Are you interested in making a career transition to higher education? If so, there are many things you need to consider before making the big move to ensure it’s successful.
These days, it is very common to make a significant career change at some point in your working life. After working in one area for a while, it may start to feel like it is time to make a change. You may feel challenged in your current role, or maybe you are a bit burnt out. Whatever your initial reason for desiring a career change, choosing to make a career transition to higher education is noble.
Professionals from all industries can become employed in higher education. Institutions of higher learning may strive to hire people who have practical work experience in the subject matter they will teach. Additionally, some colleges or universities are moving away from hiring academics and are beginning to hire more business or corporate working professionals.
Are you wondering why? Academics tend to hold PhDs in their specialty, whereas professionals from outside industries may only have master’s degrees, thus schools save money on their teaching talent.
It may be great news for a career changer like you!
Additionally, not all higher education jobs for career changers are found in teaching positions. Institutions of higher learning have lots of possible employment opportunities outside of the classroom. These include working in administration, admissions, human resources, student affairs, career development, and alumni relations, among others.
So, regardless of what type of higher education position you are seeking, you will need to do your due diligence.
Research the job postings and facilities you are interested in and conduct a focused and productive college or university job search.
Tips to make your career transition to higher education easier.
1. Do you need to go back to school?
The level of education required for working in higher education depends on the position and the type of college or university. Four-year undergraduate institutions often prefer their full-time professors to possess doctoral degrees. However, many colleges and universities are now hiring professionals with a master’s degree in their subject area as an adjunct college instructor. If you don’t yet possess a master’s degree, then you will need to return to school before applying for a position.
2. Teaching-related experience and subject-related expertise
Make sure to highlight any teaching-related experience you have in your job search documents. If you are a K-12 teacher transitioning into higher education, then this will be easy for you. If you are transitioning out of another profession, then make sure to highlight any training, presenting, or mentoring experiences you have had in the past.
Showcase your skills and expertise in the subject area you want to teach when writing your cover letter and curriculum vitae or resume. Colleges and universities want to hire professionals who are experts in their field. So, it’s imperative that you demonstrate your expertise.
If you are applying to positions within the campus but outside of the classroom, highlight your relevant skills and experiences to target the desired higher education position.
3. Start small and grow
Many aspiring professors set their sights on only traditional four-year college campuses. However, for new and aspiring higher education teachers like yourself, this can be a lofty goal.
Community colleges and local business schools are an excellent way to get your foot in the door of the higher education community. It is easier to find entry-level positions because they are smaller, more local establishments. You may discover the culture at these schools more welcoming, which may help to ease your transition into teaching in higher education.
4. Networking is the key to success
As with all jobs, who you know can make all the difference in finding and landing a new job. Start networking as soon as possible with your colleagues and members of your professional organizations. You can also look to past teachers and professors, and anyone you may know in higher education.
Make a LinkedIn profile and use this social network to help you find connections and research job opportunities.
Equipping yourself properly with targeted job search documents including a targeted cover letter when attempting to make a career transition to higher education will save hours of frustration.
Colleges are looking for subject experts, experienced educators, and those with expertise in teaching and training adult learners. When targeting your job search, keep these aspects in mind to ensure a successful career transition to higher education.
There are ways to achieve a salary increase in higher education when the time is right to approach this subject.