What College Professors Make

What College Professors Make
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    The salary of a college professor is a subject that sometimes crosses the minds of college students, particularly those that want to teach some day.


As of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 1,756,000 people employed as postsecondary teachers, including college professors. The forecast for this profession is bright, with the BLS projecting that the number of positions available will rise by 17 percent for the 10-year period ending 2020. The median annual wage of postsecondary teachers was $62,050 as of May 2010 according to the BLS. The U.S. Department of Education states that the average salary for full-time instructional faculty at degree-granting postsecondary institutions was $74,600 for 2009-2010.

Salary Range

Postsecondary teachers that work full-time can see a wide variety of salaries. According to the bureau, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,720 per year and the highest 10 percent made more than $130,510 annually. About 29 percent of post secondary teachers worked part-time in 2010, with some working part-time at more than one college or university.

The DOE notes that professor salaries increased by 25 percent from 1979-1980 to 2009-2010, adjusted for inflation. Salaries rose across the board for all levels of instructors and at all types of educational institutions from community colleges to private doctoral universities. Private doctoral universities followed by public doctoral universities paid the highest salaries, with private 2-year colleges paying instructors the lowest according to the DOE.

Job Duties

Professors teach on a wide variety of subjects although individual professors typically teach in one subject area, such as Nursing. Professors work with college students who are seeking a diploma or a degree, and may help develop curriculum for their course according to their school’s requirements. Instructors plan lessons and assignment, assess the progress of individual students through testing and grading papers, advise students, supervise graduate students, write papers, conduct research and experiments, and may serve on academic and administrative committees.


To teach on the college level, instructors must have at least a master’s degree. Many schools require instructors to have a doctorate degree, a requirement for the individual desiring to become a professor.

Attaining tenure can take up to seven years to reach, giving instructors a guarantee that they will not be fired without just cause. Tenure track positions generally apply to professors who may work as an assistant professor, an associate professor or as a full professor.


Although the number of jobs available is projected to grow significantly for the remainder of this decade, competition will be keen at schools where master’s level training is the requirement notes the BLS. For programs where a master’s is the requirement, school may choose a candidate with a Ph.D. over the one without.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources noted in March 2012 that the base median salary for faculty members increased 1.9 percent in 2011 over 2010. The increases were below the inflation rate, but were the first reported increases in two years for a number of the schools surveyed.

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Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Categories: Career Planning