Employment Opportunities in Teaching
Although college professors are a part of an elite group and hold prestigious positions, the salary does not always correspond with the sacrifices made to get to that point. However, that factor does not deter individuals from wanting to enter the world of academia. There are many people working in the private sector that look forward to the day when they can leave Corporate America to work at academic institutions and help students become successful in their designated fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006), job opportunities for faculty are better than they were a couple of years ago, though many of these opportunities are for adjunct rather than full time faculty.
Although college professors are a part of an elite group and hold prestigious positions, the salary does not always correspond with the sacrifices made to get to that point. However, that factor does not deter individuals from wanting to enter the world of academia. There are many people working in the private sector who look forward to the day when they can leave corporate America to work at academic institutions and help students become successful in their designated fields. These individuals will save money for the future and commit themselves to earn the credentials needed in order to become a college professor. For many in our society, money is the primary motivator for career selection. However, those having a desire to enter education are intrinsically motivated. There is a deep desire to assist students from Point A to Point B.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010), job opportunities for faculty are expected to grow through 2020 at the same rate as the average for all U.S. occupations--17 percent. Analysts have predicted that postsecondary teaching jobs will grow as a result of increases in undergraduate enrollment as well as faculty retirements. Some additional predictions for employment opportunities for faculty positions include:
* Opportunities for postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to be good, but many new openings will be for part-time, adjunct, or non-tenure-track positions.
* Prospects for teaching jobs will be better and earnings higher in academic fields in which many qualified teachers opt for nonacademic careers, such as engineering and nursing.
* The fastest growth is expected in for-profit institutions.
* Educational qualifications for postsecondary teacher jobs range from expertise in a particular field to a Ph.D., depending on the subject being taught and the type of educational institution (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).
Postsecondary teachers instruct students on a variety of topics beyond the secondary level. Postsecondary teachers include college and university faculty, postsecondary career and technical education teachers, and graduate teaching assistants.
* College and university faculty. This is the largest group of postsecondary teachers. These individuals teach full- and part-time students at postsecondary academic institutions and conduct research in their designated fields. They are responsible for staying abreast of current topics and trends in their field and may be hired to consult to governments, businesses, nonprofit, and community organizations. College faculty members are grouped by discipline and may teach in a variety of platforms such as traditional classroom, online, or a combination of both. In addition, they may teach traditional students or working adults.
* Postsecondary vocational education teachers. This group of individuals focuses on providing instruction for jobs that require specialized training (e.g., dental hygienist, auto mechanic). Many of these teachers will work at organizations such as trade schools or vocational-technical institutes. Classes are usually taught in an environment where the students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience.
* Graduate teaching assistants. This group is comprised of individuals who assist faculty, department chairs, or other professional staff at colleges and universities by performing teaching or teaching-related duties. Many times the teaching assistant is a graduate student working on his/her degree in order to graduate, and becoming a full-time faculty member may be a career goal.
In 2010, there were approximately 1.756 million postsecondary teachers, and the majority were employed at public and private 4-year colleges and universities and in community colleges. Some worked at specialized institutes while others worked for state and local governments.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2010 that the hiring of adjunct faculty over full-time tenure-track faculty will continue to increase. Although this topic is very controversial, there are a couple of reasons why this practice has become popular. First of all, the government has reduced funding to academic institutions, which lessens their budgets. As a result, many leaders at colleges and universities are reluctant to make long-term commitments to the faculty. Also, there have been cases in which institutions have not solicited candidates for tenure-track positions. Rather, they have offered limited contracts.
In addition to the concern of reduced budgets, academic leaders have been concerned with recruiting efforts that will make up the difference in revenue. Given the changing dynamics of the postsecondary environment, many institutions seek short-term solutions to their scheduling needs. One way to address this concern is to hire adjunct faculty on an "as needed" basis. There is a labor pool that seeks out these types of opportunities. Individuals in this group will either find a select number of colleges to teach at or they will contract themselves out to several colleges in order to make a living.
Hiring Minority Faculty
Higher education has become concerned with the faculty shortage that was predicted to occur as a result of increased faculty member retirement. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is an entity that tracks important statistics regarding the field of education. According to their records, almost half of the full-time faculty members are expected to retire between the years of 2017 and 2025. There is a concern about who will replace these individuals once they leave. This is an opportunity for those colleges desiring to increase their pool of minority faculty applicants to implement diversity plans that attract qualified candidates within the various demographics. Replacing retiring faculty opens the doors for institutions to renew their commitment to diversification.
Fewer Minority Candidates
American universities are attempting to diversify their staff and faculty by hiring more females, racial/ethnic minorities, military veterans, and people with disabilities (Oldfield, 2007). "Effective recruiting and retaining ethnic and racial minority faculty members has been a major concern in higher education for the past decade" (Johnsrud & Sadao, 1998, p. 315). Rifkin (2003) claims that the number one reason cited for the slow growth of minority faculty representation is a small pool of potential minority...
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