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Become An Engineering Professor

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Working As An Engineering Professor

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • $84,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Engineering Professor Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and career and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.


Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Work with students who are taking classes to improve their knowledge or career skills
  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving a series of courses
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • 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

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. Some teach academic subjects, such as English or philosophy. Others focus on career-related subjects, such as law, nursing, or culinary arts.

At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments that specialize in a subject, such as history, science, business, or music. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar in a very specific area of mathematics.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary with their positions in a university or college. In large colleges or universities, they may spend their time teaching, conducting research or experiments, applying for grants to fund their research, or supervising graduate teaching assistants who are teaching classes.

Postsecondary teachers who work in small colleges and universities or in community colleges often spend more time teaching classes and working with students. They may spend some time conducting research, but they do not have as much time to devote to it.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (a professor who cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to spend more time on their research. They also may be expected to serve on more college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with just a few students, or laboratories where students practice the subject matter. They work with an increasingly varied student population as more part-time, older, and culturally diverse students are going to postsecondary schools.

Professors need to keep up with developments in their field by reading scholarly articles, talking with colleagues, and participating in professional conferences. A tenured professor must do original research, such as experiments, document analysis, or critical reviews, and publish their findings.

Some postsecondary teachers work for online universities or teach online classes. They use websites to present lessons and information, to assign and accept students’ work, and to participate in course discussions. Online professors communicate with students by email and by phone and might never meet their students in person.

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How To Become An Engineering Professor

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Most commonly, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. In career and technical schools, work experience may be important for getting a postsecondary teaching job.


Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Some schools may hire those with a master’s degree or those who are doctoral degree candidates for some specialties, such as fine arts, or for some part-time positions.

Doctoral programs generally take multiple years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree program. They spend time completing a master’s degree and then writing a doctoral dissertation, which is a paper presenting original research in the student’s field of study. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges or career and technical schools also may hire those with a master’s degree. However, in some fields, there are more applicants than available positions. In these situations, institutions can be more selective, and they frequently choose applicants who have a Ph.D. over those with a master’s degree.

Postsecondary teachers who teach career and technical education courses, such as culinary arts or cosmetology, may not be required to have graduate-level education. At a minimum they must hold the degree of the program in which they are teaching. For example, the teacher must hold an associate’s degree if they teach a program that is at the associate’s degree level. In addition, work experience or certification may be just as important as education for getting a postsecondary teaching job at a career or technical school.

Other Experience

Some institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience, but this is not a requirement for all fields or for all employers.

In health specialties, art, or education fields, hands-on work experience in the industry can be important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of expertise.

In fields such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. These short-term jobs, sometimes called “post-docs,” usually involve working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes in the institution in which they are enrolled.

Some postsecondary teachers, especially adjunct professors, have another job in addition to teaching.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or they may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.


A major goal for postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree is attaining a tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. It can take up to 7 years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Tenure and tenure track positions are declining as institutions are relying more heavily on part-time faculty.

Some tenured professors advance to administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To challenge established theories and beliefs, conduct original research, and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need good critical-thinking skills.

Interpersonal skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be able to work well with others and must have good communication skills to serve on committees and give lectures.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers need to be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and teach students who have little or no experience with the subject.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good communication skills to give lectures.

Writing skills. Most postsecondary teachers need to be skilled writers to publish original research and analysis.

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Average Yearly Salary
View Detailed Salary Report
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Colorado Technical University
Highest Paying City
Colorado Springs, CO
Highest Paying State
South Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.7 years
How much does an Engineering Professor make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Engineering Professor in the United States is $84,218 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $174,000.

Real Engineering Professor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Professor and Chair In Geotechncal Engineering Iowa State University of Science and Technology Ames, IA Jul 25, 2011 $142,500
Professor In Structural Engineering N.A.F.A. Consultants & Employment Agency, Corp. Miami, FL Aug 28, 2009 $99,100
Engineering Professor and Advisor IPRE Institute Miami, FL Aug 22, 2012 $97,500 -
Engineering Professor.& Advisor Institute IPRE. Profess. Research & Educational Miami Beach, FL Oct 01, 2009 $94,910 -
Professor of Engineering University of The Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX Jan 06, 2015 $91,169
Professor In Systems Engineering N.A.F.A. Consultants & Employment Agency, Corp. Miami, FL Apr 20, 2009 $83,500
Professor, Engineering Department University of The Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX Jan 07, 2012 $83,232
Professor of Engineering University of The Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX Oct 09, 2014 $83,000 -
Engineering Professor Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA Jul 25, 2014 $81,120
Professor of Engineering/Technology Colorado Technical University Colorado Springs, CO Aug 20, 2010 $78,134
Professor of Materials Engineering South Dakota School of Mines and Tech SD Dec 22, 2013 $74,000
Professor of Materials Engineering South Dakota School of Mines and Tech SD Jan 30, 2014 $74,000
Professor of Materials Engineering South Dakota School of Mines and Tech SD Aug 21, 2014 $74,000
Picker Engineering Professor of Practice Trustees of The Smith College Northampton, MA Sep 10, 2015 $72,000
Picker Engineering Professor of Practice Trustees of The Smith College Northampton, MA Oct 09, 2015 $72,000
Professor of Engineering South Dakota School of Mines and Tech SD Aug 22, 2011 $70,000
Engineering Modeling Professor Iglobal University LLC Annandale, VA Nov 25, 2015 $67,710
Engineering Professor Technological University of Miami, Inc. Coconut Creek, FL Jun 20, 2012 $64,000
Engineering Professor Technological University of America, Inc. Coconut Creek, FL Jun 20, 2012 $64,000

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Top Skills for An Engineering Professor

  1. Undergraduate Courses
  2. Electrical Laboratory
  3. Curriculum Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Graded lab reports and monitored student progress.
  • Developed measuring and control prototypes for physical variables using elemental electronic devices.
  • Provided instruction in Structural Analysis and Industrial Construction, plus Fluid Mechanics for Industrial Technical Engineer.
  • Serve as assistant faculty member in the Construction Management and Civil Engineering Department at the New York City College of Technology.
  • Conducted review engineering classes in the school for new engineering graduates in preparation for the government licensure examination.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Engineering Professors

  1. Utah
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Iowa
  5. New York
  6. Texas
  7. Alabama
  8. Michigan
  9. California
  10. Arizona
  • (80 jobs)
  • (82 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (209 jobs)
  • (129 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)
  • (133 jobs)
  • (149 jobs)
  • (88 jobs)

Engineering Professor Demographics










Hispanic or Latino




Black or African American



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Foreign Languages Spoken


















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Engineering Professor Education


Purdue University


University of Texas at El Paso


University of Oklahoma


University of Pennsylvania


University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez


Arizona State University


University of Delaware


Cornell University


Pennsylvania State University


Texas A&M University


George Washington University


Southern Methodist University


University of Maryland - College Park


University of Toledo


University of Utah


University of Arizona


Louisiana State University and A&M College


Indiana Institute of Technology


Brown University


University of Colorado at Boulder

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Electrical Engineering


Civil Engineering


Mechanical Engineering




Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies


Computer Science


Computer Engineering


Engineering And Industrial Management






Industrial Engineering




General Education, Specific Areas


Manufacturing Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Mining Engineering


Information Systems


Biological Engineering


Systems Engineering



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