Technical teaching jobs--advice sought.

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by ErikH2000, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. ErikH2000

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    Has anyone here tried making money teaching computer-related classes? Particularly, unaccredited "continuing education" classes through community colleges in major US cities. I'm trying to figure out if it's a decent way to make some money compared to contract software development, my current day job. I've taught small classes as a volunteer this year, and found it quite enjoyable. I stand up, start talking, and before I know it 3 hours have gone by and it barely seems like work. The interaction with students is also quite rewarding. So I'm trying to decide if I should invest more time on this.

    The obvious approach would be to look at specific schools, see what they need, what they pay, and what classes are in demand that I can teach. I've done some of that. The way it seems to work is that you propose a class to teach, writing up a course description and outline of what you'll cover. Then, they check out your qualifications and give you a thumbs up unless you are obviously unqualified. I also see that certain proven classes with high enrollment seem to be "taken", i.e. there is one guy teaching Word XP and he's in a good spot because that class will have 12 enrollees instead of 3, and make him $600 for one night instead of $150. I wonder how people get into the sweet spots and also how I can find one that hasn't been identified yet.

    By the way, I'm in the Seattle area. A lot of my questions must seem fairly obvious. I think being new to this, I probably am not enlightened enough to ask the right questions. I'm generally just looking for some insights from people who have tried this.

    -Erik
     
  2. soniCron

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    I spent some time teaching beginner Windows courses some time ago, and if I recall, I made a pretty penny: ~$20 per student per night. I quit doing it because I'm not terribly fond of teaching people the absolute basics. (I like to learn something too, you know?) It's possible you could try some sort of basic computer security class; protecting from spyware, adware, virii, etc.
     
  3. ErikH2000

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    Yeah, I figure I am learning enough from making and marketing games these days. Picking up some extra income from work that doesn't stress me out is what I'm after. There is just one deadline--show up to class prepared to teach the subject. That sounds pretty nice.

    I've also found that communicating what I know is an interesting challenge, apart from having the knowledge itself. There's all sorts of techniques to use for making yourself clear, letting slower students keep up while not boring the faster students, reading the class to see what topics need elaboration. I like the teaching stuff--it's plenty interesting for me even if the topic itself is a little dull. I think MS Word is a boring program to learn about, but I've taught two classes on it and teaching was interesting for me.

    If I had to pick something to teach based on just what interests me, I'd probably do C++ programming. But the topic is not so important that I wouldn't pick something less interesting to make more money. I guess one thing that would be useful to know: how to pick a class not currently being offered that will be popular? By the way, your security class idea might be a good tip. Why would you predict that one would be popular?

    -Erik
     
  4. Rebrehc's Industries

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    I taught Computer Programming classes at a techinical college part time in the evenings for over 10 years. I was teaching my day job at night and I could do it with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back. I was always the students' favorite because I was a programmer who could teach, which meant communicate the concepts and knowledge to them in a meaningful way, and also tell them what it was like out there in the real world, as opposed to a teacher trying to get across something they had learned from a book. It was good money, very rewarding, and not much work. I say go for it. :cool:
     
  5. Vectrex

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    I'm teaching part time at the moment. It's pretty cool and the pay is good enough to teach 1 day a week :D and would you believe I'm teaching 'Unreal level editing' and 'Game research'. Next semester it's Blitzmax and Audio design for games. You might try and fish around to see if there's any games/multimedia courses you could teach at. ps I totally stumbled into this job :)
     
  6. soniCron

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    For one, people obviously don't know well enough to take care of their own computers that internet providers are now servicing security needs they never had to before. It's somewhat like buying a Dell and them taking the responsibility of keeping you protected from power surges.

    Also, it's the new "hot topic". Now that most people have jumped onto the Internet, the market is more focused on protection, especially since Windows is so vulnerable. With AOL and EarthLink spouting out trendwords like nobody's business, there is a large audience that hears it, but doesn't know what's going on. Because of this, you could be quite fortunate teaching people what everything means to them and how they can utilize these features to their advantage.
     
