Taking The Next Steps: Teacher To Professor

Taking The Next Steps: Teacher To Professor
Summary: How can teachers progress further in their careers in education? Becoming a professor is the next logical step as an educator.

Going From Teacher To Professor

Teaching is an admirable and fulfilling profession that can have a profound impact on our society. Though teaching can be a rewarding career, many teachers find themselves ready to take the next step in their instructional journeys. Becoming a professor is a logical next step for a teacher ready to further their career and reach their full potential as an educator. For teachers ready to take the leap, having a clear understanding of how to make the transition from a teacher to a professor can make the process easier and more accessible.

Qualifications Necessary To Become A Professor

As a teacher, one already has a leg up on counterparts who aspire to become professors but have no teaching experience. Oftentimes, teaching experience is an important prerequisite for becoming a professor, along with a master’s degree, which many teachers have as well.

Teachers ready to start their path of becoming a professor are likely to be wondering what the next step they should take is. This depends on what kind of professor one wants to become, and the commitment they are willing to make to become a professor.

Full-Time Professor Vs. Part-Time Professor

The road to becoming a professor will be different depending on what type of professor one is intent on becoming. Teachers who aspire to become part-time professors may not need to further their education beyond a master’s degree.

However, teachers intent on becoming full-time professors will need to earn a doctorate, as full-time professors are typically viewed as experts in their field. In addition, it is close to impossible to become a tenured professor at a four-year university without holding a doctorate.

Different Professor Roles

Though many may not know it, there are a variety of professorial roles, each with its own particular duties and responsibilities. Here are some of the various professorial roles that one can pursue as a career:

  • Tenured professors
    Tenured professors hold an indefinite role as a professor at a specific institution, and typically cannot be fired except under certain extreme circumstances.
  • Full professor
    Full professors are tenured professors who typically hold a leadership role in their specific department at their institution.
  • Associate professor
    Associate professors are typically tenured professors who are one step below full professors and have not yet gained a significant amount of leadership roles within their department.
  • Lecturer
    Lecturers are part-time professors who generally have a full-time career outside of being a professor in a subject related to the courses that they teach.
  • Adjunct professor
    An adjunct professor is a professor who is not on track to becoming tenured. They can be either part-time or full-time.

Where Teachers Can Find Jobs As Professors

Teachers looking to become professors can typically expect to find jobs as professors at two types of institutions, namely, community colleges and four-year universities.

1. Community Colleges

Though one might think that getting a job as a professor might be easy at a community college, studies have shown that finding a job as a professor at a community college can be extremely competitive. In today’s evolving world, schools are making many big changes including offering more and more online options for students. Teachers looking to become professors at community colleges can benefit by gaining online teaching experience, which institutions may look upon favorably.

2. Four-Year Universities

Those looking to have a traditional career as a professor will likely be looking to work at a four-year university. Teachers who are extremely serious about pursuing a career as a professor can benefit tremendously from earning a doctorate. A doctorate will both make it easier to land a role as a professor at a four-year university and allow one to pursue a tenured track as a professor.

Resources For Teachers Intent On Becoming Professors

Teachers looking to become professors have the opportunity to take advantage of some free and readily accessible resources that can be both informative and supportive. These include a variety of mediums and can act as a form of guidance during the time of transition into a career as a professor. Here are some resources that teachers looking to advance their careers can take advantage of:

1. Podcasts

Though many look at podcasts as a medium of entertainment, many podcasts can be informative and helpful. This is especially true when it comes to teachers looking for resources to help them further their careers.

2. Books

As one would imagine, there are plenty of books out there about education.

Take The Leap

It can be daunting for teachers to commit to advancing their careers and pursuing a life as a post-secondary professor. Thankfully, making the career transition is more than possible if one is ready to put in the time and effort. By furthering one’s education and taking advantage of all of the resources available, one can start taking steps today to make their dreams of becoming a professor a reality.


  • Podcasts
    • The Cult Of Pedagogy
      This podcast is a great resource for teachers and provides useful takeaways on topics related to teaching and the classroom.
    • Truth For Teachers
      This is a by-teacher-for-teachers podcast hosted by teacher Angela Watson. The show touches on a range of topics and provides insightful thoughts on an array of subjects and ideas related to teaching.
    • Teachers Need Teachers
      This podcast aims to provide teachers with tips and suggestions to help them stay mentally well in a job that can be extremely stressful and overwhelming at times. This podcast can be especially helpful for those new to teaching.
  • Books
    • Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters, by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst
      This book offers insight into why some students have difficulty reading and how teachers can help them.
    • Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management, by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey
      This book dives into ideas about classroom management and aims to dispel some conventional thoughts on the subject.
    • Teaching With the Brain in Mind (revised 2nd edition), by Eric Jensen
      This book aims to show teachers how they can better prepare their students' brains to learn.