…Down the Road: Part II
So, the idea of a well-paid second career teaching criminal justice classes at a college after you retire appeals to you?
Well, you won’t get this second career teaching criminal justice classes based on your outstanding “police résumé.” As I mentioned in Part I, you need an “academic résumé.” And, you may need to start NOW to put that academic résumé together, even though your 20 year mark (or whatever your earliest retirement date is) may be a few years down the road.
The four main parts of the “academic résumé” which you’ll need include a graduate level college degree in criminal justice (preferably a Ph.D.); teaching/training experience; publishing and/or writing credentials; and experience. We’ve briefly covered the first two in my last column, so let’s move on.
Publishing and/or Writing Credentials
I’m sure you are very good at writing investigative reports, applying for search warrants, writing affidavits for court, etc. But, that is much different than getting published which means that your words have appeared in a criminal justice magazine, journal, newsletter, etc. That looks really good on your résumé when you are applying for a teaching position. At larger colleges and universities, it is expected that professors research and publish regularly, while, at smaller colleges, getting published may be taken into account for yearly evaluations and promotions.
Here is an important point for you to consider right now. You may have something very valuable or interesting to say to one of your peers to help them get better at their job. If you have developed a certain expertise (drug interdiction, defensive tactics, investigations, patrol, etc.), there is not much difference between sharing it with your fellow officers or with thousands of officers across the country when they read your information in a professional magazine. The only difference is getting your words published.
There are dozens of criminal justice-related journals, magazines, newsletters, etc. which are published every month. All of them require new material for every issue, so that is a place to start. Put together a list of magazines and journals and then contact each of them and ask for writer’s guidelines. Each one is different. Some require a certain number of words; some are looking for articles on a specific topic; some are geared towards administrators, while others are geared more for line officers. For example, take a look at the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (https://leb.fbi.gov/). You’ll see that there is a difference in the writing style and content when compared to another police-related journal. You may consider “starting small” and working your way up. For example, a police officer I knew contacted the local newspaper and they hired him to write an article for each Sunday edition of the local newspaper on an interesting crime story or incident which occurred in the history of that city. Once he got a couple of dozen articles published by the local newspaper, then he had some publishing experience on his résumé and he moved up and wrote some articles for the State Police Chief’s Association newsletter. Then, he finally “graduated” to getting a couple of articles published in a nationally distributed police magazine. Editors look for writers with a “track record” of getting published.
I mentioned in my last column that someone with a Ph.D., but with no experience, is often given hiring preference over someone who has a master’s degree with years of experience. That being said, experience is taken into account when applying for a teaching position, although it is often low on the list of priorities. Criminal justice programs at some colleges are more practitioner-oriented than at other colleges. That means they may tend to hire based (in part) on an applicant’s background and experience. Colleges sometimes focus their criminal justice program from either a sociological-based approach or from a more practitioner-based approach. Neither is bad or good – it’s just a different way of teaching criminal justice. If you are applying at a more practitioner-based college and there is a position for an adjunct instructor (part-time) and you happen to have a graduate degree AND ten years of experience as an investigator or as a supervisor of a detective squad, that will certainly get someone’s attention if they are looking for someone to teach a class on criminal evidence or investigation.
If you do get hired for a full-time position, the experiences which you are now accumulating may bump you up on the hiring scale (depending on the college), so instead of being hired at entry-level pay, you may be given credit for your experience and be bumped up on the pay scale. (In my case, I was hired at Step 10 on the pay scale instead of Step 1 based on my experience.)
So, you put your academic résumé together…now what? First, you have to find the criminal justice teaching jobs which are open.
Don’t expect to find teaching positions advertised in your local newspaper. Your best source to find available positions will be in the Chronicle of Higher Education. You should also consider joining the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) and the American Society of Criminology (ACS). Both are highly recommended associations for criminal justice instructors to join. They advertise some criminal justice teaching positions through their Web sites and journals. Also, you may get lucky and randomly check the “positions available” page on a specific college’s Web page and they may (very randomly) be hiring for a full-time criminal justice teaching position. Be prepared for a nationwide search for any of these teaching positions.
