How to Become a Professor

How to Become a Professor

How to Become a Professor
Suman Adhikari

Are you intrigued by shaping young minds and contributing to higher learning? Becoming a professor is a fulfilling journey that involves dedication, expertise, and the pursuit of knowledge. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of becoming a professor. These responsibilities come with the role, the essential qualifications, and the promising job outlook for individuals aspiring to embark on this educational voyage.

Charting Your Path to Professorship

1. Selecting Your Specialization and Securing a Bachelor's Degree

Your journey as a professor begins by choosing your academic specialization. Whether it's arts, commerce, or science, your passion will guide you. Starting early, excel in your 12th Higher Secondary Certification exam with an impressive 80-90% aggregate score. This achievement will pave the way for enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. Maintaining a stellar academic record throughout your undergraduate journey, surpassing the minimum requirement of 50-55% aggregate marks, is paramount.

2. Embarking on a Master's Degree Pursuit

Taking a significant step forward, clear the GATE exam and enroll in a master's degree program. Emerging with a score exceeding the stipulated 50-55% aggregate marks is essential. By excelling in your master's program, you position yourself for roles such as a lecturer or a demonstrator. This early work experience acts as a cornerstone for your future advancement.

3. Conquering Competitive Exams

Armed with a master's degree, the next phase involves competitive exams. The NET, SET, or CSIR NET exams await your determination. The National Eligibility Test (NET) opens doors to assistant professor roles nationwide, spanning various colleges and universities. Conversely, clearing the SET qualifies you for assistant professor positions within your state. Opting for the CSIR NET might land you a lecturer position or a junior research fellowship.

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4. Attaining a Doctoral Degree

The pursuit of a doctoral degree marks a significant milestone. This academic achievement may exempt you from competitive exams, granting you a direct path to applying for a college professorship.

5. Cultivating Practical Expertise

Specialization and practical experience go hand in hand. Consider obtaining a practicing license in your chosen field. For instance, a nursing license augments your subject knowledge. While pursuing education, engage in teaching endeavors, tutor individuals, or hold part-time teaching roles. Volunteering in research roles further enriches your teaching prowess.

6. Pioneering Research and Publishing

Establish your authority by contributing to academic literature. Pen well-researched blogs, articles, and papers on platforms like your blog, academic websites, and magazines. Progressing from an assistant professor to an associate professor requires publishing at least five high-quality papers or books. Elevating to an academic role necessitates a portfolio of at least ten research publications.

7. Navigating the Academic Landscape

Scour college and university websites, job boards, and professional networks for academic positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. Master the art of answering interview questions effectively.

The Multifaceted Role of a Professor

As a pillar of education within colleges and universities, a professor assumes various responsibilities:

  • Guiding student admissions
  • Crafting syllabuses and course materials
  • Enhancing teaching resources
  • Mentoring graduate and postgraduate students
  • Administering examinations and assessments
  • Cultivating the next generation of assistant professors
  • Facilitating research work for graduate students
  • Providing essential counseling services
  • Participating in academic meetings and discussions
  • Disseminating knowledge through lectures and talks
  • Spearheading research endeavors and investigations
  • Publishing academic reports, papers, and books
  • Engaging in conferences, presentations, and networking

Qualifications: The Gateway to Professorship

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Your journey towards becoming a professor hinges on several key qualifications:

  • Master's Degree: Attain a master's degree with a minimum aggregate of 55% marks for general candidates and 50% for minority or protected group candidates.
  • Competitive Exam Score: Clear approved competitive exams such as the NET, GATE, SET, or CSIR NET.
  • Doctoral Degree: A doctoral degree earned through rigorous evaluation and research is a direct route to professorship.
  • Teaching Experience and Skills: Accumulate 3 to 14 years of formal teaching and mentoring experience. Effective communication, presentation skills, and innovative teaching methods bolster your standing.
  • Research and Publications: Showcase your expertise through peer-reviewed publications, papers, and books.

The Time Investment in Your Professorial Ascent

Becoming a professor necessitates dedicated effort and time:

  • Complete a bachelor's and master's degree (3-4 years + 2 years)
  • Pass state or national-level competitive exams
  • Accumulate teaching and research experience
  • Optionally pursue a doctoral degree (3-6 years beyond master's)

Master's Degree: Your Entry to Assistant Professorship

With a master's degree, you can become an assistant professor by meeting these requisites:

  • Attain at least 55% marks in your master's program.
  • Successfully pass UGC NET, UGC SET, or CSIR NET exams.
  • Showcase teaching or research experience.

Promising Horizons: The Job Outlook for Professors

The academic domain offers stable opportunities in private and government institutions. The average annual salary for professors is ₹8,44,895. Assistant professors earn ₹5,11,686, while adjunct professors receive ₹5,57,296 yearly. The role of an associate professor commands a salary of ₹11,10,222 per year.

Salaries can soar in esteemed institutes like IIT, IIM, BIT, and AIIMS. Promotions further enhance your earnings, potentially leading to dean or chancellor roles.

Navigating the Path: Securing Your Dream Professorship

Maximize your chances of securing your desired position by networking within academia. Attend seminars, participate in online groups, engage on social media, and subscribe to academic publications. Stay informed and connected, steering your journey towards a successful professorship.

FAQ’s

1. What is a professor? 

A professor is an academic position at a university or college where individuals teach, conduct research, and contribute to their field of expertise. They often hold advanced degrees and deeply understand their subject matter.

2. What qualifications are required to become a professor? 

Generally, a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in the relevant field is the primary qualification for becoming a professor. However, some institutions may consider individuals with a master's degree and exceptional expertise. A strong research background, publications, and teaching experience are typically important as well.

3. How do I choose a field to specialize in? 

Choose a field that aligns with your interests, skills, and passions. Look for areas where you can contribute original research and make a meaningful impact. Consider speaking with mentors, professors, and professionals in your field to gain insights.

4. What steps should I take during my undergraduate years? 

Focus on excelling academically and building a strong foundation in your chosen field. Engage in research projects, internships, and extracurricular activities related to your subject. Cultivate relationships with professors who can guide you.

5. Is a master's degree necessary before a Ph.D.? 

In many cases, a master's degree is not required, and students can directly pursue a Ph.D. program. Some fields, however, may encourage or require a master's degree as a stepping stone to a Ph.D.

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