There are differences between becoming a university professor and lecturer. If you are interested in pursuing a career in post-secondary education, this guide is here to explain how to become a university lecturer.
Who is Considered a Lecturer?
In most institutions, the title of a professor is reserved for those who are tenured and work as part of the institution’s faculty with high seniority and experience.
On the other hand, a lecturer or instructor is often used interchangeably. This designation refers to anyone who teaches full-time or part-time in universities or higher education institutions. Those in this position are called lecturers rather than teachers because they give lectures to larger groups than classrooms and may prepare seminars. Lecturers can eventually become professors by having many years of experience and earning their PhD.
How to Become a University Lecturer
To become a lecturer, there are several university lecturer qualifications you need to obtain, beginning with your undergraduate studies.
1. Qualifications and Education
- Bachelor’s Degree: If you have the intention to work in a higher education institution, you should study a relevant subject for your bachelor’s degree. At this stage, you can major in a more broad topic like Education or even a general subject.
- Post Graduate Degrees: To become an expert in the field, you will continue your education and likely need to earn at least your master’s degree in Education or the subject you want to teach. But the learning won’t stop there. To be hired by a university, you will likely need a PhD as well.
- Publication and Internships: During your post-graduate degrees, it’s very important to perform research and try to get published. It is equally important to try your hand at internships and apprenticeships to learn from lecturers.
2. Apply for a Job as a Lecturer
After you’ve completed your education and have a PhD, you can start looking for open positions. There are academic job listings for this. You can also get in touch with your institution of choice to ask if there are positions available.
During the application process, you’ll want to create tailored cover letters.You also want to set up your CV and/or resume in a professional manner. When you write your cover letter, try to include specific information that echoes what the institution believes in to showcase why you’re the right fit. Additionally, in your personal statement, it’s useful to include your teaching approach.
As with any job, the hiring manager could request references. Have this ready to go with a list of references from internships or apprenticeships. Then, prepare in advance for your interview.
To be a successful lecturer, an obvious requirement is for you to have good communication skills. Both written and verbal communication skills will be important.
Also, working in any educational environment requires patience and understanding. You will come into contact with students at varying levels of ability, so you will want to be able to provide them with what they need to best learn.
The most loved lecturers tend to share a common trait: passion. Those who care and are genuinely interested in what they teach show their love for a subject in how they talk about it. This can increase engagement and promote respect on behalf of students.
Responsibilities of a Lecturer
Lecturers may work alongside other staff members, but they will likely have to know how to do the following:
- Lecture (of course)
- Create activities
- Improve teaching techniques
- Assess work
- Prepare and grade exams and written work
There are varying levels of the profession. While you work towards your own educational goals, you can start lecturing as an entry-level lecturer. Here’s a look at the progression:
- Entry-level: You have your master’s and can start teaching, but may still be pursuing your PhD.
- Lecturer: Your PhD is complete and your class sizes may increase.
- Senior Lecturer: Your responsibilities grow with your experience. You may even assess students who are not your own and give lectures at other universities.
- Professor: After earning your PhD and becoming a university lecturer, you can work towards becoming a professor. With many years of experience, professors produce research and publish findings in their field. They also have tenure, meaning they have earned a permanent position as part of faculty.
Advantages & Disadvantage of Being a Lecturer
Before deciding if this career is the right path for you, let’s take a look at some of the upsides and downsides to becoming a lecturer at a college.
- Research: As a lecturer, the institution may provide you with time and resources to perform research.
- Job Satisfaction: Most people who become lecturers have a passion for the subject they teach. As a lecturer, you have the opportunity to challenge ideas and debate theories.
- Making a Difference: Lecturers are in the perfect place to serve as mentors and inspire students. You will know that you are making a difference in the lives of many.
- Flexibility: For the most part, the job has a lot of flexibility. Whether a sabbatical is taken or not, university lecturers can balance work and life through their teaching schedule.
- Travel: This is especially true of experienced lecturers, but all lecturers may have the opportunity to travel abroad to give a lecture at other universities and at conferences.
On the flipside, there are some downsides to considering a career as a university lecturer.
- Competition: It is a highly competitive field, so finding a job isn’t always easy, even with the qualifications.
- Working Hours: Despite the flexibility of the schedule, lecturers often work weekends and during the evenings.
- Wage: Lecturers can make a decent living, but it’s not always commensurate with the effort and time they dedicate to the job.
Salary and Job Growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for postsecondary teachers is expected to grow as enrollment grows. It is expected that through 2028, there will be faster-than-average job growth of 11%.
In 2018, the median wage was $78,470 per year in the U.S. A lecturer can expect an average salary of $110,835 in Australia. A senior lecturer in Singapore averages S$98,311, and in the United Kingdom, the figure is £45,187 a year.
The Bottom Line
Choosing to pursue a degree in Education and a career as a lecturer is highly subjective. But, if it is right for you, you have the opportunity for a highly rewarding career. Lecturers have the freedom to pursue their own research. At the same time, they become experts in their field and share their knowledge with students.
If you feel that becoming a lecturer is a path you would like to pursue, consider beginning with an online and tuition-free program to earn your Master’s of Education from the University of the People.