How to Become a Professor?

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How to become a Professor

Teaching is still considered one of the most prestigious jobs and has a reputation for being one of the well-respected jobs. If you are attracted to academia and are planning to continue your research in any field, then becoming a professor is one of the best jobs that will offer you that opportunity. If you are passionate about teaching, conducting research and disseminating ideas and knowledge, then you should definitely take up the job of teaching in a college or a university. If you want to know how to become a professor, then this blog will be of great use to you.

How to Become a Professor?

  • Becoming a professor is not an easy task, one needs to have a good academic background and their record should reflect their area of research and their contribution to that particular field. 
  • In most cases, professors usually have a doctorate degree in the field that they are teaching, in order to get a job at a reputed college or university you need to have a doctorate degree in a particular field in order to become a professor.
  • Most colleges hire students who are still pursuing their PhD as assistant professors which also helps them pursue their research while teaching at the same time. If you are planning to become a professor in India then you need to clear your National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the University Grants Commission which acts as a qualifying exam for you to pursue your PhD. 
  • Another important stepping stone on your path to how to become a professor is the research conducted by you in a particular field. A good university looks for a candidate who is thorough with his research and has published research papers and articles on the same. Any good college or university looks for a scholar who has devoted their time to academia. 
  • Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that one is not directly offered the post of a professor, a person is usually appointed as an assistant professor who is further promoted to the post of associate professor and when the person has finally gained adequate experience and spent their time in academia, they are promoted to the post of a professor.


For becoming a Professor, the eligibility criteria is given below:

  • The candidates must have cleared 10+2 in any stream from a recognised board.
  • The candidate must have cleared graduation/ post graduation level degree in any stream from a recognized institute.
  • For more experience, a PhD degree in the preferred stream.
  • Qualifying UGC NET is necessary if you want to take this profession.
  • Candidates can pursue professorship in any field; all they need is relevant background and experience.

Entrance Exams: NET and SLET

NET: National Eligibility Test (NET) is conducted by UGC (University Grant Commission). Candidates should have a Master’s Degree with at least 55% Marks from a recognised University to qualify for this examination. After qualifying for this examination, the candidates are eligible to apply for the post of Assistant Professor. NET qualified candidates can apply for the post of assistant professor at any institute.

SLET: The other test conducted for becoming a professor is the State Eligibility Test and for appearing the candidates should have a Master Degree with at least 55 % Marks to qualify State Eligibility Test.SLET qualified candidates can apply only for state-level universities or colleges.

Books and Study Material for NET and SET

  • General Knowlegde by Disha Publication
  • A Modern Approach To Verbal and Nonverbal Reasoning 
  • A New Approach to Reasoning Verbal and Nonverbal by B.S. Sijwali and Indu Sijwali 
  • Computer Awareness by Mini Goyal and Shweta Rani 
  • Computer-Based Numerical & Statistical Techniques
  • Computer Science Computer Skills and Applications 
  • Numerical and Arithmetical Ability
  • Quantitative Aptitude by R.S.Aggrawal 
  • Quantitative Aptitude by N.K.Singh 
  • Magical Book on Arithmetical Formulae 
  • Numerical Techniques by Dr. J. S. Chitode
  • Test of Comprehension and English Language
  • High School English Grammar & Composition by Wren and Martin
  • Reading Comprehension For CAT Exam 
  • High School English Grammar and Composition Key

Step-Wise Guide on How to Become a Professor

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
This is the first step towards establishing a career as a professor. It is a mandatory prerequisite to be eligible to enrol for any postgraduate program in a graduate school. This is the first step after schooling. A student can get a bachelor’s degree they are interested in and would like to continue with for their future educational pursuits. 

Earn a Graduate Degree
The next step on how to become a professor is to register for a graduate program. To become a professor, an essential step is to choose a specialization for teaching in which further educational qualifications are earned. Master’s degrees are advanced qualifications in which the coursework is more specialized and allows the student to garner more knowledge in the area of their choice allowing them to have a greater command helpful for teaching.

Work as an Assitant Professor
After completing a graduate program, one can work as an assistant professor or as a teaching assistant under a permanent professor in a university.  It provides practical experience and guidance from an experienced professor. Working in a real environment helps one in developing their skills and getting much-needed professional exposure. Research assistants gather data, collect information and learn to analyze them in the department of their subject helping them to learn more about their subject.

Get a Doctoral Degree
A doctoral degree is a high-level specialization that involves the student working on a dissertation to prove a point that will help in progressing the field of their choice. It involves research, working under a professional of the subject and presenting a thesis that is beneficial for the entire community of the subject. Getting a doctoral degree facilitates the path to becoming a professor.

Get a Post-doctoral Degree
This is the last step on how to become a professor. Many universities look for post-doctoral degrees before offering a place in their institution especially in the field of science. The post-doctoral degree involves conducting original research and amassing various other studies that have been conducted previously to prove the thesis statement. It is an additional degree and can provide an edge to its undertakers whilst enhancing their skills and increasing their knowledge. 

