College Instructor Job Description


Within colleges and universities, there is a distinct hierarchy of teachers. At the highest level, you'll find full professors who often teach courses and also serve as a department head. In the middle, assistant professors and associate professors have control over the curriculum in their courses and are usually active in administrative affairs. The lowest level is the college instructor, who is told by those above him what to teach in his classes. He also has little input in regard to how the school or department runs.

Teaching Duties

  • A college instructor teaches courses at the community or junior college level or instructs undergraduates in a university setting. She might teach anywhere from two to four courses each semester, and she is responsible for preparing for class, delivering lectures, facilitating discussions, doling out assignments, grading work and advising students. The instructor specializes in a certain discipline, such as physics, English or mathematics, and within that discipline she might teach more than one course title.

Miscellaneous Duties

  • In addition to teaching, a college instructor might also participate in research, write articles and books and assist, when asked, in administrative matters for his department or school. As a faculty member of a college or university, the instructor needs attend department meetings and keep up with developments in his field through collegial exchange, participation in professional conferences and the reading of periodicals and other literature.

Work Environment

  • College instructors spend some their time in their classroom but most of their time in their office or at home reading papers and grading examinations. Some use technology to their advantage and keep in touch with their students via the Internet and e-mail. In some cases, courses are taught over the Internet. College instructors can have a flexible schedule, but they may or may not be able to pick the classes they are going to teach each term. Instructors might work part time or full time. The campus environment can be a stimulating and interesting place for college instructors who enjoy exchanging ideas with colleagues, students and others.


  • Community colleges, junior colleges and universities generally require their college instructors hold a master’s degree in their field. Having a Ph.D., however, can make applicants more attractive. Employers seek instructors who have prior teaching experience, and many instructors get that experience by working as a graduate teaching assistant as they pursue their degrees.

    College instructors should be strong communicators who easily relate to students. They need to be encouraging, outgoing and motivating but also objective since they grade their students. Instructors need to possess self-determination and independence, since they will likely receive little day-to-day supervision.


  • As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 2008-09 survey by the American Association of University Professors found the salary for full-time college faculty averaged $79,439. They found professors earned $108,749, associate professors earned $76,147, assistant professors earned $63,827 and instructors earned $45,977.

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