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Career and Job Search Guide
  

Postsecondary / College Teacher

Postsecondary teachers provide classroom instruction for students out of high school usually pursuing a college degree. Some students are not attending college but are obtaining a certificate in a particular specialty. Graduate student teaching assistants, technical instructors, and college or university professors are considered post secondary education teachers. Postsecondary teachers provide traditional classroom instruction, and many teachers at colleges and universities conduct research. Occasionally, businesses and government agencies consult postsecondary teachers because of their expertise.

Most postsecondary teachers work at colleges and universities. They often are placed in particular departments grouped by their field of study or specialty. They teach graduate students and students still earning a bachelor's degree. Professors could teach auditoriums full of students or work with small research groups. They have the same duties as other teaching professionals, and many university professors supervise graduate student research groups. Teachers at colleges and universities work with a variety of students since college and university campuses full or diverse groups of people.

College and university professors stay informed about updates in their discipline by reading academic journals, attending seminars, and socializing with their professional colleagues. Professors are also advised to conduct research. They submit their research conclusions to be published in academic journals or write books on their findings.

Many postsecondary teachers utilize computer technology in their courses. More professors are now posting assignments, notes, and schedules online. Professors also utilize email to communicate and make themselves available to students.

Many students are now taking courses taught over the internet. This type of education is known as distance learning, and more working students are utilizing this option. Professors are now faced with the challenge of adapting their current curriculum to be taught online.

The majority of college and university professors serve on committees that determine department policies, administrative procedures, academic policies, and course content. Many are involved with student and community groups. Some professors serve as the heads of departments, known as a department chairperson, adding administrative duties on top of their teaching responsibilities.

Professor research and teaching duties are usually determined by individual colleges and universities. Professor at universities spend more time conducting research than professors at colleges and 2 year junior colleges. Most college and junior college professors do not conduct a lot of research, but college and junior college professors teach more classes. Regardless of where they work, full professors, professors at the top of their profession, conduct more research than other professors and college level lecturers and instructors.

More post postsecondary teachers are now teaching at non-college schools where students, usually working professionals, receive specific job training or certificates. Students in these programs usually take online, weekend, or night classes. Most teachers involved with these programs do not have administrative duties and typically teach part time.

Many postsecondary teachers work for vocational or technical schools that provide students with specific job related training not requiring a bachelor's degree. Examples of training programs include auto mechanics, welding, and dental hygienic programs. Students are usually instructed in settings where they receive hands on training. Students still receive classroom instruction, but it is usually combined with real life simulations to enhance student learning. Many teachers at vocational schools make arrangements for students to obtain internships after completing their programs.

Graduate assistants, better known as teaching assistants (TAs), work in conjunction with professors to teach students attending colleges and universities. Graduate assistants are enrolled in masters or doctorate programs. Certain graduate assistants are responsible for teaching introductory classes, writing tests, and issuing grades. Some only assist professors by coordinating and presiding over study sessions or laboratory assignment and grading papers. Professors usually determine graduate assistants' classroom responsibilities. Groups of graduate assistants with individual specialties are sometimes assigned to large classes.

Work environment. Most postsecondary teachers enjoy their jobs since they are fascinated with the subjects they teach and research. They usually love sharing their knowledge with others who share their interest in similar subjects.

Postsecondary teachers usually enjoy flexible work hours. Most postsecondary teachers teach between 12-16 hours with the remainder of their time preparing lessons and attending meetings. They also usually set aside 3-6 office hours every week, so students can have an opportunity to meet with them to ask questions or express concerns.

Most classes are held during the day, but some are taught during nights and weekends. Students at 2 year junior colleges frequently teach night and evening classes since many students work during the day. College and university professors usually teach for 9 months with 3 months off to conduct research, spend time with their families, or pursue other interests.

In 2006, about one third of college and university professors were employed part time. These faculty members, commonly known as adjunct faculty, usually have other jobs while some teach part time at multiple colleges or universities. Graduate assistants usually teach part time since they are pursuing graduate degrees.

University professors often struggle balancing their teaching duties with their research interests. Many professors struggle since many spend a lot of time conducting research to improve their promotion opportunities, particularly at universities. Moreover, because of budget cuts, more professors are assuming administrative duties. Since online classes are becoming more popular, professors spend a lot of time preparing classes to be taught in an online forum and replying to student e-mails.

Graduate assistants enjoy flexible teaching hours, but spend numerous hours studying and preparing their dissertations. Teaching an entire class of college students can be very stressful. This experience can be invaluable since many intend to teach after completing their graduate studies.
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