How To Have A Career As A Professor

A Professor, a college/university lecturer, teaches the students at the University or Institute level in a specialized field of education. Unlike school teachers, professors in Universities specialize in one field of studies and are highly qualified to teach college courses.

The professors with competent knowledge and experience in a particular field can also research the respective field and write and publish research papers. A Professor can work in a private or government-based University/Institutes. They can also pursue their careers in research-based institutes, laboratories, do fieldwork, and even work in coaching centres.

About the Professor

A Professor has a wide range of responsibilities on their specialization and their skill set. Professors are involved in multiple tasks, such as teaching, researching, writing thesis papers, supervising, etc. 

If you want to be involved in teaching, you should have the skills to be a good teacher-- communication skills and adequate knowledge.

If you have a curious nature, you could get into researching your field of studies. You can become a researcher in various institutes and laboratories or even head managerial and administrative posts in one has the leadership skill. 

Eligibility to become a Professor

You can pursue a career as a professor at the Ph.D. level.

  • The candidate is required to pass 10+2 in any stream from a recognized board.
  • The candidate must pass an under graduation and postgraduation level degree in any stream from a recognized institute.
  • The candidates are preferred to pursue a Ph.D. degree in the specific stream to avail themselves a career path in Research-based institutions.
  • In India, qualifying UGC NET is required if you want to take this profession. 

How to Become a Professor

If you want to have a career as a professor, you will need to pass your boards and maybe a college admission entrance exam. After passing, you will be ranked based on your merit and admitted if you secure a seat at the reputed institute for your interested field of studies. 

You will then dedicate three years for the Bachelor's degree (Hons.), then two years for your Master's degree, and lastly 5+ years as a Ph.D. student. You can later continue studying for postdoctoral.

  • There are many career path which a candidate can go for a career as a Professor. The candidate can opt for any stream in 10+2. After schooling, the candidate has to go for a graduation degree in any stream for 3 to 4 years. The candidate has to go for a postgraduation degree in a specific specialization for 1 to 2 years. Later if the candidate wants to go into the research field, he can apply for a Ph.D. degree for 3-5 years in the same specialization.
  • The candidate who has secured at least 55% marks in their Master's degree has to go for competitive exams like UGC or CSIR-UGC NET.
  • After completing the education, one can go for a direct job interview at a private University or crack government recruitment exams for a government university job.

Top Institutes in India

India has several top-rated colleges and universities for various courses such as 

  • Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) Delhi
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (for medical science research)
  • Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  • Visva Bharati Santiniketan (Specializes n Arts and Culture)

Entrance Exams to become a Professor

  • Candidates the secure at least 55% marks (without rounding off) in Masters Degree or equivalent examination from universities/institutions recognized by UGC in Humanities (including languages) and Sciences, Commerce, etc. are eligible for this Test.
  • The candidates who crack NET are allotted posts of Assistant Professor or both Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Assistant Professor in Indian universities and colleges.
  • After qualifying for the exam, you can finish your Ph.D. degree and be a full-time professor.

Career Opportunities as a Professor

The main job of a Professor in any institution is to teach and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Professors also go into the field of research in their specialized areas of study. They either work in government/private research institutes, work, or carry out their independent research.

Employment Sector/Industry for a Professor

The various employment sectors or industries for a Professor are given below:

  • Private Institutions (colleges and universities)
  • Government Institutions (colleges and universities)
  • Coaching Institutes
  • Online Coaching Portals
  • Research-based institutions

Jobs in as a Professor

Multiple job roles for a Professor are given below: -

  • Professor: A person responsible for teaching the students at the College or University based on their knowledge level and expertise in the specialized stream.
  • Researcher: Researches in a specific subject of specialization and write research papers on the findings.
  • Assistant Professor: Assists the professor in preparing lessons, managing courses, lecturing, and facilitating learning.
  • HOD: An HOD or Head of Department, leads a particular educational department and ensures proper management.
  • Associate Professor: An Associate Professor is responsible for teaching, conducting research, attending conferences, solving administrative issues ,and supervising students.

Salary of a Professor

A regular professor can earn 44K(initial salary) - 3.1L. The head of the department in colleges can earn up to 6+ lacs.

Note: The salary structure mentioned above is indicative only and is subject to change unconditionally.

Study Material to Become a Professor

Students need to clear the UGC NET exam to start their career as a professor. Some of the books and study materials for a Professor are:

  • So You Want To Be A Professor? A Handbook for Graduate Students by P. Aarne Vesilind
  • How to Become a Professor by Stephen Jenkins
  • So You Want to Be a Professor: How to Land Your Dream Job in Academia by Drew Boyd
  • Becoming a Professor: A Guide to a Career in Higher Education by Marie K. Iding and R. Murray Thomas
  • The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job by Karen Kelsky, P.h.D.

There are several other books available in the market. Students can also opt for online study materials and PDFs over books, but the later is more effective. 

Pros & Cons of Becoming a Professor


  1. Opportunity to guide, inspire and educate young minds.
  2. Highly respected job.
  3. Multiple added benefits along with base salary.



  1. A constant need for updating your knowledge.
  2. Generally, colleges require a Ph.D. degree as eligibility requirements some take postgrad students, but the pay is lower, and the job is not permanent.
  3. The job can get monotonous.

FAQs about Professor