Adjuncts: Over the past several decades, universities and colleges in the United States have depended more and more on adjuncts to carry out the institution’s teaching mission. Some people adjunct because they enjoy teaching and have retired or earn a good living at a regular ‘day’ job. Others adjunct because they are trying to get ‘a foot in the door.’ Instead of operating under contracts, they are hired and paid by the course. They sometimes are not given their own office space, and do not receive medical or otherbenefits.Instructors: Instructors may secure one-to-three-year contracts or find a permanent position. Typically,they are not expected to do research or service, but instead teach a higher number of courses than tenureline faculty. They may or may not receive benefits or research support.Tenure-line faculty: Following the completion of a Ph.D. (or sometimes during the course of trying to earn a Ph.D.), graduates may secure a tenure-track position; they now may work towards gaining a tenured position, typically applied for after five or six years of work. Since tenure-track positions are limited nationwide, new graduates can expect to potentially be on the job market for several years, hopefully occupying temporary positions as they work towards building publications. A willingness to relocate geographically is essential for anyone who intends to find a tenure-track position.
Depending on the institution, to achieve tenure, an assistant professor must be teaching classes that win high approval ratings from students, providing service to the institution, and publishing. A professor who has earned tenure enjoys a relatively high degree of job security. Currently, tenure-line professors receive benefits (medical, retirement, sick leave, disability, etc.).
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