May 12th, 2015
One of the questions I’m often asked by graduate students is whether it’s possible to parlay a teaching job at a community college into a full-time position at a four-year campus. A fair number of grad students seem to have the idea that — since jobs at four-year institutions are hard to get — maybe they can start out at a community college and then “move up.”
I’ll answer the question, but first let me point out: Full-time, tenure-track jobs at two-year colleges aren’t that easy to come by, either. In fact, I’m not sure they’re any easier to get than jobs at four-year campuses.
When I go around the country talking about community colleges, I usually explain that they make up about 40 percent of the faculty job market, and that that proportion is likely to grow in the near future. My message there isn’t that students should consider the two-year route because it’s less competitive. My point is that, if they want a full-time job in their field, they would be unwise to dismiss out-of-hand nearly half the available openings.