All applications are typically reviewed by a hiring committee at the college. It often consists of a representative from human resources, from the administration, the chair of the division (the head of the criminal justice program); and a couple of faculty members. The hiring panel narrows the search list down to a workable number (maybe ten or so). The semifinalists may then be contacted for an interview done over the Internet (Skype). A final list of three to five candidates is then compiled and forwarded to the administration. Those finalists may be asked to come to the campus and meet in-person with the administration, the division chair, students, other faculty members, and make a class presentation, etc. Ultimately, the decision to hire is usually left to a high ranking administrator.
So, You Got Hired…Now What?
Once it is official, you’ll work out all the personnel matters and no doubt officially meet with the division chair and your fellow teaching colleagues. When you first get hired, you will be considered nontenured which means you are hired on a year to year contract. Different colleges have different standards for achieving tenure (a permanent position), but it is usually after a certain number of years teaching at the college (although, there is a new trend for some colleges to not give tenure at all).
I mentioned earlier the word “promotion” and, hopefully, that got your attention. In academia, there are four positions, or titles, for full-time faculty – instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Each is considered a promotion and each college has different criteria to get promoted. These promotions are usually tied to a combination of years of teaching at the college; how much graduate work you have done; and other criteria. Along with each promotion will come a small pay increase.
You may have some input on what classes you teach and the times the classes are offered, but probably not. If you’ve been through college as a student, you know that most three credit classes are typically offered for 15 week semesters and either Monday-Wednesday-Friday for 50 minutes each or Tuesday and Thursday for one hour and 20 minutes each day or a three hour block once during the week (often in the evening). There isn’t a “typical schedule” you will teach, but, at smaller colleges, full-time faculty may be expected to teach 15 credits (five, three credit classes or some combination which totals 15 credits). At larger colleges and universities, professors are expected to do more research and publishing, so their teaching load may typically be less – maybe nine to 12 credits of teaching a semester.
Now, for some more good news. Where you work now probably offers the chance to work overtime. At a college, you may get the chance to work overtime, although the academic word for it is “overload.” For example, you might be required to teach five, three credit classes a semester, but because there may be a lot of students in your criminal justice degree program, the division chair may add another section of a specific class and you could get the chance to teach it (for additional money). You may also get compensated for other work you do at the college above and beyond your teaching. There may not be as much overtime as you may be used to in your current job, but there are opportunities at a college to bump up your base salary.
Often, new college faculty are hired over the summer (sometimes in late summer) and that might not give you a lot of time to prepare your lesson plans, objectives, supplemental course material, assignments, tests, etc. for each class you teach when the fall semester starts in late August or early September. For your first couple of semesters, you may be literally only one week ahead of the students! It sometimes helps that you may teach several “sections” of the same course. For example, you may have a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class of “Introduction to Criminal Justice” and also be scheduled for a Tuesday-Thursday section of the same course, so you’ll be able to use the same lesson plans, tests, handouts, etc. for both classes.
Getting prepared for classes will take up a lot of time during your first couple of semesters and, at the same time, you will have other obligations which will take up more of your time. For example, you may be assigned to be a part of one of the many committees which have specific tasks or responsibilities on campus. You may also be assigned as an advisor to some criminal justice students which means you will be giving them advice on what classes to take the next semester; ideas on transfer schools if you teach at a community college; information about careers; etc. You may be expected to network with other criminal justice professionals in the community; make some contribution to the community or to your field of study; or get involved in some aspect of scholarly research.
It may seem like there is a lot of work ahead of you to get an “academic résumé” together. And, it might seem that colleges expect a lot from their faculty, but, believe it or not, it is virtually a stress-free job (especially compared to your current job!); the people you deal with (students, other faculty and administrators) actually LIKE you; and you are pretty much self-sufficient with very little oversight. It is a very rewarding second career which is worth considering if you have an interest in training and/or teaching. Please contact me directly at MCarpenter@PoliceManagement.com if you have any questions or need any more specific information.
Note: Do you need supervisory training? Police Management Services is offering a new online supervisory training program. Successful completion will give students three Continuing Education Units (CEUs). For more information, please check their Web page at http://policemanagement.com/expert.html or you can reach them by E-mail at MCarpenter@policemanagement.com or by phone at (518)761-9708. Also, see their ad in this edition of P&SN.