Average Salary for a Tenured Community College Professor
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.
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. The most recent Community College Faculty Survey (2007-2008) showed that the average 10-month pay for the 192 colleges and 30,658 full-time faculty ranged from $46,858 to $57,599.
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.
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:
- Have education beyond a Master's.
- Have a higher rank because they have worked at the school longer.
- Teach science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) classes, or in another field that the college has difficulty finding instructors to teach.
- Work during the summer teaching classes beyond the regular 9 or 10-month contract.
- Teach extra classes beyond the number required by the job (sometimes available).
Facts About Community College Students
first in family to go to college
not U.S. citizens
employed full time (full-time students)
employed full time (part-time students)
employed part time (full-time students)
employed part time (part-time student)
receive financial aid
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.
- 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.
- Look for other job opportunities on the Community College Finder map, located on the website of the American Association of Community Colleges.
- 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.
- 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
Increase in enrollment (Fall 2009)
Average full-time tuition and fees (2011-2012)
Associate degrees awarded (2008-2009)
Revenue sources (2008-2009)
State 34%, Local 20%, Federal 16%, Tuition 16%, Other 13%
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
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.
Highest Average Salaries for Full-Time Professors
Average Salary $119,100
Average Salary $111,200
Average Salary $98,300
Average Salary $93,300