Tasks and Duites 

  • Developing curriculum and course work for the semester
  • Teaching, evaluations, research, fieldwork and writing up reports
  • Publishing research, attending conferences, delivering presentations and networking
  • Traveling to other universities or academic settings to participate in workshops on learning opportunities for experience
  • Taking up university and administration tasks for credit and experience
  • Participating in conferences, committee, departmental, and faculty meetings.
  • Mentoring to teaching assistants and junior lecturers
  • Reviewing methods and teaching materials and making recommendations for improvement
  • Student recruitment, interviews, and academic counseling sessions

Skills of a Professor

  • Communication Skills
  • Presentation Skills
  • Research and Writing Skills
  • Time Management 

Career as a Professor

YouTube: Investigating Academia
Assistant Researcher

Most professors start their careers as research scholars in India and then appear for entrance exams like NET or SLET in order to get teaching positions at a university. A prospective professor’s research topic, research, citations, recommendation letters help candidates secure jobs.

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor is the entry-level teaching position. All professors start off as assistant professors and are required to oversee the different aspects of teaching.

Guest Professor

A Guest Professor is a non-permanent staff member of a university. They are either invited to a special event or hired for a semester by a university. They can be at any level- assistant, associate or full professorship. 

Associate Professor

An Assistant Professor becomes Associate Professor with experience and tenure. They are responsible for activities like teaching, conducting research, supervising students, attending conferences and solving administrative issues.

Head of Department

A HOD is a prestigious position of power given to associate professors. They are responsible for managing the affairs of the department. At some universities, a new HOB is appointed every year while in others the term is longer.

Emeritus Professor

Emeritus Professor is a title conferred upon retired professors. It recognises the years of distinguished academic service of the professor. Many universities confer these titles on fully-retired professors to honour them. 

What Does the Job Entail?

  • Becoming a professor is not just about teaching in a good college or a university, the job comes with much more than taking classes for students. Although the purpose of being a professor is to conduct classes and hold discussions in a classroom on a particular topic, that’s not where the job of a professor ends.
  • A professor is also expected to develop a course plan and help in updating the curriculum and design a course by providing insights from their areas of expertise.
  • A professor is also expected to hold conferences and seminars, participate in conferences and continue working in their field of research. Some professors are also expected to finish research projects as a part of their job in certain private and government universities.
  • If you are really passionate about academia and are planning to stick to it, then being a professor will not only give you the freedom of doing that but at the same time pay you for doing the same. A professor who is through with their research and has good experience in teaching can land a well-paying job with a lot of perks by their side.
  • Some professors are also expected to be a part of the administration of a particular university and take administrative positions such as Head of Departments, supervising the department and the work taking place there.

Top Colleges for PhD in India

  • IIT, Bombay
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • Delhi University
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • IIT, Delhi
  • IIT, Madras
  • University of Hyderabad

Top Universities in the World

  • University of Oxford
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • University of Chicago

Salary for Professor in India

PositionAverage Salary
Assistant ResearcherINR 25,000 per annum
Assistant ProfessorINR 30,000 to 60,000 per annum
Associate ProfessorINR 60,000 to 1,00,000 per annum
Guest ProfessorINR 21,217 to 30,000 per annum
Head of DepartmentINR 1,00,000 to 2,00,000 per annum
Emeritus ProfessorINR 5,00,000 to 6,00,000 per annum
Source: Payscale

Top Recruiting Companies

  1. Indian Institute of Technology
  2. Birla Institute of Technology
  3. Symbiosis Open Education Society
  4. IMRB International
  5. Delhi University
  6. IGNOU
  7. DSSSB
  8. Amity University
  9. Lovely Professional University
  10. JNU
  • Muhammad Iqbal
  • Amartya Sen
  • Romila Thapar
  • Homi K. Bhabha
  • Gopi Chand Narang
  • Bipan Chandra
  • S. R. Ranganathan
  • Abraham Verghese
  • Aijaz Ahmad
  • Ashok Jhunjhunwala
  • Bhargavi Rao
  • Brij Kothari
  • C. K. Prahalad
  • G. S. Amur
  • Jagdish Bhagwat


Is BEd required for becoming a professor?

The BEd is only required for school teaching, not for a college lecturer. if you have cleared the entrance for a lecturer.

How long does it take to become a professor? 

It can take at least eight years of college education to become a professor. Completing postdoctoral education or gaining working experience in one’s field can add to the time it takes to earn a faculty position.

What is the average salary?

The average salary of an assistant professor is INR 8,000 – INR 29,900, depending upon the university.

Also Read: MA in Education

Choosing the right career is an important decision to make and one needs to be sure about what they want to build their career in. If you are unsure about whether a specific career path is suited for you, don’t stress. For more How-To Guides, follow Leverage Edu on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and LinkedIn

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