So You Want to Be an Adjunct Art Therapy Professor
What’s the salary, are there jobs, and is it time to unionize?
Posted Jan 28, 2014
First, it is probably no secret that art therapy adjunct salaries are embarrassingly low, generally ranging anywhere from $1700 to $3500 for a three-unit, standard semester-long course, depending upon the person’s terminal degree and experience. There are some even lower salary outliers (states in the Midwest and South) and higher outliers (California), but not many. It is not surprising that other professional fields (including the humanities and social sciences) often pay their part-time faculty more than the average art therapy adjunct makes per course. In most situations, there are also no benefits (healthcare, retirement, disability) included and no guarantee of continued employment or raises despite years of service. Most adjunct professors work out of their car (a.k.a. “the office”), spend countless additional hours each week in prep work, buy supplies for courses at their own expense, engage with students outside the classroom, and complete endless paperwork (incomplete grades and recommendations), sometimes for years after the course is over. “Adjuncting” has been called “the fast food worker of the academic world;” there are plenty of slots because of low wages and lack of security. In brief, I consider any adjunct teaching I do my “volunteer work” for the profession because I could not afford to regularly work at the wages offered.
In comparison, on a search of full-time art therapy professors’ salaries via the Internet, there is a wide range—from $50,000 to $100,000 a year for 10 to 12 month contracts. Most art therapy, full-time faculty salaries are somewhat in the middle of that range, as far as is known. The real salary range is not available because only state universities and colleges are required to list salaries each year on public sites in contrast to private institutions who do not have to post such information (by the way, if you attend a state university, you can easily look up your professors’ salaries by doing an Internet search of that state government's salaries). Most art therapy professors work at private colleges, so the actual salary range is difficult to determine. However, in contrast to adjuncts, regular faculty do get health, retirement, and disability benefits, reimbursements for supplies and travel, and mostly enjoy tenure track positions.
For those of you considering adjunct appointments, I again underscore that some of my most wonderful professional moments have been teaching graduate students. But I also value my fellow adjunct art therapy professors around the US and what they have had to endure in a system that has often taken advantage of them. Art therapy adjunct professors are what keep the art therapy education economy healthy and frankly, they keep regular faculty and administrators in salary, benefits and overhead. It is well past the time when their contributions to art therapy education (and those of our cousins in music therapy, dance therapy, drama therapy, and expressive arts therapy) should not only be celebrated, but also given the rights and respect owed to any individual in the workforce.
Keep calm and join a union,
© 2014 Cathy A. Malchiodi, Ph.D., LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC
Update on the disparity in pay between full-time, regular faculty and adjunct professors, see recent Boston Globe opinion: "Adjusted for the percentage of compensation attributed to research and service to the university, assistant professors made $12,971.50 per course they taught. In comparison, adjuncts are paid as little $5,115 per course..."(reference to Tufts University, Medford, MA).
For more information about Adjunct Action and SEIU, see http://www.seiu.org/coal/.
Visit my website at www.cathymalchiodi.com for more information about art therapy, expressive arts therapy, and related topics.
Because many readers requested a way to obtain the information presented in the four-part series on visual journaling in one place, I created a summary that you can download on my author’s page. Just go to the lower right hand corner of the page, look for the “Visual Journaling as Art Therapy & Self-Help” PDF, and click to download.
Art Therapy on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/cathymalchiodi/boards/