If you enjoy being in an academic setting and would like to make a career out of it, then you might very well be wondering how to become a professor. Working as a college professor can be a very rewarding career and comes with many benefits, such as flexible scheduling and the ability to pursue your own academic research interests. Most college professors have spent years working for their positions, so it’s a good idea to know what to expect before you decide this is the best career path for you.
College Professor Requirements
For starters, understand that college professors must go through a great deal of schooling to land a job. In most cases, professors have a doctoral degree, but there are some positions (such as those at community colleges) that may hire professors with master’s degrees. Still, for most, this means a minimum of six years of formal education, beyond high school (and perhaps several more).
The nice thing about how to become a professor, however, is that there’s really no specific field of study that you need to go into. You can study anything that interests you and become a professor in a related field. For example, if English literature is your passion, you can pursue a doctorate degree in that or any other related field, going on to teach it down the road.
Getting Education Experience
Once you have your master’s degree or doctorate degree, you will probably already have at least some experience when it comes to teaching. That’s because many colleges these days offer assistantships to both master’s and doctoral students that allow them to teach freshman-level courses, while they finish their degrees. During this time, many prospective professors learn to develop their own ideas about teaching pedagogy, and develop the start of a teaching philosophy in the process. Upon graduation, they can apply for professor jobs just about anywhere, though there tends to be a great deal of competition for these positions. This is what makes figuring out how to become a full professor so difficult.
From Assistant to Tenured Professor
The ultimate goal of most professors is to earn what is known as tenure; when a professor is tenured, they have a great amount of job security and it is very difficult for them to lose their jobs. Often times, however, it takes many years of hard work and success to even be considered for a tenured position. It is also necessary for professors to have a detailed review conducted on their performance before they can be given tenure. In other words, there is a big difference between how to become a professor and how to become a tenured professor.
What to Expect: College Professor Salary
According to The Washington Post, the average full-time college professor salary is about $126,000 per year, which is a pretty comfortable salary by most standards.
Now that you have a better idea of how to become a professor, is this the right career choice for you to pursue?
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