Counties in California and community college jobs

I’ve been wondering about where I can possibly live in California on an adjunct’s salary.  I currently live in one of the more expensive parts, where you can only assume everyone besides you is a lawyer or a doctor judging by the home prices Zillow mockingly spits out at you.

That’s why I got to thinking of whether adjuncts in other parts of the state, where home prices are about what people pay for cars here, have things a little easier.  Then I went about gathering data from real estate sites, Wikipedia, community college district listings, and job listings from those districts.  For now, I didn’t bother with 4-year universities or private ESLs – you’ll have to do that research yourself.

In case you didn’t know, as far as TESOL is concerned community colleges usually offer a mix of non-credit classes for their communities to learn English for life and for-credit English classes, usually for transfer to a 4-year university.  Unlike 2-year universities in a lot of countries, they are not considered status-bearing institutions and are funded by tuition (cheap for residents) and state taxes.  I hope that’s right.

These are the counties in California.  Apparently San Bernardino County is as large as many of the smaller entire states put together, although no one lives anywhere in it but the bottom left corner.


And just for kicks here are the ones I remember having been to.  Inyo County even gave me a traffic ticket to remember them by.

First, you should know that not all counties in California even have community colleges in them.  The districts claim to “serve” other counties than the ones they’re in, leading Inyo County to appear to have 3 community colleges serving it – all of which are located in Kern or Fresno counties, on the other side of a mountain range to the west.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 23.29.46.png
Take the train and save a few bucks.

To save other job hunters a bit of time, I’ve made colored maps of which counties actually have community colleges (CCs) in them.  Blue indicates actual CCs in that county, while green indicates the presence of nearby CCs “serving” that county.


And overlaid on each other:

Most: Los Angeles County (flat-topped one 3rd from the bottom on the coast) with 23 “serving” and 20 actually inside the county lines.  Alpine, Amador, and Mariposa Counties all have 0.  Apparently LA, OC, and Santa Clara are all good places to be – but that’s not the whole story.

I know this is nominally a site about TESOL, but I just thought I’d show you the map for average home prices in California:

That’s right, there are 4 counties where the median home price is over a million dollars.  How many units of adjuncting is that? (Answer: about 30 per semester for 30 years, assuming you use money for nothing but your mortgage)

This actually isn’t just to make you think “hmm… maybe I’ll stay in Japan a few more years”.  I actually used it for some semi-useful comparisons below.

Numbers of community colleges aren’t all that useful if the colleges in question aren’t hiring.  It’s a convenience in LA, for example, to be able to get from one part-time gig to another in just 30 minutes (assuming your between-class gaps aren’t during rush hour), but if none of those colleges have classes available, you’re no better off than someone stuck in Alpine County where there are no community colleges at all.

With that in mind, I searched CCCRegistry for jobs by district, and entered the number of hits for each district into my ever-growing CC data Numbers file.  I then added up the total jobs listed for each county, which ranged from 0 (El Dorado, Tuolumne, and San Luis Obispo) to 102 (Monterey) all the way up to 383 (Los Angeles).  Last, I divided the population of the county by the number of jobs listed to give some idea of the level of competition (low numbers being more favorable), and also divided the median home price by the number of jobs listed.  This last one was to give a rough idea of how hard it is to cobble together a livable income in that county.

One thing I didn’t calculate was adjunct salaries per district.  Why?  Well, on looking, almost all of them started at about $55/class hour for part time and $50,000/year for full time.  Contra Costa County, where the median home costs $660,000, still pays $59.70 per class hour for MA holding adjunct faculty.  San Bernardino County pays $60/hour and has a median home price of $274,330.  Some pay a bit more than others, but of course no one pays enough to afford a house in San Francisco ($1,469,000).

There are limits to the usefulness of this data – an adjunct can’t take all the classes that are available, putting a ceiling on a plausible salary despite the easy availability of nearby jobs.  That means that a home in Southern California along the coast or in the Bay Area is probably an impossibility even with inhuman class schedules.

The map on the left has population divided by the number of jobs listed, with darker blues representing less competition.  The map on the right has home prices divided by numbers of jobs, with darker pinks representing more favorable balances of jobs to home prices.


Bearing in mind that monthly mortgage payments on a $600,000 house at 3.92% interest come out to almost $3,000, you’ll probably want to avoid any county whose homes cost more than that.  There are 126 jobs in Santa Clara County, for instance, but none of them will get you to the $1.1 million it takes to buy a home.

Here are those maps overlaid on each other:


FYI, the 5 counties with the most favorable balances of jobs to housing prices whose prices are less than $600,000 are LA, San Bernardino, Kern (north of LA), Placer (oblong one toward the northeast), and Riverside.

Last, here’s the raw data.




All of this information is publically available, but like the Hensachi-THE Rankings posts, I hadn’t seen it compiled in place before, and this is the kind of research you just expect someone somewhere to do.  So there you go, I did it.  Hope you find it useful, and see you at the Placer County Fair someday.

2 thoughts on “Counties in California and community college jobs

  1. It is smart to think this way. We have a second home in a low income area of our state– far to the north where winters are very harsh. Although the pay is low, housing is ridiculously cheep and usually comes with a forest view! If one lives “in town” one can get a house for (yes) less than a car. One can get a job at a local establishment for minimum wage and literally walk to work. I venture to say that one could make it, and purchase some sort of health insurance to boot. It’s the old saying, “It’s not what you make but how you live.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the comment. For forest views in CA, you pretty much have to live in one of the less-populated areas. There is one community college in Siskiyou County (furthest north in CA) that looks very nice – but I imagine they don’t hire very often.


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