How to Become a College Professor

How to Become a College Professor
How to Become a College Professor

Find out How to Become a College Professor by researching the job description and the education and degree requirements. Do you enjoy studying and interacting with students? Do you think you’d like to work in academia? Then becoming a college Professor is probably something you’d like to learn about.

What are the prerequisites for a career as a college professor? What are the precise measures you need to take to become one?

Requirements to Teach in College

  • Degree Level: Master’s degree; doctoral degree often required.
  • Degree Field(s): Varies based on discipline.
  • License/Certification: None.
  • Experience: Teaching experience; work experience in your specific field; research and publication typically required.
  • Essential Skills: Research, critical thinking, communication, writing, computer skills, and knowledge of classroom management.


Do You Need a Ph.D. to Be a Professor?

If you’re interested in teaching in a college setting, the first step is obtaining the necessary degree. A master’s degree is the minimal level of education required for college teachers, and it might qualify an individual for a job as a community college lecturer. Working as a full-time, tenure-track university professor typically necessitates a Ph.D. degree. You should be able to complete an undergraduate degree in your chosen field, graduate school, a Ph.D. program, independent research, and writing and publishing articles in scholarly journals.

In addition, as a graduate assistant, you may be required to earn teaching and research experience and work experience in governmental, nonprofit, and private sector settings relating to your field of study. Therefore, developing critical thinking, communication, computer, and classroom management knowledge are essential skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual compensation for University professors was $80,720 in May 2019.


Educational Requirements for Teaching College

Unlike teacher preparation in elementary or secondary schools, college preparation frequently excludes teaching skills classes. A master’s degree in a subject area qualifies you to teach that topic in a community college or as a teaching assistant at a university. Students enrolled in a Ph.D. programme make up the majority of teaching assistants. A Ph.D. in a subject area is required to teach in a university setting.

You may come across a wide range of job titles. Your initial job after earning a Ph.D. will most likely be as an associate professor. Being on the tenure track suggests that teaching in that post will eventually lead to tenure, ensuring future employment at that school. An assistant professor runs between associate and full professor on the academic ladder. An adjunct professor is another prevalent job title that refers to part-time teaching. Adjunct teaching can be an excellent way to build experience and possibly land a full-time career.


Job Titles

  • graduate teaching assistant
  • adjunct professor
  • visiting professor
  • associate professor
  • assistant professor
  • full professor
  • tenured professor


Valuable Skills to Prepare for Becoming a University Professor

The development of research and writing skills, essential for becoming a professor, begins in high school. Even after earning your Ph.D., you will need to maintain careful study habits and research skills, regardless of what field of study you select. Academics are typically expected to pursue research and publishing opportunities in addition to teaching and counselling students.


How to Become a University Professor

You must first obtain the answers to a few basic questions before deciding on a career in academia. For example, to become a professor, what degree do you need? Is it possible to become a professor with only a master’s degree? You can learn how to become a professor by following the steps below.


1. Choose an Educational Field

Because numerous courses are taught at post-secondary schools, college professors can specialize and teach in various academic fields. You can specialize in multiple areas, including mathematics, chemistry, English, and history. You can choose a lot based on numerous variables, such as personal preference or the likelihood of landing a job in that field. For example, you might enjoy philosophy, but you should be aware of the fierce competition for the few full-time, tenure-track posts available in the area.


2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is the initial step toward a long academic career as a college lecturer. Because a bachelor’s degree is required for admission to graduate school, it’s essential to understand the differences between what it takes to graduate from a bachelor’s degree programme and what it takes to qualify for a graduate degree programme. For example, a GPA that is good enough to graduate may not be good enough to get into graduate school. You can also start to acquire a sense of how academics work and interact with students at the undergraduate level.


3. Enroll in Graduate School

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, college professors must have at least a master’s degree and, in many cases, a doctoral degree. Famous or prestigious graduate schools may have strict admissions requirements and receive many applications for a small number of openings.

You should contact your selected college to find out what qualifications you must meet. You should expect to build strong academic relationships with your teachers while in graduate school. For example, you might be able to collaborate on a paper with one of your teachers.

You can specialize in your chosen discipline at the Ph.D. level. A sociology student, for example, might concentrate on medical sociology or religious sociology. Individuals who aspire to be professors must publish their work. Establishing a publishing record throughout the graduate school will help you stand out when looking for tenure-track teaching opportunities.

Take some time to study how to teach online classes. More universities are offering online coursework or complete degrees. When applying for a full-time, tenure-track post, an aspiring professor who knows how to work with at least one common online course platform might highlight their versatility.


4. Participate in Employment Opportunities or Internships

Throughout your study, you should take advantage of any available internships or work opportunities that can help you gain teaching and research experience and advance your career. This usually entails working as a graduate assistant. In addition, maintaining positive academic and professional relationships with colleges and professors might lead to job changes.


Professional Associations

Joining a professional association for academics can give you possibilities for networking, leadership, and promotion. Listed below are a few examples:

  1. American College Personnel Association
    Provides resources for people working at public and private American colleges.
  2. American Association of Community Colleges
    Organization promoting the value of the community college experience.
  3. American Association of University Professors
    Promotes high standards and best practices for university professors.
  4. Academy for Academic Leadership
    Provides Leadership training and support in the academic community.

After obtaining a full-time post, you may be eligible for tenure status with the institution after working there for a long time. College professors at most research universities must continue to contribute to their field’s research and publish academic articles in addition to teaching.