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Occupational Profile

University Professor

University professors are employed by degree-granting schools to teach and produce works of art or conduct research and publish their research findings.

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University Professor (5:07)

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  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 8+ years post-secondary
  • Outlook Down
Also Known As

Biological Scientist, Educator, Instructor, Lecturer, Music Teacher, Physical Scientist, Professor, Research Scientist, Teacher

NOC & Interest Codes
The University Professor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
University Professors
NOC code: 4121
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to advance existing knowledge and develop new theories in specialized fields of study by conducting research; in publishing findings in scholarly journals and books, developing curricula and in preparing examinations, laboratory assignments and reports

DIRECTIVE

Interest in advising on research matters and directing research programs of graduate students, in advising students on course and academic matters and career decisions, and in administering and grading examinations, laboratory assignments and reports; may serve on faculty committees dealing with matters such as curriculum planning and degree requirements and perform a variety of administrative duties

SOCIAL

Interest in instructing undergraduate and graduate students; may provide consulting services to government, industry and private individuals; may represent their universities as speakers and guest lecturers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 15, 2016

University professors are scholars recognized in the academic community for their research and teaching, and professional publications or works of art. Their duties vary, but in general, they:

  • conduct research studies and publish their findings or create or perform works of art, depending on their discipline
  • plan and teach university courses
  • prepare, administer and mark student assignments and examinations
  • advise students regarding course and academic matters
  • supervise graduate students
  • represent their universities as speakers, guest lecturers, consultants and resource personnel
  • participate in university governance.

Professors also may have other duties such as:

  • analyzing and evaluating subject information to determine course requirements
  • organizing and co-ordinating curriculum and course schedules
  • advising students regarding academic requirements and options
  • serving on committees concerned with curriculum revision, academic planning, degree requirements and faculty matters.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Professors working with undergraduate students may have classes of over 200 students. In these very large classes, there may be very little personal interaction between the students and the professor. However, professors also may teach senior undergraduate and graduate-level courses that rarely exceed 20 students in size and usually are seminars or tutorials.

Most professors work long hours, year round. When classes are in session, classroom teaching takes approximately 9 to 12 hours a week, preparation for teaching takes up to 3 hours for every hour of instruction time, and grading and evaluating course assignments takes approximately 9 to 12 hours a week. Professors are expected to use the periods in which they are not teaching, generally the spring or summer months, to pursue research and creative activities. Many universities occasionally grant professors study leaves (sabbaticals) to assist in their studies and research.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

University professors need the following characteristics:

  • a desire to learn and share their knowledge with others
  • critical thinking skills
  • an aptitude for art or research in a particular discipline
  • excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to present complex, in-depth materials at a student level.

They should enjoy co-ordinating information in innovative ways to prepare teaching materials, supervising and evaluating student progress, and helping others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Almost all university professors have doctoral degrees. They usually hold 2 or more advanced degrees beyond the bachelor's level, often obtained with distinction, and have made outstanding and innovative contributions in their fields of study.

Students hoping to become university professors should have records of academic excellence throughout high school, undergraduate and graduate degree programs (often honours programs). The status of a post-graduate degree often is related to the academic prestige and reputation of the university at which it was conferred. This factor may directly affect the success of a graduate competing for a teaching position.

Familiarity with web-based instruction and research is becoming increasingly important.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Royal Roads University

University of Alberta

University of Waterloo - School of Optometry

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Becoming a professor at a university can be a long and difficult process. Doctoral program graduates often have to move several times from 1 university to another as term or temporary contract instructors until they obtain permanent employment and can begin to move up the academic ladder to a full professorship.

Assistant professors, associate professors and full professors have similar duties but are differentiated by years of experience, achievement, prestige and level of responsibility. Although 5 or 6 years usually are spent at each of the lower levels (assistant and associate) moving toward full professorship, not all assistant professors or associate professors become full professors. Usually, after 5 years of full-time work, faculty members are considered for tenure (permanent) status, which involves a rigorous review of the individual's accomplishments by academic peers.

With experience, university professors may:

  • be appointed to sit on various committees or assume a chair or department head position
  • work as consultants for government, industry or private businesses
  • move from teaching into such senior administrative academic positions as dean, vice-president or president within a university.

In Alberta, most people employed as university professors work in the Educational Services industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Educational Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 5,600 Albertans are employed in the University professors occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 78 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Salaries for entry-level university positions vary with:

  • personal qualifications
  • academic qualifications
  • administrative responsibilities
  • the faculty and university.

Salaries for assistant professors range between $60,000 and $120,000. Senior full professors can earn more than $140,000 a year (2016 estimate).

According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the University Professors occupational group earned on average a starting wage of $41.88 an hour. The overall average wage was $56.92 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Science
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Communications
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Education and Library Studies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Humanities and Languages
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta (AASUA) website: www.aasua.ca

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) website: www.caut.ca

Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) website: www.ualberta.ca/CAFA

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 26, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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