All You Need To Know About A Professor Career

You consider becoming a professor but need additional information before making your final career choice?

Great! This article is exactly for you since I will show you everything you need to know about being a professor in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much money you can make as a professor, but you will also get lots of information on job satisfaction, job prospects, future outlook, work-life balance, educational requirements, duties and much more.

You will also find an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about working as a professor at the end of this article.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to pursue a professor career or rather want to go for a different job instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does a Professor do?

Professors give lectures for their students.

They also do lots of research and are often part of the supervisory board of big corporations.

Professors sometimes also consult politicians so that they can make the best possible decision.

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Responsibilities & Duties of a Professor

  • Giving lectures for students
  • Spreading lots of knowledge
  • Preserving knowledge for future generations
  • Doing own research
  • Correcting exams
  • Consulting politicians
  • Working in supervisory boards of corporations
  • Developing curricula
  • Developing course materials
  • Writing papers
  • Discussing results with researchers all over the world

What a Typical Day of a Professor looks like?

Most professors start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m.

The first thing they do is checking their emails and answering the most urgent and important ones.

After doing some additional organizational work and structuring their workday, professors give many lectures all day long.

Moreover, they also conduct some research and produce research papers so that other professors and researchers all over the world can discuss and use their results to get a better understanding of the topic.

After doing this mentally demanding work for many hours, professors usually finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Professor Salary 2021

Professor salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $142,000> $70.93
Top 25 %$117,000 – $128,000$58.42 – $63.91
Bottom 25 %$82,000 – $91,000$40.89 – $45.47
Bottom 10 %$66,000 – $75,000$32.95 – $37.39
Range$66,000 – $158,000$32.95 – $78.96
Average (Mean)$102,000$50.93
Median$98,000$48.88

Professor salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$66,000 – $78,000$32.95 – $38.93
Junior$77,000 – $89,000$38.41 – $44.46
Professional$86,000 – $102,000$42.92 – $50.89
Senior Professional$97,000 – $118,000$48.43 – $58.88
Expert$115,000 – $133,000$57.39 – $66.42
Top Expert$127,000 – $158,000$63.47 – $78.92

Professor salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$89,700$44.83
Alaska$93,500$46.74
Arizona$97,200$48.58
Arkansas$95,800$47.89
California$107,200$53.57
Colorado$101,400$50.68
Connecticut$98,200$49.09
Delaware$96,500$48.23
District of Columbia$102,500$51.24
Florida$93,600$46.78
Georgia$89,300$44.62
Guam$90,400$45.19
Hawaii$93,700$46.84
Idaho$85,200$42.58
Illinois$87,800$43.87
Indiana$85,300$42.63
Iowa$89,700$44.82
Kansas$92,100$46.04
Kentucky$90,900$45.43
Louisiana$94,300$47.14
Maine$92,500$46.23
Maryland$98,100$49.04
Massachusetts$101,700$50.83
Michigan$92,200$46.07
Minnesota$88,400$44.19
Mississippi$84,300$42.11
Missouri$83,900$41.93
Montana$87,100$43.52
Nebraska$88,400$44.17
Nevada$86,200$43.09
New Hampshire$92,100$46.04
New Jersey$94,800$47.38
New Mexico$85,200$42.59
New York$109,300$54.62
North Carolina$89,200$44.57
North Dakota$87,500$43.74
Ohio$86,900$43.42
Oklahoma$91,400$45.68
Oregon$93,200$46.57
Pennsylvania$97,900$48.92
Rhode Island$92,100$46.03
South Carolina$88,300$44.11
South Dakota$85,400$42.68
Tennessee$86,900$43.43
Texas$89,200$44.59
Utah$92,500$46.23
Vermont$90,600$45.27
Virginia$88,700$44.32
Washington$97,100$48.53
West Virginia$89,300$44.64
Wisconsin$86,200$43.08
Wyoming$84,100$42.03

Job Security of Professors

Professors have pretty decent job security since they are often true experts in their fields and have knowledge most people don’t have.

Therefore, they are hardly replaceable and don’t have to fear losing their jobs in most cases.

