How to Become a College Professor

The first thing you need to know about how to become a college professor is that it requires a lot of schooling. College professors are expected to prepare students to become highly skilled, well-paid professionals in the public and private sectors, so they need many years of training.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college professors do the following:

  • Teach courses on a wide variety of subjects, such as chemistry, history, math, art, music, engineering and much more.
  • Work with students who are studying for a degree or a certificate or certification or are taking classes to improve their knowledge or career skills
  • Develop a curriculum for their course and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Assess students’ progress by grading papers and tests
  • Advise students about which classes to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field
  • Conduct research and experiments to advance knowledge in their field
  • Supervise graduate students who are working toward doctoral degrees
  • Publish original research and analysis in books and academic journals
  • Serve on academic and administrative committees that review and recommend policies, make budget decisions, or advise on hiring and promotions within their department.

Education Requirements

According to, a college professor is expected to obtain a minimum of a master’s degree, though many universities require professors to have a doctorate. College professors are required to have a degree in the field of study that they intend to teach.

Doctoral programs generally take six years of full-time study after the completion of a bachelor  degree program. Included in the six years is time spent completing a master degree and then writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the student’s field of study

Career Options: What You Can Do With a Doctorate

Although the requirements will vary slightly between universities and colleges, a doctoral degree is most common for college professors. The usefulness of the degree will often depend on the area of study. For example, a professor in English might also have career opportunities in journalism, editing, publishing and writing. Those with a doctorate also can become respected researchers.

What To Consider If You Pursue a College Professor Career

Becoming a college professor will require some considerations about the salary and job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average college professor will make roughly $62,000 per year. Professor jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent through 2010, which is about average.

Becoming a college professor is a challenge because students will need to need to study for several years after earning a bachelor’s degree. Although it is a hard path, the career has a reasonable rate of growth and is appropriate for individuals who are interested in teaching at the college level.

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