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The Job Market in American Colleges & Universities

Since I began my doctoral studies in the fall semester of 2009, I have been keeping track of the job market for English language teachers.  More more details on how I kept track, I recommend you visit my the Job Market Archive page in the tab above.  For this particular blog post, I'd like to focus exclusively on the English language teaching job market in American colleges and universities.  This only includes full-time positions and not adjunct or part-time positions, which would most likely more than triple the number of openings.

Show Me The Jobs!

You can access the list of past job openings here -

The Time for Job Opening Announcements

Figure 1 - Number of job announcements per month, 2010-2015

Patterns by Month and Season

You can clearly see that July is the hottest month for employers to announce job openings during the year followed by a second peak in October.  These postings are usually, but not always, for positions that open for the following semester.  So July announcements are for jobs that start for the fall semester and the academic year.  October announcements are for jobs that start for the spring semester and the calendar year.  We see a drop in announcements when the academic year actually begins, most likely because everyone's busy starting the new year.

If we look at seasons rather than months, spring and summer are the better seasons to find job openings.  Except for October, fall and winter do not offer as many choices as the other seasons.  So if you're reading this posting now, which is late January, you should see a steady increase in job announcements through June if these patterns hold.

 Table 1 - Number of job announcements per month, 2010-2015

Patterns by Year

2013 through 2015 appear to have more job openings than 2010 through 2012, however I admit that in 2010 and part of 2011, I was more selective or selfish in recording job announcements.  So that's a big flaw in the data.  It wasn't until the summer of 2011 when I decided to include all full-time job openings without judgment.  In this case, 2012 was a slower year for hiring English language teachers, but I can't be confident that 2010 and 2011 were slower or the same as 2012.  I can state that I recall 2010 and 2011 being slower too because we were slowly recovering from the economic crisis from 2008.

2014 has been the peak year so far.  2015 still had many job openings but not as many as 2014.  The institution where I work and many other similar institutions have noticed a drop in student enrollment, which may show the downward trend continuing.

Where Are These Jobs?

Patterns by Region of the U.S.

Great Lakes Dominates

Believe it or not, the region with the most job announcements is the Great Lakes region, which includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, with a total estimate of 180 job announcements since October 2009.   The states with the most announcements are Ohio (47) and Indiana (42), and I can only make wild speculations to as why this is the case.  Minnesota only had 4 announcements in the same time period.  I'm sure Minnesota had more job openings than four, but perhaps they advertise them through different channels.  Perhaps a close inspection of the Minnesota TESOL affiliate's job board would clarify this.

Southeast is Second

It makes more sense to me that there would be more job announcements in the Southeast given its climate and the number of states I included in this region (10) from Kentucky through Florida and as far northeast as North Carolina.  The Southeast had 146 job announcements with the majority (32) coming from Florida, followed by Arkansas (25), Georgia (24), and Kentucky (23).  Louisiana has not yet posted a job opening in higher education, and Mississippi has only had one announcement followed by South Carolina with two.  Again, I'm sure they've had more announcements but not posting them nationally.

The Great Plains

The next area is the Great Plains with 123 announcements, but well over a third of these announcements were for jobs in Texas (45).  Missouri is a distant second with 27 job announcements, followed closely by Iowa (24).  Oklahoma and North Dakota only had 2 announcements.  This is the last region in the States to post over 100 jobs since October 2009.

The East Coast

There were more announcements for jobs on the East Coast compared to the West Coast, and I split the Northern East Coast into two smaller sections: the Northeast (95) and the Mid-Atlantic (96) region.  These two regions combined would have the largest number of announcements.  Massachusetts (42) and New York (40) had the most announcements with Virginia (32) in a distant third place.  Maine and New Hampshire have posted no jobs nationally yet.

The West Coast

I also split the West Coast in half with the Southwest (63) and the Northwest (43), which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan.  California of course dominates the region with 42 announcements, nearly the same amount as the entire Northwest region.  Hawaii has not yet announced a job opening, but I've had colleagues that worked there close to this time period, so I know they are hiring.  Again, they are not posting jobs nationally.

Rocky Mountains

The last region is the Rocky Mountain region (45), which does not post many announcements but roughly the same as the Northwest region.  A little under half of these announcements are for jobs in Utah (21) followed by Colorado (14).  Montana and Wyoming have only posted one job announcement each.

Patterns by State

Table 2 - Number of job announcements per state, 2010-2015

When viewing this table, it became clearer to me that the these numbers reflect the jobs announced nationally or internationally on the TESOL Career Center and as opposed to the real number of job openings.  I seriously doubt that the most jobs are in Ohio.  The correct way to interpret this data is that Ohio is announcing more jobs nationally than other states.  If you look at the opposite end, Hawaii most likely can fill positions without announcing its job openings nationally.  For many people, it would like working in paradise.

In conclusion, if you're looking for an English language teaching job in the United States, I would recommend looking at local, state, and regional job boards as well.  For example, I would look at ITBE's (the Illinois TESOL affiliate) job board.  Better yet is word-of-mouth and connections from your undergraduate or graduate institutions.  If 2016 shows to be hiring fewer teachers as I predict, then the more valuable your connections are.


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