Professors are key academic staff at colleges and universities. They develop in-depth familiarity with their material over extensive years of specialized education and share their knowledge in lectures they prepare, using appropriate textbooks, and keeping up to date with current trends and developments of the topic.

Apart from teaching, they conduct research as well, probing questions that have not been sufficiently dealt with in their area of expertise. They read articles and attend conferences to keep up with the work of fellow researchers and publish their findings and polemics with current results in academic journals.

Providing services at their department is also an important part of their job, such as evaluating students, organizing conferences, writing proposals for grants, and editing journals. They assist with creating course material and supervising postgraduate students as well. Being a professor is a coveted position for many who are attracted to academia. The competition is fierce, and you need a good amount of passion and dedication to rise to this beautiful and fulfilling role.

What Does a Professor Do

There are certain skills that many professors have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed interpersonal skills, speaking skills and writing skills.

Learn more about what a Professor does

How To Become a Professor

If you're interested in becoming a professor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 52.0% of professors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 24.9% of professors have master's degrees. Even though most professors have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Professor

Professor Career Paths

Average Salary for a Professor

Professors in America make an average salary of $157,570 per year or $76 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $280,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $88,000 per year.
Average Professor Salary
$157,570 Yearly
$75.75 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Professor

The role of a professor includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general professor responsibilities:

  • Staff inpatient housestaff teaching service with learners including medical students, interns, residents
  • Possess a strong dedication to clinical activities, as they relate to an individual's areas of expertise
  • The department of diabetic complication metabolism at city of hope

There are several types of professor, including:

Adjunct Professor


So if you're wondering if there's a difference between the adjunct professor that taught your chemistry I class and the professor who teaches the astronomy II class, there is. An adjunct professor is typically hired on a contractual basis.

While it may not be a permanent position, an adjunct professor does essentially the same things a regular professor does. From writing a syllabus to teaching the class, holding office hours and grading tests, an adjunct professor position really is a great starting point if you want to become a full-time professor in the future. Or, ya know, if you just need a little extra cash on the side.

  • Average Salary: $98,821
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Adjunct Instructor


As an adjunct instructor, your goal is to impart your wisdom onto students. While also being in charge of coming up with a syllabus for your class, holding office hours and grading their papers. We should note that adjunct instructors aren't full-time. And you probably shouldn't expect the same benefits that are accosted to professors.

Adjunct Instructors are hired on a contractual basis, meaning it's a nice way to make a little extra money but probably shouldn't be your only gig. If your goal is to become a full-time professor in the future, then this is definitely the right stepping stone on that path. If nothing else, you'll at least be able to work on your public speaking. We don't have to tell you how handy that can come in.

  • Average Salary: $52,030
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Adjunct Faculty


The adjunct faculty is responsible for teaching graduates and undergraduate students in a specific field of expertise. You are allowed to plan, create, lecture, and provide in-class discussions and assignments. Your job allows you to plan and develop a syllabus and ensure it meets college and departmental standards. Plus, you are responsible for grading and assigning papers, exams, and quizzes.

You will give class instructions, evaluate students' performance, and also coordinate courseware and curriculum with the academic department head. However, you will need to be a people person as you need to develop and sustain relationships with students for effectiveness. You will also need to participate in faculty meetings involving departmental updates, prepare materials and supervise the distribution, and make copies of supplementary materials available for distribution in class. You may also be required to maintain a record of student progress, involvement, and attendance.

An adjunct faculty must be detail-oriented, punctual, and must be able to motivate. He/She must also be a lover of academics, possess excellent communication skills, self-discipline, and the ability to teach well. The average salary of an adjunct faculty yearly is $50,000. An adjunct faculty must have a Master's degree in a related academic field.

  • Average Salary: $83,069
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Professor Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active professor jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where professors earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Professor Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
5New Jersey567$140,543
7North Carolina499$155,201
14South Carolina291$132,732
26West Virginia157$136,285
29New Mexico88$157,242
38Rhode Island58$138,841
40New Hampshire34$130,081
42North Dakota25$166,261
47New York0$179,258
49South Dakota0$133,861

Professor Education

Professor Majors

12.1 %
9.1 %

Professor Degrees


52.0 %


24.9 %


14.9 %

Top Colleges for Professors

1. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




2. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition




3. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition




7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




8. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




9. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




10. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Professor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.3% of professors listed philosophy on their resume, but soft skills such as interpersonal skills and speaking skills are important as well.

  • Philosophy, 10.3%
  • Curriculum Development, 9.2%
  • Mathematics, 5.9%
  • C++, 5.0%
  • Literature, 4.9%
  • Other Skills, 64.7%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Professor Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Professor templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Professor resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Professor diversity

Professor Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among professors, 43.3% of them are women, while 56.7% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among professors is White, which makes up 64.5% of all professors.

  • The most common foreign language among professors is Spanish at 52.0%.

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Best States For a Professor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a professor. The best states for people in this position are California, Utah, New York, and Connecticut. Professors make the most in California with an average salary of $184,725. Whereas in Utah and New York, they would average $179,789 and $179,258, respectively. While professors would only make an average of $175,104 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alabama

Total Professor Jobs: 246
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Mississippi

Total Professor Jobs: 160
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Michigan

Total Professor Jobs: 348
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Professors

How Do Professors Rate Their Jobs?

Working as a Professor? Share your experience anonymously.
Overall Rating*
Career Growth
Work/Life balance

Top Professor Employers

Most Common Employers For Professor

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Stanford University$255,075$122.6331
2University of Washington$246,346$118.4432
3University of California$236,419$113.6645
4New York University$219,663$105.6175
5Yale University$216,834$104.2555
6Columbia University in the City of New York$214,213$102.9971
7Harvard University$202,470$97.3460
8Princeton University$194,473$93.5036
9University of California-Berkeley$189,981$91.34114
10Cornell University$186,137$89.4932

What Are The Best Companies To Work For A History Professor?

Zackery M. Heern

Associate Professor of History, Idaho State University

High schools, colleges, Idaho National Laboratories, government agencies, law, etc.

Professor Videos

Becoming a Professor FAQs

Do You Need A Ph.d. To Be A Professor?

Yes, you do need a Ph.D. to be a professor. While some colleges and universities may not require a Ph.D. to be a professor, the minimum requirement for the position is typically at least to pursue a Ph.D. in their field.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Professor?

It typically takes about ten to fifteen years to become a professor. The first step to becoming a professor is to become an associate professor. This typically takes five to seven years after gaining a master's degree or completing a doctoral program to become an associate professor.

Is A Professor Higher Than A Doctor?

The role of a professor and doctor are equivalent when used to describe a person's educational level. Both a professor and a doctor must possess equivalent advanced degree qualifications. Therefore neither of these roles is above the other. However, they do require different qualifications.

Lecturer Vs Professor

A lecturer is a professional that teaches college-level students but also has a career outside of the classroom, while a professor is strictly a teacher of college-level students.

Lecturers often have another career and are hired to teach a specific course pertaining to their career. Academic institutions hire lecturers based on their career experience and accomplishments, meaning that a lecturer may not need to be educated to the Ph.D. level in order to teach. This is seen most often with business lecturers.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being A Professor?

The pros of being a professor are research freedom and scheduling flexibility, while the cons include instability and competition.

Here is a more detailed look at the pros and cons of being a professor:

What Is The Difference Between A Professor And An Assistant Professor?

The difference between a professor and an assistant professor lies primarily in their status and salary. While some of the professorial duties are similar, there are several significant differences between the two positions.

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