Average Salary for a Tenured Community College Professor

Updated on June 19, 2020
VirginiaLynne profile image

After over 20 years of teaching college English, VirginiaLynne loves to share tips, teaching plans, and information about the profession.

Learn all about what community colleges professors make on average.
Learn all about what community colleges professors make on average. | Source

Starting Community College Salaries

The starting salary for a tenure-track position is between $40,000 and $60,000. If you have a doctorate, teaching experience, industry experience or teach in the STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) areas, you may get a bit more. Of course, where you live and the cost of living affects salary too.

Community College teachers often teach more classes but don't need to do research and can get tenure more easily.
Community College teachers often teach more classes but don't need to do research and can get tenure more easily. | Source

Average Salaries at 2-Year Colleges

As the map below shows, some average salaries for tenured faculty can be as high as $100,000. However, that is not the norm. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an instructor at a community college has a mean salary of $70,080. Local, government-owned college pay the most, $77,750, while state government-owned pay the lease, $53,070. Of course, where you work makes a big difference in the salary you earn. Faculty members teaching in colleges on the coasts make more, while those in the south and midwest tend to make less.

If $51,000 is approximately the average salary, what can you expect to make during the course of your career? Each school is different, but a reasonable estimate of the salary of tenured faculty would be:

  • Starting salary: $40,000 to $50,000.
  • Mid-career salary: $50,00 to $70,000.
  • Late-career salary: $60,000 to $120,000.

Generally, the salaries will be similar to what would be given to public school teachers in the same area who had the same educational level, or perhaps a bit higher.

Community College teaching can be rewarding.
Community College teaching can be rewarding. | Source

What Determines Pay?

Since around $50,000 is the average for tenured faculty, what can make a salary lower or higher? According to the Community Colleges report, there are differences in how 2-year schools calculate pay rates, but frequently, professors will get higher amounts if they:

  1. Have education beyond a Master's.
  2. Have a higher rank because they have worked at the school longer.
  3. Teach science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) classes, or in another field that the college has difficulty finding instructors to teach.
  4. Work during the summer teaching classes beyond the regular 9 or 10-month contract.
  5. Teach extra classes beyond the number required by the job (sometimes available).

Here are some of the specialties with the highest salaries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Political Science: $85,050

Physics: $87,390

Law: $86,980

Engineering: $91,130

Social Sciences: $94,410

2020 Community College Students

Student Attribute
part-time students
full-time students
under 22
over 40
first in family to go to college
single parents
not U.S. citizens
Students with disabilities
Full-time students, Full-time work
Full time students, Part-time work
Part-time students, Full-time work
Part-time students, Part-time work
White ethnicity
Hispanic ethnicity
African-American ethnicity
Asian ethnicity
receive financial aid
From "2020 Fast Facts" published by the American Association of Community Colleges

Why Become a Professor?

How to Find Pay Rates at Different Schools

Knowing the average salary is a starting point in deciding whether or not you would like to train for or apply for a job. However, if you are actually planning to apply for a job, you might want to know:

  • What schools are available to work for in your area or state?
  • What are the salaries at those 2-year colleges?

To find this information out will take some digging. Luckily, since they are usually public schools, employees are often state employees and the colleges have to follow all the state rules for releasing information. In addition, many have unionized faculty, so you can often find out information on the website of the school. Here are some places to check.

  1. Start by looking up the" Human Resources" or "Jobs Available" listings where you want to work. You can often find the salary listings for that school on a web page if you look around.
  2. Look for other job opportunities on the Community College Finder map, located on the website of the American Association of Community Colleges.
  3. Another source for salary information is looking up the State Community College Unions website. Here is a list of websites for local contacts at unions for California Community Colleges.
  4. Some 2-year colleges actually will give you the salary information when you apply or when you ask for the information.

