3 minute read


Education and Training: Four year degree and PhD
Average Salary: $79,439
Job Outlook: Very good

Professors are employed by colleges or universities to teach students who are working towards a four year degree or doctoral program. In addition to lectures, professors may also be involved in research related tasks, particularly those teaching mathematics and sciences.

As a professor, it is important to have a post secondary and in some cases, even a tertiary degree and other advanced certifications which represent educational prowess. In many high research activity universities, tenured professors spend most of their time in research and are assisted by PhD students and lecturers.

A professor starts out either as a graduate teaching assistant or an instructor. It typically takes about 7 to 10 years of teaching experience to become a professor. Those with a PhD degree get some of the best long term opportunities in this industry.

Education and Training Requirements

Education and training requirements vary depending on the subject a professor wishes to teach. Typically, this is the subject they are most passionate about and have degrees in. Someone with a bachelor and master degree in English could take on teaching a particular subject such as 18th century English literature. A professor should ideally have a PhD degree or even post doctoral fellowships however, tertiary degrees are not mandatory in two year degree colleges.

Those interested in teaching subjects related to natural sciences must take on post doctoral research before they start teaching.

A professor starts out their teaching career by first becoming a graduate teacher assistant or an instructor, after which they move on to an assistant professor, then associate professor, and finally, a professor.

Getting the Job

In order to become a professor, the first step is to become a graduate teaching assistant or an instructor. You can become a graduate teaching assistant through in-campus job openings at the college you’re enrolled in while working towards your PhD. The other option is to apply for instructor vacancies in community colleges in small cities or towns.

Professors start out with contractual job agreements with the college or university they are employed in. These contracts are renewable, however, it takes a professor about seven years to get tenured.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Postsecondary teaching jobs in colleges are expected to increase by 15% till 2018. This anticipated increase will be because of an expected increase in the number of college going students in the coming years. Community college professors will have more opportunities as well due to the large number of adult students.

A large number of professors with more than 10 to 15 years of work experience actively provide consultation services to businesses, industries, and research centers. They can also seek out non career related professions.
Since teaching is an intellectually stimulating career, professors keep up to date with recent developments and advancements in their subjects by communicating with other faculty members, attending seminars and workshops, and by being involved in campus research projects.

Because of the increase in computer aided methods of teaching, they also need to train themselves in using new age teaching methods.

Working Conditions and Environment

Professors work in institutions of higher learning such as colleges and universities. They lecture during the weekdays and spend 16 hours teaching on average every week. Professors must also set time aside for student consultations and research activities. Tenured professors take only about one or two classes a week and spend most of their time in research projects.

Teaching schedules are very flexible with professors having the freedom to decide class timings.

Salary and Benefits

The average median salary for full time professors was $79,439 in 2008-2009 in public institutions. Professors employed by private colleges are paid more. These earnings are supplemented with part time positions many professors hold in public research centers and other industries. Professors enjoy benefits such as free access to university facilities, paid vacation, paid sabbaticals, allowances for housing and travel, and tuition fee waivers for their dependents.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of University Professors
1133 Nineteenth St., NW, Ste. 200
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 737-5900

Council of Graduate Schools
One Dupont Circle NW, Ste. 230
Washington, DC 20036

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