The Chronicle of Higher Education has released its annual salary survey of professors teaching at colleges and universities in the United States. According to this table, the salary range tops out at nearly $194,000 for a full-professor position at Harvard University. Adjuncts at 2-year colleges are landing in the $45,000 range.
Jamie's take on the eNotes blog can be found here.
Professors may sometimes make good money, but they are not always directly teaching students. Many times they are conducting research, and their actual courses are taught by TAs. Adjuncts make far less money. I make about $1600 a class for a six week class. At least it's better than when I got paid by the student!
My wife is full time faculty at a community college, and her salary schedule is in the low 50s for someone with her level of education and experience. Adjuncts make far less, $2100 per class per quarter, no benefits, and a limit of only two classes per quarter, or $12 - $14,000 per year. They've been turned into the teaching version of wage slaves, in my opinion.
True adjuncts at our local community college make money similar to the above posts -- $1500-$2000. There seems to be very little future in the job, especially in this current economy where teachers are being let go at an amazing rate. I can fully understand that the college is making their ends meet by hiring those who are willing to sign on for the gig for whatever motives they have. There are some very talented teachers who are doing this to make ends meet, but it is another sad comment about the value of teachers when one considers the hourly wage those teachers are earning, considering the college degree(s) they hold.
I make somewhere around that figure of the full-time professor, but my salary takes into account money that I bring in to the school from research and grants which allows me to hire additional people, use additional school resources and basically spend more money on the school than I normally would if I was not required to publish or expected to research 2 topics a year. I think it goes with the territory of what is expected in return for a salary of that amount.
I have also published books that bring in royalties far beyond the stated salaries. It all depends on what your goals in education are.
I worked as an adjunct for a few semesters teaching night classes to supplement my high school teaching salary. I made $1300 per class per semester. That was for entry level ENG 101 classes, but still, I had a degree under my belt and several years' teaching experience, so that should count for something. However, I knew the drill when I accepted the position. We all do...hardly any of us teach because we believed we would become wealthy overnight living in seaside mansions and eating bonbons. That having been said, I wouldn't mind a little raise every now and then to accompany rising gas prices and the cost of living...I am a professional who also needs to feed her children and put them through college.
I just took a look at those figures. They don't actually list "adjuncts" as a distinct category, and the definitions notes that all salaries are from full-time faculty:
Annual survey by the American Association of University Professors. The data for 2010-11 includes more than 1,300 institutions chosen by the AAUP. The salaries are rounded to the nearest $100 and adjusted to a nine-month work year. The figures cover full-time members of each institution’s instructional staff, except those in medical schools. (emphasis added)
I see a lot of discussion (in the comments) of how these figures exclude adjuncts, though, and discussion of just how much of a college's teaching is done by adjuncts.
Responding to Bullgatortail (#2) -
Sorry to hear you had a few adjuncts with lousy attitudes and teaching skills. Being an adjunct doesn't mean you're off the hook for basic teaching responsibilities. But at the same time, the school that relies on adjunct shouldn't expect adjuncts to be as invested in education as full-time faculty. And frankly, I've met plenty of full-time faculty who made no investment in taking the time to educate students or meet with them individually.
That being said - I agree with pohnpei397 about the adjunct salary. I have no idea where they get the figure of 45K salary, when most adjuncts are paid between $1500-2500 per course in my experience. They may have to commute to several schools to make a decent salary, or teach online at several schools, and most places do not extend benefits to adjuncts. To make 45K /year as an adjunct, one would have to teach on the order of 8 courses/semester, including summers, which is twice the teaching load for full-time faculty.
So why would anyone be an adjunct? The academic market is terribly competitive in most fields. Most people who do it are actively seeking full-time jobs, which is tough if you have to drive from place to place to teach, not to mention lacking an office and lacking time to do the research most institutions are interested in seeing when interviewing. Online adjuncting makes some of these aspects easier - at least the commuting - but one still does not have much in the way of institutional support.
I'll finish this by saying that yes, I'm an adjunct at three schools - all online these days - and I feel very fortunate that one place offers benefits. I do make a point of grading and returning student work within 24-48 hours of submission, and I answer every student email and I take an active role in class discussions. It can be done - but I wouldn't be too hard on the adjunct, not when there are a lot of full-time faculty who do a poor job already for a lot more pay, more benefits, and more responsibility.
As one who was an adjunct at a 2 year college, I have to say I wish I had made $45,000 (pro-rated for the fact that I was only part-time). If I taught a full-time staffer's load at the same rate I got per course taught, I'd have made a bit under $30,000 and that's with no benefits.
For me, it was fine because mine was a second income that I'm making in my spare time while being primarily a stay-at-home dad. But the kind of money I made was not going to cut it for anyone who was trying to support a family while trying to claw their way up to a tenure track position somewhere.
I have been taking classes at a local college which relies heavily on its adjunct professors. Although I had several who were excellent, I also was taught by two who apparently had no classroom training whatsoever. Both were undoubtedly experts at their craft (graphic design and web design), but both proved to be very hands-off when it came to working individually with students. One refused to grade any assignments for five weeks, complaining often about her low pay and "only being an adjunct professor." The head of the department finally read her the riot act after complaints from the students. Although I totally sympathize with public school teachers and their lowwww pay, I now question the use of some "adjunct professors" who have no business masquerading as real teachers. I can assure you, the two with whom I recently had to deal were overpaid--whatever their salary may have been.
I think beeing a proffesor is something that should be respected, because I think it means alot of learning and searching. I really had troubles with the proffesors who find it hard to explain lessons. They lack teaching techniques and presentation skills. I sympathize with them. They should be trained before standing infront of students. Even if their salaries were low they should do their best in lectures because they have already accepted this. If they are really facing a problem they shouldn't push or use the students for bringing them their rights, because the students have already paid alot.