Becoming a professor: Is it a good idea?Posted by Ayush Sharma
Professorship is a fabulous job, undoubtedly. The respect and satisfaction of moulding the young minds of future is immense and unmatchable. However, before you set out for a path of glory in this field it is essential to understand the various facets of being a professor.
It is easy to look at the front of your lecture hall and think that being a professor is such a good job. Your next thoughts would have been to reach the place where your professors are right now. There are a number of things if one knows beforehand can save a lot of time and resources later. As far your imagination goes, it should be understood that this career path is neither as easy to pursue nor as much fun as it looks. It involves a lot of hard work and intelligent efforts to reach a respectable position. Here are some things that you should understand before pursuing this career:
The first thing people should clearly understand is that there is a huge difference between being a teacher and being a professor. While anyone can become a teacher with a simple Bachelor in education it requires at least a doctorate i.e. a PhD to think about becoming a professor. What does that mean? First you have to complete the bachelor’s, and then follow it with a Master’s degree, most preferably an honours degree and then applying for a doctoral work. While getting admission in PhD and finding a suitable mentor is tough, completing the PhD is even tougher. There are very tough examinations to pass and then the most important part is the dissertation.
The dissertation is approximately a study of the length of a book that contributes significantly to the discipline. It is a way of showing that you have mastered the discipline and now are capable of contributing to it as a professional. Just dissertation is not enough. You will also have to start publishing articles related to your field. These articles you may publish as a co-author with your doctoral mentor. If writing original articles is not possible then you will have to rewrite a paper that you wrote for a course or publish a chapter from your dissertation once the dissertation is over.
During this time you can also get some teaching experience by joining as an assistant professor at some good college, or at your own college.
If getting a PhD was tough getting an academic job as a professor is equally difficult. There is huge competition in the university job market as there are a number of PhDs produced every year and there are those PhD who been hanging around from the last few years. Besides, universities are hiring in niche areas and that’s why even a PhD in Economics doesn’t mean you can apply to any opening in Economics department of any university. You will have to be more specific about your area of specialization in economics. This is why most PhDs do not get a professorship right out of their university. Until you get that, you can spend your time teaching students by becoming assistant professor to someone who mentored you or any other professor.
These jobs may be part-time appointments which although would not pay very well but will be enough to scratch a living out of the money. There are full-time limited term positions also with better salaries and if you have got luck on your side you might also be able to get a post-doctoral fellowship or scholarship that will enable you to continue your research in the university while you look for jobs.
To increase your chances of getting a job you should be willing to relocate to the other side of the country. This will increase your reach and it will let you apply to a job where you might be one of few highly qualified applicants instead of one of many.
If you successfully made it through the numerous papers, tests, and interviews to get a job as a professor, life will be not that hard anymore. Professorship is a job worth having that constantly offers a chance to grow through research and teaching. Although you will have to attend to long meetings, deliver tiring lectures and solve student’s problems, you still will enjoy all the challenges.
For a full time opportunity, the money offered is also decent. In addition, there is plenty of time to continue your research, author and publish books and opportunity to travel. You will also get the chance to meet a lot of other brilliant scholars and like-minded people who will further fuel your thirst to grow. Who knows, one of your research might become a breakthrough and may propel your name for a Nobel Prize? Or maybe you become an author of a bestselling book? However, all these possibilities are only possible if you are willing to put in extraordinary hard work and a lot of time into your subjects. For those who are passionate, this should not be a big problem and for those who find it impossible were never too passionate about their subjects.
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