  7. Abscissa

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    This is something I've been interested in too. I'm at an almost-minimum-wage student job (web stuff) at a community college right now, so it probably wouldn't be too hard to get into if I wanted to (And the higher pay and free tuition would be nice too, plus this school has been just getting into game stuff recently). But, my biggest concern has been: how good of an idea is it for complete anti-socials like me ;) ?
     
  8. ErikH2000

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    Hmm. I imagine if you have a larger class size (i.e. +10) then you can be more of a lecturer and not worry as much about two-way interaction. With smaller classes you end up answering more questions and making sure individual students are caught up with the rest. Based on my experience as a student, I think if a teacher doesn't like communicating with students it will always come across to some extent though.

    -Erik
     
  9. GhostRik

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    I'm not exactly a social butterfly but I absolutely *loved* teaching basic UNIX (of all things) to digital artists (of all people) about ten years ago as part of a system admin job. I had one session every week of from two to ten people (it was when computer graphics in film were booming) and I looked forward to it all week. I was the only sys-admin willing to do it. I don't know why I haven't done more teaching.
     
  10. Abscissa

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    Hmm, here's another question: Have any self-proclaimed "pathetic at public speaking" people here tried any teaching?
     
  11. LiquidAsh

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    If you've written yourself off as pathetic at public speaking, then I would advise against teaching. If you have hope, and the will to get better, then teaching is will probably help you do this.

    As far as the antisocial thing goes, I consider myself generally shy, but not antisocial. As a teacher, your role is to open up and communicate, and that has definitely helped me grow as well.

    Where and what kinds of schools are paying $50 per head per 3hr night to teach Word? Also how many nights do these classes run?

    Sounds a lot like game design huh? That's why I like it.
     
  12. ErikH2000

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    In Seattle, Shoreline Community College pays 40% of the course fee to the instructor. A one-day "Word XP" class is $105 and is 6 hours. The coordinator I talked with said it was one of the more popular classes and predicted maybe 12 students. So $42/head for 6 hours. If you got this job, you might make $84/hour. Well, throw in a few hours for prep and it's $63/hour--still pretty awesome. The thing is, I think that the more popular classes are given out to trusted instructors, so it is likely you need to start by coming up with a currently unoffered course of your own that will attract maybe 4 people and be much less lucrative. Then some time later, the Word guy goes into motivational speaking and you get a phone call, "want to teach Word?" At least I am guessing that is how it works.

    Different colleges have differing course fees, instructor cuts, class sizes, classes that are longer than one night, etc. The economics differs a lot from one institution to the next. I missed out on summer quarter which would have been an excellent time to teach game development classes to teenagers. Oh well. I will make a teaching resume, write a crapload of course descriptions, and get them in for fall quarter.

    -Erik
     
  13. tentons

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    So what are the necessary qualifications for a university teaching job like this? Don't you need a degree of some sort?
     
  14. Rebrehc's Industries

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    Courses taught by universities that lead to degrees generally require the next higher degree plus some courses in education that may be waived if you have sufficient years of work experience in the discipline, so courses that lead to a bachelor's degree would require a master's degree and so on. Requirements for teaching adult education classes, especially the one or two session type are usually much less, and may not have any formal education requirement whatsoever, for someone with sufficient professional background.
     
  15. Abscissa

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    Hmm, what about credit courses at a community college that lead towards an Associate's or a certificate?
     
  16. soniCron

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    Depends on the school, but you might get by with a Bachelor's and plenty of experience. Otherwise, a master's is pretty much the defacto standard (around here at least, and that's in Arkansas).
     
  17. Rebrehc's Industries

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    I didn't explicitly mention that in my post, but a state run community college will typically require a bachelor's degree and some education coursework. Some will allow you to substitute professional experience for the education courses, especially if you are concurrently enrolled in a program to acquire a teaching certificate.
     
  18. stan

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    I'm currently reading a book about public speaking, you could do the same if you're "lame at publc speaking" ;). There seems to be a few tips to learn and use, but of course practice is needed. According to the author, everyone can do this.
     

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