A Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic rank at universities and other educational and research institutions in most countries. Professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes". Professors are experts in their field and Teachers of the highest rank.
In many systems of academic ranks, "professor" refers to the most senior academic position. In some countries and institutions, the word "professor" is also used in titles of lower ranks such as Associate Professor and Assistant Professor.
Professors often conduct their own original research and commonly teach Undergraduate, Professional or Postgraduate courses in their field of expertise. In universities, professors may mentor and supervise graduate students conducting research for a thesis or dissertation. They assess students in their field of expertise. Professors manage teaching, research, publications, present lectures and seminars, perform and lead the publishing of their research. They conduct administrative and record keeping tasks.
In many universities, Professors take on senior managerial roles such as leading departments, research teams and institutes, and filling roles such as President, Principal or Vice Chancellor. The role of professor may be more public-facing than that of more junior staff, and professors are expected to be national or international leaders in their field of expertise.
A career as an academic will often begin with short-term or casual positions as a Tutor. To secure these positions you need to be a standout performer as a student. This means highly competitive marks (ideally including some academic merit prizes), strong relationships with faculty and successful admission to an honours program (many of which require prospective applicants to possess a distinction average and several references).
From this point, it’s a matter of continuing to distinguish yourself, through excellence in teaching and research, so that you can pursue new academic opportunities as they arise. You’ll need to make a concerted effort to publish articles in prestigious journals or take up extracurricular activities.
Another way you may want to become an academic is by completing a masters program or PhD. Today most candidates need a PhD to obtain a full-time position, as the criteria for most academic jobs tend to favour coursework over research. Impressive professional experience is also looked upon favourably. Ideally, the experience will be aligned with your research interests. For example, you have experience in audit and accounting at a large accounting firm and are interested in pursuing further research in this area.
To move forward into Lecturer and Research roles, Associate Professor and Professor requires the ability to demonstrate expertise, qualifications and recognition in the area of expertise.
- Have an exceptional academic transcript
- Love research and have an inquiring mind
- Are highly self-motivated
- Wish to teach