Future Outlook of Professors

Not only current job prospects are pretty good for professors, but also the future outlook is pretty promising since professors will continue to be in high demand since our world population is growing and everyone out there needs education to succeed in life.

Consequently, the demand for educational services will continue to increase and professors can provide lots of value in this field and don’t have to fear becoming unemployed anytime soon.

Working Hours of Professors

Professors usually start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Hence, professors have enough time to meet up with their favorite people after work or to spend time with their families.

Job Satisfaction of Professors

Most professors are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make good money while they still don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work and can also alter the thought process of many people to make the world a better place.

Promotion Opportunities of Professors

Promotion opportunities for professors are pretty limited.

Once you are a professor, you will work in similar positions for many years or even decades before you get additional personnel responsibilities.

Career Levels of Professors

  • Teaching assistant
  • Lecturer
  • Assistant professor
  • Junior professor
  • Senior professor
  • Professor leading a research team
  • Professor leading the whole research department
  • University directorate

Fields and Types of Professors

  • Professors focused on conducting research
  • Professors specialized in giving lectures
  • Guest professors
  • Professors who do pioneer work in a certain field
  • Professors working at university
  • Professors working in the corporate world
  • Professors trying to make the world a better place
  • Professors working on theoretical problems
  • Professors focused on solving practical problems

Educational Requirements for Professors

Professors need a doctor’s degree and some further education before they are able to work in this field.

Thus, you will have to spend many years in college before you will be able to call yourself a professor in an official manner.

How to become a Professor

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a professor
  2. Apply for your favorite undergraduate degree
  3. Finish your undergraduate degree with excellent grades
  4. Apply for your favorite graduate degree
  5. Earn your graduate degree
  6. Apply for doctoral programs (Ph.D.) in the field you want to specialize in
  7. Study hard and get your doctor’s degree
  8. Get some practical experience giving lectures as an assistant
  9. Work as a post-doc for a few years
  10. Get appointed as a professor by the university you work for

Character Traits you need as a Professor

  • Persistence helps you push through difficult periods of your career
  • Ability to work on problems until you solve them
  • You should be trustworthy
  • You should be friendly and outgoing
  • You should be a good listener
  • You should be open to critical feedback
  • Willingness to work hard to hone your craft
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments about your work in a healthy manner
  • You should not be afraid to speak in front of a big audience

Professor Skills

Hard Skills for Professors

  • Excellent knowledge in the field you specialized in
  • You should know what it takes to give good lectures
  • Math skills can help as well
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Ability to do research on your own
  • Ability to motivate students for certain topics
  • Ability to present your research findings well on paper as well as in spoken form
  • You should be able to answer all sorts of questions

Soft Skills for Professors

  • Attention to detail helps you find solutions to complex problems
  • Good communication skills help you give amazing lectures
  • You should understand how the human mind works
  • Ability to work on research projects as a member of a team
  • Good people skills help you lead research projects
  • Ability to motivate your students
  • Good organizational skills help you get things done
  • Good time management skills are a plus
  • Patience helps you succeed in the long run

Exit Options for Professors

In case you don’t want to work as a professor anymore, you can still work in the corporate world since you will often have excellent knowledge on certain topics and will be able to provide lots of value to companies.

For instance, many former professors now work as consultants, investment bankers or accountants.

Professor – Similar Careers

  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • School administrator
  • Tutor
  • Librarian
  • Author
  • Blogger
  • YouTuber
  • Influencer
  • Consultant

Professor Career FAQs

Is working as a professor physically demanding?

Working as a professor is not physically demanding since you will do most of your work with your brain and don’t have to stress your body as much compared to construction workers or welders who have to do physically demanding work all day long and often suffer from serious spinal issues in the long run.

Is working as a professor mentally demanding?

Working as a professor can be mentally demanding since you will work on complex research projects on a regular basis and finding solutions to certain problems can be really hard and may take lots of brainpower.

Is it dangerous to work as a professor?

Being a professor is not dangerous at all since you work in a pretty safe environment and don’t have to work with heavy machines.

Consequently, your risk of suffering from serious accidents at work is rather low.

How long do professors stay in their jobs?

Professors stay in their jobs for many years since they are able to make good money from what they are doing while they still don’t have to deal with lots of stress and also really love their jobs.

