Full-time online professor pay

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by me again, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    In my area, FT community college professors make about 30,000 a year or maybe 1000 or two less, while FT professors at the State University make about 80 or 89,000 a year. So if full-time online faculty are making 50 to 60,000 a year, that seems to be right in line with the current market.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    A little out of date, but you get the idea: Make Money Teaching Online: How to Land Your First Academic Job, Build Credibility, and Earn a Six-Figure Salary: Danielle Babb, Jim Mirabella: 9780470100875: Amazon.com: Books

    There are plenty of others like it, it seems.
  3. jhp

    jhp Member

    How would one define competition in such agreement? I would love to see the wording, specially the definitions as it relates to online classes.

  4. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    I took off 8 weeks total.
    $68,800.00 gross. No benefits (well, two schools have retirement matching)
    Each school pays differently. Most by the course but some using more complex (student/week) formulas.
    Most at any one time was 10 courses.
    Yes, all online.
    Depends on the school.
    Not really. I log into each class 6 days per week.

    *I should also note that I wrote 4 courses as well (and included that in the gross salary amount).
  5. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    It appears most online universities don't have tenure, so employment is at-will.
  6. jhp

    jhp Member

    Thank you graymatter for the info.

    6 days a week, but no minimum contact requirements is doable, even from a beach... :D

  7. jhp

    jhp Member

    Any and all universities that offer similar classes online would fall under such non-compete, irrelevant of their geographic location. I presume the pool of universities are smaller as the course becomes more specialized, yet it is still huge!

    I doubt they would be able to enforce it in court, but the cost and bad name an instructor would get is a sufficient deterrent, right? Of course, it could backfire on a belligerent university...

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2014
  8. FJD

    FJD Member

    It's not really a matter of whether a court would enforce it because, at least as presented here, the prohibition is a condition of employment. In other words, it's what you agree to when you take the job. Now, if it was an agreement not to leave and go word for a competitor, it could be challenged in court and upheld if it the restrictions are found to be reasonable.
  9. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Walden hires full time online faculty. I had a one year contract with a salary of 65K. I was required to teach 5 courses per term and had 4 week vacation. I was required also to attend meetings and perform administration duties.

    When you teach full time, you are not allowed to teach at any other institution. Walden actually checks that you are not listed as faculty anywhere else.

    I could live with 65K a year but the problem is that job security is very low with online institutions as contract renewals depend on enrollments.
    There are also no opportunities for promotion as faculty, you are given a flat salary and just yearly increments of 1 or 2%.

    The other issue is that B&M institutions do not respect online schools, it is not so easy to find another job if you only have Walden in your resume as a previous employment.

    If someone wants to make a career as an online adjunct, I believe is better just to teach at several institutions, not so much for the money but for risk management purposes. If one school goes down then you can rely with other contracts.

    I know few people that make a living as online faculty, a reasonable income is from 60 to 100K a year doing this.

    Kaplan is another school that offers full time contracts but the pay is rather low, less than 60K if I recall.

    If you become an administrator in an online school (e.g. chair or dean), the salary is better but there is a lot more pressure too. Chairs and deans at online schools play marketing roles as well, if the program(s) that you manage do not do well, you might not be offered a contract renewal. Chair positions at Walden pay in the 80K range.

    Hope it helps to give you an idea on the industry.
  10. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Not just they don't have tenure, there is no classification system such as in the B&M schools (e.g. assistant, associate and full). This means that you are put on a flat salary with no hopes of promotion. The only way to increase your salary is by taking an administration role (e.g. chair, dean, etc). However, these roles are even more risky than faculty roles, I had about 3 chair in a period of 5 years. Most chairs did not get their contracts renewed due to unknown reasons to me.
  11. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    At the online university that I'm familiar with, there are four ranks of adjuncts:
    1. Instructor (hired as entry-level part-time adjunct)
    2. Assistant professor
    3. Associate professor
    4. Professor (hired full-time)

    The entry-level part-time adjuncts form the pool where full-time professors are selected.
  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    You are right, some online schools provide titles. The question is, are these titles linked to a higher pay? Are the difference in pay significant among different ranks?.

    At traditional schools, promotions are based on seniority, performance and research. Associate level is given once tenure is achieved.

    I believe that online schools could be attractive places to work for if they provide permanent jobs. Salaries are lower than traditional schools but one can always move to Belize or Costa Rica for a cheaper life style.

    My issue is mainly job security. However, this could also be compensated if one teaches at two faculties. A strategy could be to teach in two areas to minimize the risk of lay-offs.

    In any case, like it or not, this seems to be the future of higher education. Tenure will die at some point and most positions will be contract.

    The tenure model is not easy to sustain in a changing world that requires a different set of skills all the time. The renewal contract is more efficient as the school can always lay off if there is no demand for a particular program.
  13. me again

    me again Well-Known Member


    It will be interesting to see what the academic landscape looks like in 30 years, due to the proliferation of degree holders at all academic levels, to include bachelors, masters and doctoral. Professional degrees (like the M.D. as an example) and technical degrees (such as an AAS as a radiological technician, as an example) may be the best kinds of degrees to get in the future to get jobs that make money.
  14. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Kids seem to be aiming more for professional degrees that lead to regulated professions such as CPA, MD,JD, DDS, etc.

    The reality is that the 60K you can get with a PhD in Business as a full time professor is very low compared to the 200 to 300K an MD can make nowadays.

    Computer related degrees took also a huge hit, very few people want to take IT degrees as entire IT departments are being outsource to India.

    The teaching business is also taking a hit, there are fewer tenure track positions and the growth is in low paid adjunct contracts or online teaching. There is a huge gap of pay between adjuncts and tenure track positions.
  15. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Even JDs are becoming incredibly common. Thirty or 40 years ago, who would have imagined that law schools would become so prolific? It has become an industry to produce more JDs than what the market can bear.

