of their sections doesn’t fill up, a class that was originally assigned to you may be given to a full-timer at the last minute.

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Possible Lack of Autonomy

In attempts to ensure uniform student experience and outcomes, your college may require everyone who teaches a course to use the same materials, exams, etc.  If so, full-time faculty are usually in charge of choosing and creating these items, so as an adjunct you may feel as though you don’t have much say in how your class is taught.  On the other hand, it’s easy to see how receiving a highly-structured premade course could be a blessing for first-time teachers.

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The Verdict on Adjunct Teaching Jobs

Did the cons in the last section scare you straight?  Just remember that although working as an adjunct is low on financial rewards, it’s big on personal ones.  While adjunct teaching is more viable as a side hustle than a way to earn a living, if you feel called to teach, it’s a great way to try out a career in education and make extra money without a big commitment.  In any case, please thank a teacher in your life.

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