Four Things to Know Before Applying to a Job as Professor


Have you ever wondered to become a professor? Is this the profile you want to have a better life?  To make a firm decision on this one should have clarity of goals. Most resistance to becoming a professor is driven by unclear goals, a lack of clarity about your long-term professional goals. Typically end up by asking yourself: Do you REALLY want to be a professor?

Well, if your answer is ‘Yes’ then you must know few of the important things before opting for this career. It is neither easy nor always a fun as you see or imagine.

Let’s discuss few of the most important things that you must keep in mind while going forward:

Qualification required

First of all, never mix-up the fact that being a professor is same as becoming a teacher. You are absolutely wrong here. Teaching job you can get with a Bachelor’s degree but here you need to have a doctorate degree. A PhD in a respective field is must for the job of a professor.

Next, let’s talk about the PhD program. It is really tough and finishing it up is again a daunting task. In different countries, they provide different patterns that you have to follow. In few places the program includes some combination of courses, very precise examinations along with dissertation. Dissertation is basically to show that you have mastered the particular subject and can do well as a professional. It is advisable that do not take longer time. Dive right into the thesis before losing interest on it.

Write few papers; publish articles or chapters from your dissertation after it gets finished for a better scope. A prior teaching experience will surely be an add-on.

Getting a job

To get an academic job is not that easy as you think. It is really a nightmare for many to find the most appropriate job in this field. The job in the universities is too competitive globally. Numbers of PhDs apply for jobs after completion of the course each year. Another important aspect is that you need to apply for a position which is exactly seeking for the specialization you have. For example, you cannot apply for any opening in the History department if you have done PhD in History. You need to search for a job in your particular specific area of history.

Relocation is another key to success. Your chances of getting a job increase as soon as you widen your area. So, if you are interested to settle down abroad then apply for various universities globally and grab it as soon as you get an opportunity.

Keeping Your Job

Getting a job is not enough. If you manage to get a tenure-track job then you have probably a security of five years. After this you need to apply for tenure. It is a kind of permanent appointment that let you teach and research the way you want to without any stress of being fired. Most of the universities throughout the world claim that tenure depends on strong assessments in the areas of teaching, research as well as service.

It is always advisable to look for people in your department and Faculty Association who have good idea of the exact process and how it actually works. With their years of experience, they can guide you perfectly.

There are little regular hours

A poll amongst the existing professors would go on to reveal that they all usually work more than full-time. An audit of the number of hours worked by professors suggests that although the quantity is not unreasonable, it’s greater than your typical 9-5, Monday to Friday job.  If you really want to apply to assistant professor or a professor job then irregular work hours should not be concern, since you will be ultimately doing what you actually love. However, there is still no denying the fact that the hours are highly erratic, and may even vary from season to season. There might be intensive work hours during the start and end of an academic session while summers could involve a lot of field works.  Then there are conference travels that muck up weeks. The fact is flexibility and variability is essential to a job as professor, especially if you have the responsibility of maintaining an active family life. If you have trouble in keeping a healthy work life balance, a role in academics may not be for you.

It is actually a long road with no assurance. But, if you manage it till the end, it is an excellent gig.