There are many community colleges in the San Diego area, divided among four different districts.

San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) is the largest district and it consists of three main campuses:

  • San Diego City College is located downtown, a couple of blocks from the termination of 163 South
  • San Diego Mesa College located in southern Clairemont/Linda Vista. Access from 805 via Mesa College Dr. or from Genesee via Marlesta Dr.
  • San Diego Miramar College located in Mira Mesa just west of I-15 on Black Mountain Rd.

The district also has smaller programs through continuing education. City College runs a program on the SDSU campus through the Rhetoric and Writing Studies (RWS) department.

Employment in any district requires a Master’s Degree. Most graduate students have adjunct appointments, although a lucky few obtain full-time “contract” positions. Pay depends on experience and number of credits past the Master’s degree, so it is in your interest to keep the district apprised of any progress towards a Ph.D. The top of the pay scale in the SDCCD is Class 6. Possible courses range from pre-algebra and earlier through the full range of lower division offerings. Employment in the RWS program includes joint appointment as an adjunct instructor at SDSU.

Gaining employment is a lengthy process. If you want to teach a course in a given term, plan on starting the process of getting in their system at least 9 months in advance. Fill out the online application and contact the department chair to begin the process of getting in the system. You will also need to have at least an updated TB test, fingerprints (somewhat pricey!), and a department interview (one for each deparment of employment). Each department has a scheduler who assigns the classes. In a given year, there are usually senior graduate students that know the names of the department chairs/schedulers.

Other districts include:

  • Mira Costa Community College is located off of highway 78 in northern San Diego county
  • Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Grossmont College located near I-8 and highway 125 in El Cajon and Cuyamaca College is located in Rancho San Diego (southern El Cajon).
  • Southwestern College located off of I-805 in Chula Vista near the US/Mexico border.

These districts have a reputation of paying better than SDCCD. Each has its own employment process. Adjunct faculty members do not get paid enough in any district to make a living wage (each caps the yearly course load one may carry). Hence, it is common for adjunct instructors to teach in several districts at once.

If you have lost your funding, or want to make more money than a TAship affords, teaching at a Community College can be a reasonable option. It also adds important experience to your CV, which is especially helpful if you are looking for a tenure-track job at a small teaching-intensive institution straight out of graduate school.

Teaching at one of the community colleges has some important differences from teaching at UCSD. The most obvious difference is that you’re giving lectures instead of leading discussion section. Another important difference is that you’re the only ‘staff’ for the course. You won’t have any TAs, and you’re responsible for developing the syllabus, writing and grading exams, assigning and grading homework, and dealing with any other administrative tasks that may come up during the semester. As you may have guessed, this (usually) entails more work per student than being a TA.

There is very little (if any) supervision associated with the job. You may or may not have someone observe one of your lectures, and you may or may not have any guidance with respect to designing your course. There is a fairly wide range of talent and motivation among the students at the community colleges; some are very motivated, attend all lectures, complete all assignments, and do their very best to understand what you’re teaching them. Unfortunately, this is not a universal phenomenon.