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University Professor

University professors are employed by degree-granting schools such as universities and colleges. They focus on teaching and service to their school, as well as their own research and professional practice.

Also Known As

Educator, Instructor, Lecturer, Professor, Research Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: University Professors (4121) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: University Professors (E111) 
  • 2011 NOC: University professors and lecturers (4011) 
  • 2016 NOC: University professors and lecturers (4011) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

University Professors
2006 NOC : 4121

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

University professors are scholars and educators recognized for their teaching and research, as well as their creative or professional practice. They are evaluated regularly on their performance and output. University professor duties vary, but in general, they:

  • Plan and teach university courses, which includes preparing, administering and marking student assignments and examinations
  • Create or perform works of art, or conduct research studies
  • Present their work in peer-reviewed venues such as journals, books and galleries
  • Advise and mentor students regarding course and academic matters
  • Supervise graduate students
  • Represent their universities as speakers, guest lecturers, consultants and resource personnel
  • Participate in university governance, which may include curriculum revision, academic planning, degree requirements and faculty matters
  • Organize and co-ordinate curriculum and course schedules

Professors also may have other duties. For example, they may advise students about academic requirements and options. Or they may serve as peer evaluators for research outside of their own institution.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Depending on their field of study, professors work in offices, laboratories, studios, libraries or classrooms, or in the field. A professor may teach large classes, work with small groups in seminars and tutorials, or advise students one-on-one. They also may work with a wide range of academic and non-academic groups.

Professors work long hours when classes are in session, as teaching and supervision require a lot of time. They must be productive in their research or professional activities. They also must serve their departments, institutions, academic field and communities. Typically, universities grant professors research and study leaves (sabbaticals) to assist in their research or practice.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

University professors need:

  • A passion for learning and for sharing their knowledge with others
  • An aptitude for research, scholarship, or creative or professional practice in their discipline
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to present complex, in-depth materials at their students’ level
  • Project and personnel management skills

They should enjoy finding innovative ways to prepare teaching materials. They also should enjoy supervising students, evaluating their progress and helping others.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

University professors and lecturers

NOC code: 4011

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 19 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 26, 2021 and Jul 06, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Teach one or more university subjects
Conduct research in field of specialization
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Health benefits: Disability benefits
Prepare, administer and grade assigned work
Advise on research matters
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Serve on faculty committees dealing with research, budgets, curriculum planning and requirements and staffing
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education 8+ years post-secondary

Almost all university professors have doctoral degrees. They usually hold 2 or more advanced degrees beyond the bachelor’s level, often obtained with distinction. They often 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 programs (often honours programs). Most professors start as assistant professors. So by the time they become professors, they usually have work experience in their fields.

They also need to have a strong record of research and publishing.


Related Education

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

Concordia University of Edmonton

University of Alberta

University of Waterloo - School of Optometry

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Becoming a university professor can involve years of study and experience in a chosen field. Graduates often must move from one post-secondary school to another to find permanent employment.

Assistant professors, associate professors and full professors have similar duties. But they have different amounts of experience and achievement, prestige and responsibility. A professor typically begins as an assistant. Within 3 to 5 years of full-time work, they are considered for tenure (permanent status). This means they have shown their potential to have a long and productive career. Their promotion to associate or full professorship involves a rigorous review of their accomplishments. This will be conducted by peers within the department and university, as well as outside the university.

With experience, university professors may:

  • Be appointed to sit on various committees or assume a position as chair or department head
  • Work as consultants for government, industry or private businesses
  • Move into senior administrative academic positions such as dean of a faculty, or vice-president or president of a university

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

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4011: University professors and lecturers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 97 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Funding for some areas of research over others heavily influences employment for university professors. For example, if funders consider one area of research, such as environmental science, more essential to public knowledge than others, they will provide more funding for research in this area. This means more positions for university professors.

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Salaries for entry-level university positions vary with:

  • Personal qualifications
  • Academic qualifications
  • Administrative responsibilities
  • The faculty and the university
  • The applicant’s research and publication record

University professors are part of the larger 2016 National Occupational Classification 4011: University professors and lecturers.

According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the University professors and lecturers occupational group earned on average from $38.30 to $56.50 an hour. The overall average was $50.63 an hour. For more information, see the University professors and lecturers wage profile.

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 Mar 31, 2020

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: cafa-ab.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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