    Anyone who gets a PhD in business with the expectation of making a lot of money from it is, in many cases, disappointed.

    IMO the current educational model will continue to see a dwindling of tenure track positions because education is an industry i.e. teaching and producing graduates does not require tenure to be a successful business model in the education industry. Some of the research positions will obviously remain lucrative and tenured, but it may become more difficult to land those positions. Over the next 30 years, they may decrease by about half (but that's just a speculative educated guess).

    There may come a time when those with masters degrees can pat each other on the back, offering each other congratulatory accolades as they sip beer while standing around the lake, but the numerous degree holders may find themselves under employed nonetheless.

    We have seen a continuing (and complete) change in American society, from 1900 until now. In 1900, most Americans were laborers in agriculture. In 1920, Americans began moving into cities and away from the agricultural industry. Industrialization began to provide lucrative jobs to Americans in the middle of the 20th Century, but those jobs began to disappear from 1970 until the present. Now what will most Americans do for gainful employment? Most jobs are gravitating to the service industry i.e. health care, food, etc. The education industry continues to evolve in the midst of all these changes from 1900 until now.

    Having a masters degree or a doctorate is no guarantee of financial success, as it used to be, but you already knew that. I already have a government pension, so my full-time online salary is gravy and is banked, but I'm in the minority.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I was doing some calculations the other day and I am currently making the same money than 20 years ago (inflation discounted) after 3 masters and a doctorate. With an engineering degree alone, I was making more than 100K because overtime.

    Granted, I am in the education business that doesn't pay that much and am happier but not richer.

    For someone that wants money, I would say just get a good engineering degree and stay in industry. Maybe get an MBA but more than that is not worth it.
  17. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    The last undergraduate professor that I had told us not to get a masters degree. He said that there is a lot of snobbery in academia and he said that our time and money could be better spent on family and career objectives. He said that a bachelors degree is all they they need and he thought it was a waste for most people to go further. I agree with his assessment (for most people). His statement stuck in my mind for many years. For others, of course graduate work is a necessity.

    My brother is a traditional tenured professor. He went the traditional route, so I heard an earful about the snobbery in traditional academia. School X has the best PhD program and School Y is just a garden variety state school, so it's not as good. His statement stuck in my mind for many years. Nonetheless, he has played the game well and he gets many government and global research contracts. He trots the planet from his tenured U.S. position. Good for him. However, he is in the minority.

    My brother advised me not to pursue a PhD. That recommendation also stuck in my mind for many years. I ignored him and pursued it anyways and it's been a tremendous blessing, even though it just an online RA doctorate. I'm glad I got it, but if I could know in the beginning what I know now, I would not have embarked on that nutty journey. During the year of my graduation, the attrition rate was 85% e.g. only 15% graduated with a doctorate. Conversely, the online university that I work for is no longer hiring applicants who only have a masters degree. All applicants must now have a doctorate. It's a changing academic landscape. I was initially hired as an adjunct with just a masters degree (with experience in the field), but I was later hired full-time after I got a doctorate.

    All the average Joe needs is a bachelors degree. For others, of course graduate work is a necessity.
  18. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Same here, I completed a distance doctorate mainly to keep teaching as I also noticed the trend towards PhDs even just for adjunct positions.

    I did not go for a traditional PhD because the risks that they represent. My sister finished her PhD from a top school in Canada and could never get a tenure track. Few friends finished PhDs at local schools and they are professional adjuncts.

    For those interested in a professional adjunct career, getting a PhD from a no name school or PhD from a better school doesn't change much. Adjuncts are hired mainly because they are available at the right time and not because they hold a degree from a top school. At my school, I don't think we even know the schools from where our adjuncts got their degrees, we just hire them because they have a PhD and have good course evaluations.

    Salaries for full time online instructors are at the low end and also not so easy to get. A person with a BS can easily make the 50 to 60K that these positions pay. One might argue the flexibility they offer but there are many jobs that people do from home including accounting, programming,e-marketing, etc.

    If your goal is to become a full time online instructor, I think is a lot more cost effective to do one of those PhDs by publication from England for 10K that you can do even without a Master's. Take few graduate certificates or certifications in demand and this could give you the job. Most of the full time instructors at places like Walden, have their PhDs from no name British schools or online schools in the US.

    If my PhD cost me 10K and few publications and did not have to get a Master's, I think would be happy with the 60K that an online school pays. Online schools in any case prefer people with lots of working experience over people with fancy Phds, they know people with good PhDs will not stay for long and students tend to appreciate more than hands on approach.

    We should write a book on how to become a professional adjunct for under 20K, one could get a cheap BS from Excelsior by examination and a PhD from a place like University of Sunderland for 10K, the whole package would be under 20K and would qualify you to become an adjunct.
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    What about the traditional PhD programs that pay you to go to school? Of course, you're foregoing a potentially higher salary for a few years, but you're not going into major debt for your PhD.

    Maybe I'm a little bit biased being a TESC graduate, but it is a cheaper option than Excelsior if you know all of the loopholes.
  20. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    This depends on your age and school. If you work hard, you can probably make around 40K a year as a PhD student. This can be reasonable if you are in your 20s but can be hard if you are in your 40s.

    I can see a young PhD graduate from a decent school in his or her early 30s being able to profit from a residential PhD.

    If you are already 40 something and planning doing a PhD from a low tier school, I would not go as chances are that you might not be able to make it after graduation if you are aiming for a tenure track.

    If you are just planning to become a full time online instructor or adjunct, I think a part time PhD via DL is less risky.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2014

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