Adjunct Professor Salary by State (With Duties and Skills)

Updated July 26, 2023

A woman draws geometric shapes on a whiteboard, presumably for a class.

If you have a passion for teaching and are considering a career in higher education, it's important to learn about the various teaching options available to you. While most people are familiar with the role of a full-time professor, you can also choose to become an adjunct professor. Understanding this employee's duties and average salary can help you determine if this role is right for you.

In this article, we explain what an adjunct professor is and discuss the average adjunct professor salary at the national level and for each state.

What is an adjunct professor?

An adjunct professor or an adjunct instructor teaches at a higher education institution. The biggest difference between an adjunct professor and a full-time professor is that an adjunct professor typically works part-time under a contract. Although the schedule for an adjunct professor is more flexible than that of a full-time lecturer, the position isn't permanent. An adjunct professor uses this position to gain work experience and qualify to become a tenured professor eventually.

Related: How To Become a Tenured Professor in 9 Steps (Plus FAQ)

What does an adjunct professor do?

An adjunct professor teaches college-level students. Most adjunct professors teach entry-level courses, but this may vary depending on the needs of the department in which they work. For example, an adjunct professor may teach a higher-level course if there's a section for the term that the department needs to fill before the semester or quarter begins.

Adjunct professors typically have similar responsibilities to full-time college professors. Here are some adjunct professor job duties:

  • Teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses

  • Creating lesson plans and assignments for students

  • Maintaining a class syllabus that meets their college's standards

  • Grading various tests and assignments from their students

  • Advising students on how to better understand the curriculum and improve their grades

  • Keeping up with changes in their field of study

  • Working with other faculty members to enhance the curriculum

  • Grading students based on factors like assignments, examinations and attendance

  • Conducting research based on their field of teaching

  • Familiarizing themselves with and actively engaging with students

  • Planning meetings with faculty and students

  • Attending any training or department meetings

Read more: Learn About Being an Adjunct Professor

National average adjunct professor salary

The national average salary for an adjunct professor is $123,279 per year. Your salary as an adjunct professor depends on the school that employs you and its location. Your employer may also offer you a higher starting salary if you have a lot of professional experience in your subject of interest.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Related: 20 Part-Time Jobs That Pay Well

Adjunct professor salary by state

Your salary as an adjunct professor can differ based on where you live, as each state has a different standard of living and availability for these kinds of positions. Here are the salaries for adjunct professors by state. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit

  • Alabama: $29,608 per year

  • Alaska: $65,371 per year

  • Arizona: $51,496 per year

  • Arkansas: $27,949 per year

  • California: $139,041 per year

  • Colorado: $115,475 per year

  • Connecticut: $67,186 per year

  • Delaware: $63,369 per year

  • Florida: $76,923 per year

  • Georgia: $119,552 per year

  • Hawaii: $63,291 per year

  • Idaho: $59,961 per year

  • Illinois: $50,332 per year

  • Indiana: $103,921 per year

  • Iowa: $53,335 per year

  • Kansas: $25,795 per year

  • Kentucky: $60,285 per year

  • Louisiana: $37,899 per year

  • Maine: $63,558 per year

  • Maryland: $39,318 per year

  • Massachusetts: $135,998 per year

  • Michigan: $207,232 per year

  • Minnesota: $63,791 per year

  • Mississippi: $58,442 per year

  • Missouri: $24,512 per year

  • Montana: $59,565 per year

  • Nebraska: $61,739 per year

  • Nevada: $63,832 per year

  • New Hampshire: $21,895 per year

  • New Jersey: $20,955 per year

  • New Mexico: $62,351 per year

  • New York: $116,784 per year

  • North Carolina: $78,413 per year

  • North Dakota: $42,372 per year

  • Ohio: $91,795 per year

  • Oklahoma: $85,006 per year

  • Oregon: $31,519 per year

  • Pennsylvania: $99,453 per year

  • Rhode Island: $246,270 per year

  • South Carolina: $93,688 per year

  • South Dakota: $60,093 per year

  • Tennessee: $41,801 per year

  • Texas: $111,431 per year

  • Utah: $122,632 per year

  • Vermont: $61,531 per year

  • Virginia: $33,750 per year

  • Washington:  $51,886 per year

  • West Virginia: $60,007 per year

  • Wisconsin: $111,669 per year

  • Wyoming: $61,318 per year

Job outlook for adjunct professors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth for postsecondary teachers is 12% between 2021 and 2031. This growth is more than double the job growth of 5% for all occupations. The BLS attributes this growth to an expected increase in the number of people attending postsecondary institutions. Colleges and universities may be more willing to hire adjunct faculty members because these employees typically don't receive benefits like health insurance or retirement plans.

Related: Careers in Education You Can Pursue (Salary and Job Outlook)

Requirements for becoming an adjunct professor

Some institutions, like technical schools and community colleges, may only require adjunct professors to have a bachelor's degree. If you want to teach at a university, employers typically prefer or require candidates to have at least a master's degree in their area of specialty. For example, an adjunct English professor may obtain a master's degree in a subject like American literature, British literature or creative writing. If you obtain a doctorate, your chances of securing a position with a higher salary may increase.

Read more: How To Become an Adjunct Professor

Skills for adjunct professors

Here are some skills that an adjunct professor can use in their work to increase their employability and qualifications:

Soft skills

Soft skills include people skills, social skills and your overall personality and etiquette. Here are some examples of soft skills that an adjunct professor has:

  • Communication skills: Since you're working alongside various faculty, it's important to have good communication skills to collaborate with others effectively. In addition, adjunct professors communicate both orally and through writing to convey information to their students and explain concepts.

  • Organizational skills: It's important for adjunct professors to be well-organized so they can handle a large group of students and lesson plan creation.

  • Interpersonal skills: Adjunct professors are active listeners. They're also patient, responsible, dependable and motivational when they're educating their students.

Read more: What Are Soft Skills? (Definition, Examples and Resume Tips)

Hard skills

Hard skills refer to more technical skills, such as math or reading abilities. Here are examples of hard skills that can be useful in your role as an adjunct professor:

  • Computer skills: Adjunct professors typically use a computer to check emails, track attendance, create lesson plans and perform other duties that involve computer software. An adjunct professor has strong computer competency to complete these duties successfully.

  • Classroom evaluation: In addition to teaching students, an adjunct professor also evaluates their performance in the classroom. This may help them determine how effective their teaching strategies are and how well their students can retain lesson materials.

  • Student engagement: An adjunct professor can promote student engagement to motivate them and ensure they optimize the time they spend in the classroom. They may experiment with and implement different ways to encourage participation from students.

  • Lesson plan development: Adjunct professors create lesson plans that can teach their students valuable information within an established syllabus.

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