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Prospects of finding a college level teaching position? Feeling unsure... help!!!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

So I'm going school for a fine art degree, and I think I'd love to go straight through and get an MFA to teach art/art history at the college level. (Right now I am at a small community college and starting to look into where I can/should transfer.) I'm about to start into my second year and I'm already having doubts about being able to get the job I want. I would change majors if I knew some other area would be more in demand when it comes time to actually get hired, but the other areas I'm interested in are things like french, english, humanities... and if I switch to one of those I feel like there wouldn't be any option other than teaching. If I stick with art, I can eventually concentrate on something that would be beneficial in case I *don't* end up teaching.


Ack! I hate this feeling of not even having a clear plan. If I had a supportive partner, I might not feel so unsure. Since the supporting of my family rests solely on my shoulders though, I feel like I need some sort of guarantee that what I'm doing will lead to a career that will provide both financial stability and fulfillment/happiness for me.


I have so many questions!!! So, if you are a professor, what did it take to get into that career? I feel like I have no idea what I need to be thinking about ahead of time... what do colleges look for when they hire??? How does one get into some sort of assistant teaching position? When I transfer, should I look for places with master's programs so I can do that and not transfer again? Or is it better to have a BFA at one place then the MFA from somewhere else? 


Anyone further along in this journey than I am.... does it seem very competitive?


Thoughts?! redface.gif tia 

post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well after a little bit of looking into teaching the arts it's looking more like I would need a doctorate to be taken seriously. That's discouraging to me, not because I wouldn't want to do that but because I wouldn't want to take out that much in loans. 


Still really hoping there is someone out there who has a little bit of insight into this!!.... 

post #3 of 6

I have three PhDs and still can only get a job at a community college. It is CUTTHROAT. If you want to teach university you've got to have an amazing career already in place, lots of publications, and know the right people. It's sad. You could become an adjunct at a small college or community college and wait for a position to open but but fine arts at community colleges typically have 0 or 1 full time faculty. Hate to give such down reply but I've been in the "system" of a small community college for 6 years now and it's pretty competitive even for this level. IF we were to get funding to open a position in this department (Im in science) we'd get a hundred qualified applications, easily.



post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Oh I wasn't even thinking university teaching, really. Thanks for the response. 3 PhD's, wow! bow.gif


Well what you said is kind of what I was afraid I might hear. I'm basing all my hope on what I see at the community college I'm attending now.... 2 full time main fine art faculty with a several other classes taught by what I'm assuming are part-timers. (I do know they're not assistants or anything, they have other careers in the arts and this is a supplemental gig from what I gather.) AND they were in the process of hiring another full-time instructor this summer, for new classes. 


I don't have anything to back me up already like the career and such, I'm pretty much starting from scratch right now. Guess I should lower my sights to teaching high school or elementary, if I really want to teach the arts still. Not that that is any less competitive, I'm sure. Ugh, how depressing. greensad.gif

post #5 of 6

I'm a humanities PhD (history) and defended 3 years ago. Don't go into the humanities with any expectation of getting community college/university level teaching jobs . . . ever!


Hate to be a downer. I've actually done better than most of my cohort because I got a prestigious semester-long fellowship then a two-year post-doc immediately after defending. But I'm not particularly mobile due to my DH's job (plus the fact that we love where we are). So now I'm on my third year of a post-docing, this time part-time. I was lucky enough to get an extension on the post-doc til the Spring and will get some adjuncting work for next academic year . .. but a tenured position is still a distant dream at this point.And, as I said, I'm still doing ok compared to my cohort because I've managed to stay employed since defending!


I realize you might not have been thinking about university teaching, but because you mentioned the community colleges, I thought I'd throw out that "even" community colleges are receiving applicants with PhDs from top universities (I'm not trying to be condescending here because I'm a big supporter of the community college system! It's just that PhDs tended to ignore community colleges in favor of applying at four-year colleges and universities in the past. No longer!)

The Chronicle of Higher Education and its online forums is a good place to start looking for information on what the market is like. If you'd like to go into arts teaching, you could look at teacher certification programs and maybe talk to some of the faculty and staff about what is required for certification, what the job situation is like, etc.



Good luck!

post #6 of 6

reading late -- fwiw: I work for a small state university. The art faculty here don't all have a phd. Some have an MFA.


My husband has a phd in history and has TONS of work right now. Too much. But none of it is tenure track. And his degree is from a very prestigious school in his field. But it works. And, well, he's working and has been teaching at the community college level for about 12 years now.

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