Thus, their incentive to switch to a different field is rather low.

Is it easy for professors to find a new job?

It is relatively easy for professors to find new jobs since they often have excellent knowledge in their research field and are in high demand all over the world.

Thus, as long as you are a little bit flexible, you will have good chances of finding a new job as a professor pretty soon.

Is it hard to switch from being a professor to another field of work?

Professors are not only in high demand in the scientific world, but they are also able to provide lots of value in the corporate world where they are often able to make even more money.

In fact, if you work on things that have practical relevance, you will also have an easy time switching from being a professor to a demanding role in big corporations.

Do professors have a high social status?

Professors have an excellent social standing since they are considered true experts in their fields and admired by many people out there.

Can you help out your family and friends as a professor?

While you can do lots of important research and also educate many people on a regular basis, you will not be able to help out your family with your knowledge when it comes to practical things like fixing things around the home.

In such areas, roofers or carpenters will have a clear edge over you and will be able to provide much more value to their loved ones.

Can professors work remotely?

Professors are able to work remotely for part of the week.

While they often have to be present for giving lectures in person, they can work from home on their research projects and will therefore be quite flexible when it comes to managing their private and their professional life at the same time.

Is it easy to find a partner as a professor?

Professors have an easy time in the dating market since they have a pretty high social status and are also able to make really good money.

Moreover, they also have enough time to spend with their families and therefore have an easy time finding someone for a long-term relationship.

Do professors have to work on weekends?

Professors don’t have to work on weekends.

Instead, you can use this time to make nice weekend trips with your family or spend it on your favorite hobbies.

Do professors have to work on holidays?

Professors also don’t have to work on holidays.

While you could do some research on those days to push your projects further, you don’t have to do so in an official manner and can rather spend those days on the things you like more than work.

Do professors have to work at nighttime?

Professors don’t have to work at nighttime.

Instead, they work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and will have more than enough time to meet up with their favorite people after work while financial analysts and other people who work in demanding roles in the corporate world often have to work long hours and don’t have this luxury.

Do you have to travel as a professor?

You don’t have to travel as a professor most of the time.

While you might rarely attend conferences, you will be able to stay at home with your family most of the time while many other people who work in the corporate world will be away for business trips quite often.

Are professor pensions good?

Thanks to their good salaries, professors also receive decent pensions and have a rather easy time paying their bills once they quit their active careers and retire.

Are professor salaries going up?

Professor salaries have been going up moderately over the past years.

In fact, good professors are able to make really good money and if you become a real expert in your field, chances are that you will be able to afford some luxury and don’t have to worry about financial problems.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a professor?

You can have a big positive impact on society as a professor since you will be able to shape and alter the thought process and the attitude towards life of many people to make the world a better place in the long run.

How long does it take to become a professor?

It will take you between 7 and 10 years to become a professor and you should really make sure that want to work as a professor for quite a long time to make it worth the initial time investment.

Is it difficult to become a professor?

Since you will have to get lots of formal education, becoming a professor is not easy and you will have to push through difficult times when you might just want to give up.

Thus, make sure that working as a professor is really your dream so that you don’t quit somewhere along the way.

Do you need to be smart to work as a professor?

While you don’t need to be a genius to succeed as a professor, you should still have an above-average IQ to understand leading research papers in your field so that you can really make a positive contribution to the scientific world.

Do professors have a good work-life balance?

Professors enjoy really good work-life balance since they don’t have to work on holidays and also come home from work relatively early while they can still make good money at the same time.

Do professors have to work many extra hours?

Professors don’t have to work much overtime.

Instead, they just have a pretty rigid schedule and once their workday is over, they just stop working, get home and continue with their work the next morning without having to meet strict timelines as in many jobs in the corporate world.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a professor?

The harder you study and the more time you spend on your education, the higher your chance of fulfilling all the requirements necessary to work as a professor.

You should also really immerse yourself in the topics you want to specialize in to become a real expert at a rather young age.

Can professors work part-time?

While professors are also able to work part-time, most professors still work full-time since they are really interested in their jobs and also want to do as much research as possible.

Moreover, the more hours you work, the more you will make as a professor.

