I have a desire to teach at one of the colleges/universities in my area. I think my experience in industry and my own educational background would be an asset to an IT program. However, I'm finding that when looking for positions, all require previous teaching experience. This requirement exists at the technical college, local community colleges and two universities in my area.

I'd like to start by teaching a night class or two. How does one go about translating valuable industry experience (combined with Bachelor and Masters degrees) to the teaching requirements that are desired by the institutions?

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    You're not qualified for these positions. If you did a PhD, you would be more qualified educationally, and you'd also have a chance to get some teaching experience as a TA.
    – user1482
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:22
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    In the US and Canada, usually you would look for sessional instructor positions and apply. Look in the summer, when they are usually less strict about qualifications due to fewer students and faculty offering normal coursework. Many colleges do like it if they have industrial professionals associated with them.
    – Irwin
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:39
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    @BenCrowell, the unqualified comment seems unfair. Based on my graduate studies at a state institute, I had two courses taught by non-PhD instructors. Both of those people were from the industry. My undergrad studies had many non-PhD part-time, instructors - especially for the lower level courses like you'd see at the community college level.
    – HowToStart
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 18:24
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    @BenCrowell a Master's degree is qualification enough to teach, as long as the college will hire the person. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 18:34
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    @BenCrowell is reverberating the malignant and self-serving "union card" philosophy many academics have. remember neither "academic" nor "PhD" are synonymous with either "scholar" nor "expert" nor "effective teacher". Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 19:27

6 Answers 6


I've seen community colleges hire people with less than a master degree to teach IT. These people did have quite a few industry certifications, held respectable positions in the local community, etc. I heard people at the school saying "If anyone questions that person's qualifications, we have enough to support our decision." The CC in question was in a very small town, which I think had a lot to do with that decision.

In the end, your qualifications might be just fine. The issue is whether a school needs someone. The only way to know the answer to that question is to ask. Meet with the appropriate people at some local schools and explain your situation. It is quite common for schools to use adjuncts: partly because they are cheaper, and partly because they have current industry experience.

I have never seen a school which is angry when presented with an additional labor choice. So, you do no harm by scheduling a meeting to see if they would be interested.

As far as the teaching experience, that is more easily gained than you might think. You can see my answer here to a related question.


From my own personal experience, I recommend seeking out adjunct positions at the community college level. To get some teaching experience, I sought out a school in my hometown which also had apprenticeship-type programs and they were looking for someone to teach a semester's worth of courses for these students. All I had was a M.S. in engineering at the time plus some industry experience. Seek out the current faculty at some community colleges in your area and ask them if they know of any positions for which you could take on as an adjunct. As far as I know, the position that I was able to obtain was not advertised; I found out about it from a professor at the school.


Look for positions for sessional/part time instructors and apply.

An example posting might be Sessional Instructor or Adjunct Instructor.

Most of them require some evidence that you've done well in a similar course, so it may be prudent to have transcripts handy. It may also be prudent to email the department directly and say that you're interested in adjunct teaching and to ask about opportunities that they have, and to express your qualifications.


One thing no one has said: Being good at your job does not necessarily make you a good teacher. I have been the lead tech faculty for two good sized schools and have watched a lot of top-notch professionals flame out very quickly (almost including me!).

Make sure you look into the practice of teaching and have a plan so that when you go in for an interview you've got something to say about how you plan to approach your courses.

As for actually finding a job, universities ALWAYS need technical teachers. Don't listen to the pooh=poohers who say you can't do it without a Ph. D. In a lot of ways not having one but having boatloads of industry can work in your favor. You also seem to be thinking "IT," but lots of schools have programs in subjects like web design and they're hard pressed to find teachers! Take a good look at all of the curriculum offered and see where else you might be a good fit.


Get in touch with the institutions you mentioned and offer to substitute. Like everyone else, teachers get sick from time to time or have to go on leave for a variety of reasons after the term has started. When you offer to substitute, you are offering a solution to a problem that is almost an emergency--most professors do not have understudies (yes, large universities have TA's but smaller institutions were mentioned in the question0. Once you have substituted a bit, you will be in a better position to know if you like teaching and you will have at least a minimum amount of experience.

You didn't say whether teaching experience in your field is required, or just teaching experience in general. If it's the latter, you could go overseas and teach English (or teach in an ESL program) or take an education course that provided for hands-on experience.

But I think the easiest way would be to substitute. You could also contact high schools as well, they try to put an emphasis on IT when they can and someone with your industry experience--even if just a few days per month--would be a real catch.

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    How feasible substituting is may depend on the institution. Where I am, no outside substitutes are used at all. If someone can't make it to class, a colleague or student will substitute, or the class will be cancelled. My impression is that most U.S. colleges and universities are similar to this, but I may be mistaken. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:40
  • He specifically mentioned community colleges in his question. I think you will find that the requirements in such institutions are a little less rigid with no guild for the professors. But for the two universities he referred to he very well could come up against this obstacle.
    – user26732
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:43
  • @user26732, I appreciate the feedback. Would lower level teaching experience (high school) be relevant to a teaching position in a community college. I don't have a teaching license, which would probably prevent me from getting any such position in a public school district.
    – HowToStart
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 18:26
  • It would be much harder to get licensed to become a high school teacher than it would be to get a college adjunct teaching position. And no, the lower level teaching experience would likely not help that much, not compared to simply making the connections and applying.
    – Irwin
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 22:46
  • Rules are usually more flexible for substitutes. And there are always private schools.
    – user26732
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 7:44

It wouldn't hurt to find out who does the scheduling for the department, and meet with them in person. Tell them your career goals, and ask them to keep you in mind should any unexpected openings come up. Leave them a business card.

Nothing may happen for a year or two. But, sooner or later, a professor is bound to retire, or take a sabbatical, or be unable to teach because of an illness. A college may be all set on paper, but then have a sudden, last-minute need to hire an adjunct.

This approach requires a little bit of luck, and a mighty good first impression, but it could open a door for you down the road.

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