Is an Adjunct Professor Considered Self Employed? | Teaching Employee (2024)

Are adjunct professors considered self-employed? In short, in most situations, the answer to that is no. Adjunct professors are mostly not self-employed.

If you are an adjunct professor, your classification would be as an employee. It means despite being an adjunct; you’ll receive a W2 at the end of the year. It’ll withhold any taxes of an adjunct faculty throughout the year from whatever your ultimate compensation ends up being. It means that adjuncts enjoy the benefits of the employees.

Working as an Adjunct Professor

Working as an adjunct professor involves being hired on a contractual, typically part-time basis, to teach courses at a college or university. While adjunct faculty take on many of the same teaching responsibilities as their full-time counterparts, they may not have the same level of job security, benefits, or opportunities for career advancement. In addition to teaching, adjunct professors often engage in student mentorship, curriculum development, and assessment. Despite the potential drawbacks, working as an adjunct professor can be a rewarding experience, offering flexibility, the opportunity to gain teaching experience, and the chance to contribute to the education of future professionals in one’s field.

Are Adjunct Professors Employees or Contractors

Adjunct professors typically hold positions that lie between employee and independent contractor status within colleges and universities. As instructors, they are often considered employees due to their involvement in teaching courses and contributing to the institution’s educational mission. However, their contractual, part-time nature may also lead some institutions to treat them similarly to independent contractors. This classification can impact benefits, job security, and career advancement opportunities. It is essential to understand the specific employment status and terms outlined by the institution when accepting an adjunct professor role, as these conditions can vary widely between colleges and universities.

In Education, if an Adjunct Professor Is Working as an Independent Contractor

1099 means a worker classification as an independent contractor. You’ll get 1099 at the end of the year, and it will withhold no taxes. You’ll be responsible for paying those taxes quarterly or at the end of the year.

There is an IRS 20-factor test that determines whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee. An adjunct may use this. In the academic arena, it’s nonsense to have an adjunct professor classified as an independent contractor.

A few factors would be whether the adjunct professor has control over how often they teach. Or when they teach, and when the classes would be? Is the school providing the classroom and supplies and scheduling and administrative support? And in almost every scenario, the answer to that is yes. The academic organization is going to provide all of that. And so, it’s very unlikely that an adjunct professor would be an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Is an Adjunct Professor Considered Self Employed? | Teaching Employee (2)

If an Adjunct Professor Job Is More than Teaching

Now, let’s say an adjunct professor may be working part-time, considering he is an adjunct. Then, doing some counseling, tutoring, or something like that.

In that scenario, it probably would make sense to be an independent contractor rather than an employee. And then, you could always create an LLC. Get an EIN from the IRS, and create a bank account. Then you could use that to deduct many expenses associated with being a professor.

Or, as I said before, a tutor or counselor, whatever you want to call yourself. But if adjuncts work for an academic facility, it’s unlikely they’re self-employed or 1099 independent contractors.

Is an Adjunct Professor Considered Self Employed? | Teaching Employee (3)

Questions about Adjunct Professors’ Job or Adjunct Faculty in-depth Contract Review

Suppose you have concerns about an adjunct employee like:

  • Appointment letter
  • Employment agreement
  • Independent contractors agreement

You can always contact my law firm.

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  • How Long Are Teacher Contracts in Arizona?
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  • What Happens If I Break My Teaching Contract in Arizona?
  • Arizona Teacher License Defense Attorney | Education Licensing Lawyers

Arizona Teacher Contract Issues | Why You May Need an Attorney

As of January 2022, the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association found that 31% of teacher vacancies remained unfulfilled. Worse yet, that same report found that 47.7% of vacancies were composed of teachers. Teachers who did not meet the state’s standards for certification. A major departure of teachers from the Arizona school system is underway, and few are concerned about making the necessary changes to fix this. With this in mind, all educators need to ask themselves what they can do if they encounter contract issues with their local employer.

Time-Frame for Employment Contract Offer

Many faculty teachers work on a year-to-year basis per the contract. Some received multi-year deals, but faculty teachers often must agree to the terms of their contract each year. Suppose they’re not meeting the school’s standards, or if they are no longer needed. Then, they may not receive a contract at all.

It used to be the case that there were specific laws about when a teacher must be offered a contract or not, but that hasn’t been the case statewide since 2009. Certain districts may use their discretion to create rules about when faculty teachers need to be offered contracts. Still, it is not a guarantee to them right off the bat.

Employers must inform educators about their status as educators within the system before the new school year begins. It’s only fair for them to receive guidance about what to expect for the year ahead.

How Long Do Educators Have to Sign Their Contract?