Do professors work indoors or outdoors?

Professors work indoors and don’t have to worry about adverse climatic conditions outdoors as garbage collectors and many other people who work outdoors have to do on a regular basis.

What does the workplace of a professor look like?

Professors spend lots of time giving lectures in front of many people.

Thus, you should not be afraid to speak in front of a big audience and you should also be open to questions of all sorts to improve the knowledge of your students.

Do you have to look good for working as a professor?

Your looks don’t matter for your success as a professor.

What’s much more important is that you have real passion for your research field and that you are also willing to work hard to solve complex problems in the long run.

Moreover, you should also have a passion for teaching to help out your students in the best possible manner.

Is a professor career beneficial for your private life?

Since you can make good money while you still don’t have to work many extra hours, being a professor can be great for your private life since you can spend more than enough time with your loved ones while you can still afford many nice things.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a professor?

You need to get a doctor’s degree (Ph.D.) and work as a post-doc for a few years before you are able to call yourself a professor in an official manner.

Thus, you will have to spend lots of time and money on education before you are able to work in this field.

Do you need to be certified to work as a professor?

While you don’t need any certificates for becoming a professor, you still need to get lots of formal college education and also some practical experience before you can work as a professor.

How much does it cost to become a professor?

Since you will have to get a Ph.D., you will have to spend many years and college and this also implies spending lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college.

You may also have to take on enormous amounts of student loans to finance your degree.

Is being a professor a good career?

Since you can make good money while you also don’t have to deal with lots of stress and time pressure and also have enough time for your family, being a professor can be considered a pretty good career.

Is it easy to start your own business as a professor?

It is relatively hard for professors to start their own businesses.

Even though professors often have excellent theoretical knowledge, they also often have a hard time applying this knowledge to the real world and also often lack the entrepreneurial mindset to succeed with their own companies.

Can professors teach themselves?

Professors can teach themselves many things they need since they can really immerse themselves in the topics they are interested in.

However, you still need lots of formal education to become a professor and teaching yourself will therefore not be enough to start your professor career.

Do professors make good money?

While professors can make good money and are able to afford many nice things, they will still not make as much as judges or dentists.

Is it ever too late to become a professor?

Since you have to spend many years on college education, it often doesn’t make sense to become a professor in your 40s or even 50s since it is just not worth it in terms of time and money.

Do professors have to quit their careers early?

Since professors don’t have to work in a physical manner, most professors don’t have to quit their careers early and can work until they reach official retirement age while many other people like plumbers who work in a physically demanding manner often have to quit their careers due to physical health problems.

What is the hardest thing about working as a professor?

The hardest part about being a professor is that you have to work on many complex research problems and if you don’t publish enough important research findings, your colleagues in the scientific world may no longer take you seriously.

Can you provide for your family by working as a professor?

It is pretty easy to provide for your family as a professor since you can make good money from what you are doing and are also often smart enough to spend it wisely so that your family will be protected from getting into financial trouble.

Will professors suffer from old-age poverty?

Thanks to their good wages, professors also receive pretty good pensions and therefore don’t have to worry about old-age poverty as much as many other people out there who are not able to make good money from what they are doing.

Can professors retire early?

While professors are able to make decent money, most of them still don’t make enough to be able to retire early but rather have to work until retirement age to pay their bills.

Do professors get a fixed or variable salary?

Professors often get a fixed salary and even in case they have a variable salary component, this variable component will be rather small and you will therefore have a pretty stable income compared to salespersons whose income often greatly depends on the number and volume of sales they make.

Can you get rich as a professor?

While you can make decent money, it will still be almost impossible for professors to get rich from what they are doing.

If your goal is to become rich, you should not only rely on your professor salary but should rather try to get jobs in the supervisory board of big corporations to make really good money on the side.

Do professors need a second job?

Thanks to your good salary, you don’t need to get a second job as a professor but can rather spend lots of leisure with your family or on the things you like most.

Do you get continuous training as a professor?

You don’t get continuous training as a professor.

Instead, it will be on you to hone your craft and to invest lots of time in doing demanding research to become a real expert in your field in the long run.

Do you get sick pay as a professor?

