Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where Addy becomes "Dear Addy"

Well, it's happened again. A blog reader has emailed to ask a question! This time it's about career advice (!) I got his permission to post his email, so here it is:

Hi there,
My name is Eager Teacher* and I want to be a college professor. I have been surfing the net looking for good sources on this topic. I am currently enrolled in an MBA program, that I am solely in to attain a "useful," masters.
My fear is that I am not going to be able to get a job teaching. I don't know where to start. I currently earn 60k/year as an accountant and I need to maintain this salary. I will have my masters done next year and I want to go right into teaching. Is community college or adjunct teaching my only option?
I was also wondering, what does teaching really entail? I want to be a professor because I want to teach, I am not as interested in research. I do understand research is crucial to being a well paid professor, so I can do it if i need to. Should I start now, what should I do research on?
What is an average week like? How many hours do you teach, and what else do you do? Do you work over the summer?
Like I said, I saw your blog and I thought I'd shoot you an E-mail. Thanks for listening.

My reply:

Thanks for your email. I would like to post your email on my blog if you don't mind so that others can give their input, as well. It sounds like you are in the business field (since you are getting your MBA). That is not a discipline I am too familiar with, but I would think that you need a PhD for most full-time positions. You can probably teach part time with an MBA, though. The most important thing you should do is to talk to some of your current professors to get more specific advice. If you earn a PhD and land a tenure-track job in business, you will certainly be able to earn more than your current salary. I know that the faculty in the business school at my university sometimes make double what I make! I'm sorry I don't have any specific advice- I think you are really better off talking to someone in that discipline. Let me know if you have other specific questions I might be able to answer.

His follow-up:

Feel free to post my E-mail. any input would be great. I do have more questions. I am trying to get a day in the life perspective, of what I might expect if teaching adjunct vs full time. Also, have you been published, if so, how do you start the process?

More from me:
For a day in the life perspective, it would actually be useful to read some more academic bloggers and hear about what we all go through on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I have published several papers. Since I am in a science discipline my papers are always based on studies I've done. You should look at journals in your discipline and see what kind of papers are being published. Hopefully some others will comment here!

If you have advice for Eager Teacher, please post some comments! This is the sort of thing that needs many perspectives....

*Obviously, my ridiculous "Dear Abby" style pseudonym!


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

First, I've been on the hiring committees for three different CC jobs. In order to be really competitive for even those jobs, a PhD or an MA plus a lot of teaching experience is necessary.

Second, If you aren't interested in research and want to make a living teaching, the community college is pretty much your only option, with or without a Phd.

I really think your reader's best option is to not quit your day job and apply for adjunct jobs before going into a PhD progam. Many people think they want to teach, but when they do it, it is very stressful.. so your reader should make sure the career fits before doing more grad work.

Anonymous said...

The reason that business school professors make more than say, English professors is that they can make more outside with a Ph.D. or DBA. I doubt that the writer is going to make sure than the current salary at a cc, which is his only option with an MBA. I agree that trying to pick up an adjunct class or two would be a good idea.