Facts About Community Colleges

Number of 2-year colleges in U.S
Average yearly decrease in enrollment 2010-2020
Average full-time tuition and fees (2019-20200
Associate degrees awarded (2017-18)
Revenue sources (2017-180
State 33%, Local 20%, Federal 11%, Tuition 27%, Other 7%
Where are these schools?
rural areas 37%, urban areas 39%, suburban areas 29%
Average hours of teaching for faculty (2004)
18.1 hours a week
Average contact hours (hours taught times number of students)
Largest college system in the world
California Community Colleges with 2.5 million students and 109 colleges
Job satisfaction of Instructors at Community Colleges
73% found work very satisfying and meaningful
Data from surveys taken by American Association of Community Colleges, MLA 2006 Committee on Community Colleges, and 2004 National Study of Post-secondary Faculty Reports Community College and 2020 Fact Sheet from American Association of Community Co

Community College vs. University Job

Community College professors often come from graduate schools at Universities and may have planned a tenure track University career. In fact, 20% of all members of the Modern Language Association teach at community colleges. Some chose that route, and others fell into it after they could not find a job at a 4-year college.

While my husband and I work at a large private University and enjoy our jobs, I often think my brother, who works at a California community college, has a better job. In fact, I advise my own children, and the students I teach, to seriously consider choosing a career as a 2-year college professor. Why? Here are the advantages:

  • Very high job satisfaction rate (74%) according to the National Survey of Community College Professors.
  • Few or no research and publishing requirements in order to get tenure and keep your job.
  • Challenging teaching environment with students of all ages from a variety of backgrounds and with unique and varied work and life experiences (see chart).
  • Good support for teaching innovation and using technology in the classroom.
  • Easy and quick tenure process. Often tenure is granted after just a couple of years.
  • Connection with Community. Community College professors are often seen as resources in the community on the topics they teach and may be asked to give lectures or connect with the feeder K-12 schools for their school.

Trends in Community Colleges

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment prospects for community college instructors will continue to grow through 2026, which is a higher growth rate than many professions. The reason for the change is that people often need more training and education to keep up with changes in the job market. While a community college salary can sometimes be less than salary in industry, the rewards and job stability can make this a rewarding profession.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • I just immigrated from India to Ardsley, NY. I am an associate professor of English with 26 years of teaching experience. I would like to know how I can apply for tenure in a teaching position?

    In order to get tenure, you will need to be employed at a college or university that offers a "tenure-track" faculty position. Tenure-track positions are full-time positions and will usually be advertised as "tenure-track" when you see the job announcement. There are many lecturers or adjunct positions in community colleges and universities that are either part-time or full-time but do not offer tenure. If you are not certain, you should ask the human resources (HR) department about tenure in your position.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Marc--do you mean the average rate of pay for part-time faculty? In all my looking through data, I didn't find anyone who had looked at that, which is a shame because so very many people are attempting to make a living off of one or more part-time adjunct positions. I do know that in California, at my brother's Community College they pay by the hour. At the Community college near me, they pay by the class, and it is around $2000 a class. That isn't very much for the amount of work that is done. You have brought up such an interesting question. I may have to delve in and try to find some information!

    • Marc Rohde profile image

      Marc Rohde 

      7 years ago from Racine, WI

      I'm curious if you found any information around the stipend that is offered to the part time adjunt professors. I have looked into this and have yet to find good information around an average rate of pay.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Donnah75--you've brought out a great point which I should probably talk about in another Hub. Many times, a master's, especially with some practical work experience, can get you a job as at least an adjunct professor in a Community College. It really depends on the openings. It certainly doesn't hurt to call and ask, or look at the job listings on the website. Lots of my friends do adjunct teaching on the side for extra money. A lot of the classes not filled by tenure track professors are on weekends or nights, or even online.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great topic. I am teaching an Eng 101/102 course this year to a group of hs students who will receive credit from the local community college. It is making me wonder if I want to take on teaching some classes at the college, but I wonder if a master's in secondary ed is enough to get the job. Voted up and sharing.


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