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The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

How to be a lecturer?

Find out how to become a lecturer at a college or university with this guide plus salary expectations, required skills and more.

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If you enjoy academia, want to pursue your own research, earn a salary, and teach others, it sounds like becoming a lecturer could be the right fit for you. Perhaps teaching is something you've been thinking about, but you don’t fancy working with children. That’s where further education comes in. Here we explore how to qualify as a lecturer to help you understand the route you need to follow.

 

What’s the difference between a teacher and a lecturer?

 

Lecturers, or professors as they’re referred to in the US, teach young people aged 18 and above in universities and colleges. Lecturers must possess expertise within a specific subject area to be able to teach at bachelors and master’s level.

 

Teachers on the other hand, work with children and under 18 years old’s, with some teachers covering several subjects themselves. Lecturers are usually expected to hold both a bachelors and a master’s degree while teachers generally just need a bachelors and a teaching qualification.

 

What are the responsibilities of a lecturer?

 

Sometimes we think we want to pursue a particular job without really knowing what the job entails. This could affect your perception of lecturing, or it may actually cement your decision to become a lecturer:

 

  • Plan and deliver lectures, tutorials, and seminars
  • Design and hand out teaching resources
  • Work with other lecturers on devising course content each year
  • Mark students’ coursework/exams and provide feedback
  • Conduct your own research
  • Perform administrative tasks such as enrolment, course changes, reference letters
  • Supervise students for dissertations/research projects
  • Supervise a research group, usually consisting of masters and PhD students
  • Reading and critiquing academic journals
  • Managing research budgets
  • Prepare bids for departmental research projects

 

How do I become a lecturer?

 

The good news is you don’t need a teaching qualification to land a job as a lecturer. However, some universities may ask you to complete one once you start. You may also need to demonstrate experience of teaching which you can gain during a PhD. So, to qualify as a lecturer you will need:

 

Bachelor’s degree  

 

To become a lecturer, you will first need to start with a bachelor’s degree. Most master’s courses will look for students with a grade 2:1 or above at undergraduate level. Ideally, your bachelor’s degree should also be in the subject that you want to teach. Of course, there is room to change your mind and alter your subject of expertise, but your masters and PhD should reflect your chosen subject.

 

Find a bachelor’s degree today.

 

Master’s degree

 

You need a relevant master’s degree to become a lecturer, which can take one to two years depending on whether you choose to study full-time or part-time. Master’s degrees are awarded as distinction, merit, pass or fail.

 

PhD

 

A PhD will provide you with the opportunity to gain teaching experience as a graduate teaching assistant. This may be compulsory for receiving a bursary. Although a PhD is not always obligatory, it is a common expectation for lecturers. For some roles, you will need several years of experience within the field you want to teach. This might be considered just as valuable as a PhD, but it really depends on the institution and the position you are applying for.

 

Ready to find a master’s or PhD?

 

Published academic research

 

As many universities are concerned about their research quantity and quality, having your research published will boost your chances of being employed as a lecturer as this can help to raise the institution’s profile. If possible, start trying to get your work published as soon as possible. For example, you could try sending one of your undergraduate essays to an academic journal.

 

What skills do I need to become a lecturer?

 

To be successful as a lecturer and to get hired for a position at a university or college, you will need to demonstrate that you have the following skills:

 

  • Excellent verbal and written communicator
  • Organised
  • Can work independently and as part of a team
  • Good time management
  • Patient
  • Confident
  • Comfortable with public speaking
  • Expertise in a subject area
  • Presentation skills
  • Self-motivation

 

What do lecturers earn?

 

In general, lecturers earn more than teachers no matter where you are in the world. This is one particularly attractive incentive to becoming a lecturer. The average salary of a lecturer in the UK ranges from GBP 33,797 to GBP 49,553 per year depending on the institution and your level of experience. At more senior levels, lecturers can earn up to GBP 59,135 per year.

 

In the UK, senior lecturers are known as professors and are awarded the highest salaries of up to GBP 100,000. The term ‘professor’ in the UK is not to be confused with its use in the US, meaning all academics.

 

What are the benefits of becoming a lecturer?

 

Besides gaining employable qualifications, earning a good salary, and getting your work published, becoming a lecturer can also provide you with opportunities to travel and work abroad. You may be invited to attend conferences, or present at other institutions. This is also a great way to network with other academics within your field. Plus, you may be able to take a sabbatical to focus on your own research while still being paid. This tends to be one academic year with no expectation of teaching to engage in other academic activities.

 

So, you should have a better understanding of what it takes to become a lecturer. This may be a useful guide to come back to when checking what you need to qualify. If you haven’t decided on a course or you’re not completely sure, check out our course matcher tool to find what’s right for you.

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