I have both an MA and an MS in Mathematics and would like to teach community college or college level mathematics. The problem is that I have no teaching experience, and so far I have not even been able to get adjunct positions. I would go for a PhD for the purpose of increasing my chances, but am not really interested in research.
I recently discovered some certificate programs for community college/post-secondary teaching which include a one course teaching practicum. I am interested in knowing about experiences candidates may have had with such programs and if such a certificate would be taken seriously when it comes to being hired. Also, would high school teaching experience have any weight in obtaining community college/college teaching positions?

  • 1
    Did you not TA for classes when you were in grad school?
    – Michael
    Apr 6, 2017 at 20:47
  • I did a post-secondary teaching certificate and I thought it was very helpful. But I cannot comment on how it is viewed in the job market. Apr 6, 2017 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


I teach at a community college in the Los Angeles area and have worked on part-time and full-time hiring. The following is based in my experience and may or may not apply to you.

Based on the hiring practices where I work, a teaching certificate does not carry much weight. At most it might be a good sign that a candidate was not looking for a community college job as a short-term stopgap, but instead was serious about teaching as a career.

If you want to signal to a department coordinator, dean, or hiring committee that you're serious about teaching, there are much easier ways to do that than getting a certificate. Just put some work into writing a cover letter that comes off right. Don't list your publications or talk about research. Explain honestly why and how you know that teaching is what you want to do. Describe concrete experiences that have convinced you of this.

so far I have not even been able to get adjunct positions

In my geographical area and field (natural sciences), adjunct positions are absurdly easy to get, provided that you meet the minimum qualifications. Every science department at my school is always desperate for adjuncts willing to work for the scandalously low pay we offer. If you're qualified and we don't hire you, a dozen other community colleges in the area will snap you up. We frequently hire people who are woefully underqualified or known to be flaky.

If you haven't had any luck so far getting an adjunct position, here are some things to think about:

  • Are you in an geographical area where there are many such openings every year?

  • Are you getting interviews and then not getting hired? Are you not getting interviews? This will tell you whether the problem is with your paper qualifications or with something you're doing wrong when you interview.

  • Is it possible that someone is giving you a negative reference?

  • Have someone look over your job letter and c.v. and give you comments. You may be doing something that is sabotaging your chances. E.g., there may be grammatical errors in your job letter. Make sure your application materials connect the dots with the requirements listed in the ad.

  • In my district, we require people to submit undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Often when we look at these transcripts, we see signs of trouble. Is this the case for you?


In regards specifically to the value of a post-secondary teaching certificate, this would help you as the practical teaching portion of one course - as well as hopefully the pedagogical teaching portion - at very least moves you from "no experience" to "some experience", and signals that you are interested in teaching. Both are certainly very important at teaching-focused institutions. If you also had TA experience at all during your studies, of course, you should include that under teaching experience (but I was assuming you'd mention that if you experienced it). It is in no way guarantee of getting a teaching job, but you can reasonable ask the program if they can direct you to people who gained the certificate and took jobs at a community college to see if you can email them, ask about any stats they keep on people who've obtained the certificate there, etc.

For teaching high school, yes this would certainly help in terms of community colleges and would absolutely count as teaching experience. Most instructors I know at community colleges actually were high school teachers at some point. My own undergraduate University actively recruits high school teachers - including retired ones - who have a masters degree in their subject to come and teach introductory classes for them. They need a masters because the state/institution requires it, but otherwise they just want the teaching experience.

One of the reasons teaching experience in high school can be of interest is because...well, there really isn't a world of difference in freshman taking first year math and high school seniors, because most of them just got out of high school anyway. There are certainly differences, especially the part where some of your students are older and may have been out of high school for years, but the experience is expected to transfer at least partially. It isn't as good as previous experience teaching in college, but it beats zero experience by far.

Your area may have substitute teaching programs which need willing, able, responsible people (read: people who will show up when told and won't be an embarrassment, and accept the humble pay), so you might check into that as well to help you move from "no experience" to at least "some experience". If you are interested in high school teaching you might need to ensure your area doesn't specifically require teaching certificates (high schools in some areas require more specialized certification in teaching than Universities), however - and admittedly how to get a job as a high school teacher is well beyond the scope of this site.

  • This answer seems to have no understanding of a post-secondary teaching certificate. It has nothing to do with a secondary education teaching certificate. Apr 6, 2017 at 21:21
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I actually mis-read the part where it explicitly mentioned post-secondary teaching certificate with a practical portion, which changes this part of my answer. I'll update appropriately.
    – BrianH
    Apr 6, 2017 at 21:38
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I've edited the answer to more properly reflect OPs situation, and not my misunderstood version of it. Let me know if it more correctly reflects your experience with post-graduate teaching certificate courses, etc.
    – BrianH
    Apr 6, 2017 at 21:47
  • I think I understand what you're trying to say with "For teaching high school, yes this would certainly help in terms of community colleges and would absolutely count as teaching experience" but maybe a little more editing would make for an easier read? Apr 8, 2017 at 5:53

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