When most people think of a job that offers good pay, solid job stability, and the chance to have a positive impact on others, they usually think of entering a position in the health field or in social work. But teaching is another option that is worth considering, and one that can have some very real benefits for you to enjoy. Of course, not all teaching jobs are created equally, and becoming an assistant professor in a college or university may be worth considering.
It’s a job that can allow you to teach others, prepare new generations of professionals for their future, and still earn a solid pay. It’s also usually an entry level position, and will usually lead to better opportunities down the road. If you’re thinking of eventually becoming a professor, learning more about the assistant professor position may be worth doing. Read on to find out more.
What Is an Assistant Professor?
An assistant professor is pretty much exactly what its name suggests. It’s essentially an entry level position that is designed to help an individual master the art of teaching in a university setting. It’s also usually held on a probationary period lasting from anywhere between 3 and 7 years. After that period of time is over, you’ll either be promoted to the position of associate professor or will be terminated from your job.
Job duties will vary greatly depending on the school and the field of study. In general, duties will include:
- Working with a full professor and assisting them with their job duties
- Delivering lectures to students during class
- Creating and working on designing course plans and lessons to help teach students
- Participating in research related to your field of study
- Grading paperwork and essays from students
- Helping answer student questions and work to guide them towards completion of a program
Depending on the school, an assistant professor may teach an entire course or only help a tenured professor teach a portion of the class. This varies from school to school and also depends upon the specific field one finds work in.
Entering a role as an assistant professor is something that requires plenty of training and experience. But there are also some personal traits that can help as well. If you’re considering entering the field, the following strong points will be important to have and will help you thrive in the role.
- Good Communication Skills – You’ll spend a lot of your time working with tenured professors, colleagues, and students. Good communication skills will be a key part of the job. In particular, being able to speak in public will be important.
- Good Organization Skills – You’ll have to manage a good bit of information from your classes and any research work you may be doing. As such, being able to organize effectively will be important.
- Multitasking Capabilities – Since a job as an assistant professor can involve a wide range of things, it’s important that you be able to juggle several responsibilities and tasks at once.
Nature of the Work
The overall nature of the work will vary greatly depending on the field you are teaching in, the type of school or university you’re in, and what your specific goals may be. Usually the main focus is on providing education to students on a regular basis. You may also help a tenured professor with a variety of tasks, and in some instance may also work on your own research and write papers for publication. In short, there is a lot of variety in terms of what you’ll do on a daily basis.
Almost all positions in the field will place you in a university setting, though public and private universities are both options and in some instances different schools will have different overall focuses.
Education and Training
To become an assistant professor you’ll have to begin by earning a Bachelor’s degree in your chosen field, then follow this up with a PhD or similar doctorate degree. After earning your doctorate, you’ll usually have to gain several years of experience working in the field before you’re qualified to enter an assistant professor job. About 23% of those in the academic field currently work as assistant professors.
Pay will vary widely, with average salaries sitting at roughly $64,000 per year. Low salaries are about $46,000 while the higher wages are about $75,000. Pay depends on employer, field of study, and location within the country.