Professors also often receive sick pay.

However, this also greatly depends on the region you want to work in and if you are not sure in this regard, you should consult other professors in your region to get additional information on this topic.

Do professors have a high level of responsibility?

Professors have a high level of responsibility since they teach many different people on a regular basis and your students will often look up to you.

Thus, it is crucial that you spread knowledge that helps shaping society in a kind and polite manner instead of supporting rather unpleasant political attitudes.

Can professors work abroad?

Professors are needed all over the world.

However, before you decide on working abroad, make sure to inform yourself about working conditions and salaries in the country you want to migrate to since those things might be quite different from what you are used to at home.

Is it stressful to work as a professor?

Working as a professor is not stressful since you don’t have to deal with high levels of time pressure and can rather spend your workday in a pretty relaxed manner.

Is it boring to work as a professor?

Working as a professor may become boring in case you are not passionate about doing research or teaching your students. In such as case, you might be better off with a different job you are more passionate about to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Is being a professor hard?

Since you will have free weekends, holidays and also come home from work relatively early while you also don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work, you will have a rather relaxed workday most of the time and working as a professor can therefore not be considered hard when taking all major relevant factors into account.

Are professors at risk of burnout?

Most professors are not at great risk of burnout since they don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work and can spend their workdays in a rather relaxed manner, which makes it quite unlikely that they suffer from burnout or other mental problems related to their jobs.

Is there a dress code for professors?

You don’t have to meet a certain dress code when you want to work as a professor.

Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable with.

What kind of professors are paid the most?

The more senior you become and the more renowned you are, the more money you can make from your job as a professor.

Moreover, if you want to make really good money, you should not just focus on your academic career but also get a job in the supervisory board of big corporations.

What percentage of professors are women?

While around 43% of all professors are women, around 57% are men.

Thus, there is a pretty healthy balance of men and women working in this field.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a professor?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a professor.

What’s much more important is that you are passionate about doing research and teaching students to stay happy and motivated with what you are doing in the long run.

Do professors have a high life expectancy?

Professors have pretty decent life expectancy since they work in a pretty safe environment and also don’t have to deal with lots of stress, which makes it less likely to suffer from serious health problems.

Do professors suffer from sleeping problems?

Professors don’t suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs most often since they don’t have to work at nighttime and can maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

What states are best for working as a professor?

Since you can make good money across states, you should choose a region where there are many good universities while living costs are still low enough to make a good living from your professor salary.

Who do professors work with?

Professors work with many students as well as researchers from all over the world.

Thus, it is crucial that you are a friendly and outgoing person to connect well with your audience.

Is working as a professor cool?

Being a professor is considered cool by many people out there.

Yet, you should still not make your career choice according to what’s cool but rather according to your individual preferences and your goals in life.

Can you start a side hustle as a professor?

Since you will have plenty of expert knowledge, it is also pretty easy for you as a professor to start a side hustle.

For instance, you could just start a blog or a YouTube channel where you talk about your latest research findings and also answer the questions of your audience to monetize your followers.

Do you have to be creative as a professor?

You don’t have to be overly creative as a professor.

However, being creative can still help making your lectures more interesting for your students.

Do professors suffer from being overweight?

Since professors don’t exercise and don’t burn enough calories at work, many of them suffer from being overweight or even obese and may have to work out after work to stay fit in the long run.

How employable are professors?

Professors are in high demand and are pretty employable right now since they are true experts in their fields and can provide lots of important knowledge to their students.

Are professors happy with their jobs?

Most professors are pretty happy with their jobs since they can make really good money from what they are doing while they still have more than enough time to spend with their family or on their hobbies.

Is working as a professor exciting?

Working as a professor is not that exciting since you will do many things over and over again and you will therefore develop a certain routine rather quickly.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a professor?

If you specialize in environmental topics as a professor, you can also raise awareness of important environmental problems and why it is important to solve them so get more people to behave in an eco-friendly manner.

What are the pros and cons of working as a professor?

If you still consider becoming a professor, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a professor career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/185415/average-salaries-for-college-faculty-members-in-public-institutions/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/185402/average-salaries-for-college-faculty-members-in-private-institutions/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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