The period to sign one’s contract or not as an educator in Arizona is surprisingly short. The individual has just 15 business days from the day that they receive their contract to make a decision. They have two options for how they may sign the contract. They can either:

  1. Sign and return the contract within the 15 business day time period
  2. Send a letter accepting the terms of the contract to the governing board

Most faculty teachers find it much easier to sign their contract and send it back. However, one shouldn’t necessarily be too quick to sign any document that comes their way. They need to be sure that they receive the proper terms of their contract before agreeing to sign off on it. After all, everyone wants to make sure they are receiving a good and fair deal. The only way to be positive about that fact is to have an attorney review every detail of the contract to ensure you fully understand it.

Is it Easy for Teachers to Walk Away from Their Jobs?

People who are part of other professions may have a reasonably easy time walking away from their contracts when they want to. They merely need to decide that they have had enough and throw in the towel. However, things are not so easy for faculty teachers on this front, which is for various reasons. It’s the case that faculty teachers have a harder time walking away. That is because their contract setup makes it challenging for them to disentangle themselves from those contracts. On top of that, they must also consider everything they are potentially leaving behind when they choose to leave the profession.

The Hardest Things to Leave

Many educators say that some of the hardest things to walk away from include:

  • Their Classroom – They have set up their classroom the way they would like it to be. They may not be able to find that kind of working environment in any other job that they ever have for themselves. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that the educator thinking about making a leap like this knows what they are doing before they opt to move on.
  • Their Students – Walking away from the students they have taught for so many years is something that many educators have a very challenging time dealing with. An emotional bond forms between faculty teachers and their students, and it is not easy to leave that behind. Even if a teacher only spends an hour or so per day with the student, they are shaping that student’s life in ways that go well beyond the classroom.
  • Their School – Many people develop emotions of connection with the school they teach at. Those who have been at a particular school for a long time may begin to feel like the school is a second family for them. It may encourage them to remain at the school and continue teaching for a long time. It is really important to consider this when thinking about leaving as well.

The emotional connections that one has when they are thinking about leaving the school environment is one thing. Still, it is also important to consider that the contracts drawn up are a challenge to get out of as well. All educators should ensure they understand this before they take the leap to try to get out of a contract they have already signed. It is not going to be as easy as they might have hoped.

Why Considered Getting a Lawyer to Look at Your Contract

Signing a contract to become an educator is pretty serious. There is no reason not to have a lawyer look over things before you put that pen to paper. Just make sure you’ve had the opportunity to look at everything presented to you in your contract. It’s the only way to ensure that the contract will work to your best advantage.

At Chelle Law, we have numerous contract lawyers who are more than happy to review your contracts and ensure you get the best deal possible. Educators are one of our most valuable resources. It’s a shame if there’s unfair treatment in the contract process. Please get in touch and let us help sort out the contract process for you today.

What Does an Arizona Teacher’s Employment Contract Include? | Teachers Contracts

What does a teacher employment contract in Arizona include? In general, they’re typically slim. Usually, they’re only a couple of pages long and bare bones. Still, I will go over the basics and what I have seen from educators who have been my clients.


First, typically your salary as an employee is outlined there. Now, salaries are not normally negotiable with districts. They’re standardized. You receive a specific amount of offer, and that’ll be in your contract. And then, it will go into how you receive that salary. Are you paid over 12 months? Or are you paid throughout the school year as a teacher in Arizona? And, like, in the summer, you wouldn’t receive any funds, so you’ll want to double check that so you know, and you can adequately budget for those funds over the year.

Signing Bonus or Relocation Expenses

Especially if you’re coming from out of state to Arizona, sometimes there are a signing bonus or relocation expenses that the school district will pay you. It’s typically not too much. It’s around a thousand. That’s what I’ve been seeing. But if you are coming in, they may offer you a bonus. Now, if you receive that bonus, there are always some types of repercussions. If you terminate your contract, you will likely have to pay it back, sometimes with interest. So, you’ll want to read your contract very carefully. And then, the contract itself will state how long it’s for, and it’s generally for the entire school year. It’ll have a start date, which would be some time, usually in August if you’re in the Phoenix or valley area.

And then typically, it ends at the end of May, and it’ll have a specific date on there, and you are required to provide services within those dates. You cannot break your contract.

How Can the District Terminate the Employment Contract?

The next thing you want to look out for is usually. The school district has some cause for termination. It’s typically listed. There are examples, suppose you’re under investigation or lose your license with the state of Arizona. Then, they may be able to terminate the contract. Suppose you harm a student, do something very egregious, or receive a criminal conviction. In that case, they may be able to terminate the contract immediately. You’ll want to read those through very carefully. However, one thing missing from teachers’ contracts as employees is a without-cause termination. As an employee, you may not terminate your contracts for any reason. Employees must fulfill contracts for the remaining school year.

