What You Never Knew About a Career in Higher Education
Recent graduates can be forgiven if the last place they want to look for work is on a college or university campus. After all, they just spent at least four grueling years in a similar environment prepping themselves to head out into the “real” world. But be careful not to give short shrift to a higher education career. There’s a lot to ponder about in academia. For some, there’s nothing better, and here are a few reasons why.
Don’t Want to Be a Professor? No Problem
For those of you who yearn to nail that Ph.D. diploma on your office wall and lead a college classroom into the next generation, awesome! Get to it. For the rest, don’t overlook the fact that there are higher education career opportunities that have nothing to do with a professorship, and many don’t require advanced degrees. In fact, many teachers are starting with just a certificate, and then pursuing teaching degrees online while continuing to work in the field and build their resumes.
A Bachelor’s Will Often Do the Trick
We’re talking about the plethora of positions that need filled outside the classroom but which are critical to day-to-day operation of the institution. Here we’re thinking about administration, project management, human resources, the finance department, media, and many more. Think of a university as a corporation. The jobs to be found are similar to a business when you start digging.
Continued Cultural Access
There’s no disputing the fact that easy access to an abundance of cultural entertainment and educational offerings is a big draw on campus. You might miss these opportunities once you head off-campus to work. Staying plugged into the academic field with your career provides a free access or discounts to attend these events. And while it might sound silly to say, there is a particular energy and vigor on a college campus that is difficult to find elsewhere in the private sector.
More Than a Paycheck
Many colleges and universities operate on a non-profit basis, and even the ones that don’t have a vested interest in pushing forward the boundaries of education. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the military, it’s more than a paycheck. Whether you work with fundraising, managing a residence hall, advising students, or on a special project, you know that you are part of educating the next generation of earth’s citizens. In our opinion, that’s heady stuff.
Then There’s Teaching
Teaching is the first thing that springs to mind when one considers higher education employment opportunities. Earlier we mentioned instructors who choose to get their doctorate degree. While a university would love to have a Ph.D. in every classroom, that is an unattainable goal for most institutions. The reality is that there are lots of teaching opportunities for those with a Master’s and, yes, even a Bachelor’s Degree. Someone has to teach the general education classes in English, History, Math, and more, and you can bet the ones with a Ph.D., will do their best to insure it isn’t them. Then there’s the whole world of community colleges.
It’s a Nice Schedule
It’s not unusual for a good number of university or community college teachers to be employed on a per-course basis, where they get paid $3,000-4,000 or more (or less) per class per semester. This makes for the kind of schedule that appeals to many people. Plus, each new semester offers the opportunity to move onto different subjects if you get burned out on one. The essential point is that you can earn a full-time living while spending only three or four hours per day in an actual classroom.
The Bottom Line
We would the last ones to claim that a higher education career would be a perfect fit for everyone, but don’t discard the idea out-of-hand. Whether you’re interested in work in or out of the classroom, a college or university campus offers a diverse, invigorating employee experience with perhaps less pressure than the everyday work world. There might be more to this career than you thought.