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University Professor

Earnings Potential

Median annual earnings of all postsecondary teachers in May 2004 were $51,800. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,590 and $72,490. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,460, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,980.

Earnings for college faculty vary according to rank and type of institution, geographic area, and field. According to a 2004-05 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $68,505. By rank, the average was $91,548 for professors, $65,113 for associate professors, $54,571 for assistant professors, $39,899 for instructors, and $45,647 for lecturers. Faculties in 4-year institutions earn higher salaries, on average, than do those in 2-year schools. In 2004-05, faculty salaries averaged $79,342 in private independent institutions, $66,851 in public institutions, and $61,103 in religiously affiliated private colleges and universities. In fields with high-paying nonacademic alternatives—medicine, law, engineering, and business, among others—earnings exceed these averages. In others fields—such as the humanities and education—they are lower.

Facts at a glance

  • Opportunities for postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to be good, but many new openings will be for part-time or non-tenure-track positions.
  • Prospects for teaching jobs will be better and earnings higher in academic fields in which many qualified teachers opt for nonacademic careers, such as health specialties, business, and computer science, for example.
  • Educational qualifications for postsecondary teacher jobs range from expertise in a particular field to a Ph.D, depending on the subject being taught and the type of educational institution.

Summary of what this career entails

A professor is a teacher of students on a college or university level. For the most part professors teach students in classes that will lead them to a degree. A professor also teaches classes that will help student develop skills that will help them become professionals. Often times students in a college or university are trying to develop both an education and professional skills at the same time.

Examples and or details of work

Often times professors, because of their level of expertise in a given field will be called upon to give lectures outside of the classrooms. Whether it is at a meeting in the school that the professor works for or for another school or even in a conference that has to do with the concentration he/she teaches. For example a journalism professor is likely also to be a writer for a newspaper and he may be at journalism conferences that have nothing to do with teaching journalism, but about the genre itself. In other words expertise on a professional level is a must to be a professor. Because professors are dealing with adults, their responsibility is different from a teacher of elementary, middle schools and high schools. A professor technically does not have to go out of his/her way to help students that don’t want to be helped, in grade school it can be argued that it is the most important part of the job. With that said, a professor must have control of the class in terms of noise control, directing traffic (in terms of class participation), motivating students that do want to be helped and having a plan. The plans a professor must come up with include requirements to pass, actions or inactions that could lead to failure and preparing tests.

Degrees that lead to this career

A professor must have a degree relating to the profession he/she is teaching. The degree level depends on the school, the state’s requirements and the subject level being taught.

Specific Career openings in this field

Specific jobs in this field include professor, dean and department head.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Teachers—Postsecondary, on the Internet at