Liquidated Damages

And if you don’t, there usually are consequences outlined in your contract as an employee. Normally, those are called liquidated damages, a specific amount of money employees owe to the district if they leave mid-year. The calculation for those amounts of money varies. Sometimes it’s a percentage of how much the employee’s salary is. They’ll have to pay that back. Other times it’s just a specific amount, and I’ve seen even up to $10,000. So, employees want to read that very carefully to know the consequences of leaving.

How Can You Terminate the Employment Contract?

Also included in a teacher’s contract, sometimes exceptions would allow you to terminate your contract. They’re very slim, and there’s a narrow category of things. It’s normal if you need to take a leave of absence for your health or a family member. I’ve seen one if you move out of state, they’ll allow you to break your contract, which is odd. But that’s about it. Also, if the school district, however, breaches its contract. So, suppose they’re not providing services that they agree to. In that case, they’re not paying you properly or offering things you agreed to. You may be able to break it. But again, you want to be careful.

What Services Are You Going to Provide?

So, we have your salary, how the district can terminate the contract, and how you can terminate the contract. Normally, it’s what services you’re going to be providing. And when I mean services, what grade are you teaching? What are you teaching? There’s usually a language that says you would adhere to all the school district’s policies. That’s important. You want to ensure you’re reading all the employee handbooks and policies. I have seen this come up when it’s talking about the discipline of students.


You want to ensure you know the school’s policy on how they prefer to discipline students. Among other things, that’s just one that I’ve seen often. Then, there’s language in there normally that you must adhere to by all the regulations of the state board of education. Again, it’s slim. But it usually includes:

  • It’s just how you get paid
  • What you’re paid
  • How you cannot get out of it
  • How the school district can get out of it
  • The duration of the contract

I always recommend reading your contract very carefully and considering the consequences if you cannot fulfill this contract before you sign it. I’ve even had clients bring me contracts. I’ve gone over it with them so that they fully understand what they’re signing. That is because this time, with educators, the friction between them, school districts, and the state board of education here in Arizona. You must fully understand what you’re signing because you will have a contract for the entire school year. And it’s tough and stressful to get out of if you change your mind later.

Can I Quit an Arizona Teaching Job Mid-Year? | Arizona Teachers

Can a teacher break their contract or terminate their contract mid-year? We’re talking specifically in the state of Arizona. And the answer is usually, no, you cannot. There are a few exceptions, but normally, a teacher in Arizona is hired for the entire school year in Arizona. You’ll typically receive your contract before the school year starts, sometimes even in February. You’ll sign that agreement for the next school year; therefore, it is binding.

Financial Consequences If The Teacher Terminates the Teaching Contract Mid-Year

Sometimes there are even financial consequences. There could be something called a liquidated damages clause within your employment agreement with your school district that states if you break this contract. You will be required to pay them an amount. Sometimes it depends on how much your salary is. And other times, there’s just a specific amount. Even further than that, you are at your school district’s mercy for contracts released.

An Act of Unprofessional Conduct

If they do not release you and you still break the contract, you leave mid-year. It can be considered unprofessional conduct by the state board and your licensing board in Arizona. So, your school district may report or file a complaint against you for doing this. If that happens, the state board of education may open an investigation, and there may even be some penalty for your license. Unprofessional conduct is a big catchall that Arizona’s board of education considers mitigating circ*mstances. And so, what does that mean? It means the circ*mstances around this. Did you leave because you wanted a better job or family issues? You’re leaving the teaching profession; the school district is breaching the contract.

There are lots of factors, and it can get a little complicated. Generally, it’s best not to break your contract mid-year unless there are some extreme circ*mstances. I would always recommend advising an attorney before doing this just because of financial consequences. There could be consequences against your license. So, it would help if you wanted to handle this correctly. And I’m speaking about public school districts. K-12 charter schools can sometimes be a little different from private schools. But usually, all their contracts are for the entire school year.

Do You Have to Complete Your Entire School Year Contract?

It usually starts in August and ends at the end of May, with dates there. And there’s no without-cause termination. That’s what it’s called whenever you give your notice that you are terminating your contract. Of teaching contracts, 99% do not have this in public schools in Arizona. So, you must fulfill your contract for the rest of the school year. Now, if you want not to come back, you can always give notice of intent not to renew or don’t sign the following contract whenever presented. That’s the best practice.

But as I know, and I’ve talked to many clients, you don’t have crystal balls. You don’t know what’s in the future. Things may come up whenever you sign these employment contracts, and it’s just not feasible for you to stay there. And because there’s such a mass exodus of educators leaving school districts, they’re becoming more and more strict about enforcing their contracts. You want to be very careful. So, can a teacher break their contract midyear? They can, but there will be consequences, possibly financial and action against their teaching license.

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Is an Adjunct Professor Considered Self Employed? | Teaching Employee (2024)
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