Have you ever thought about working in academia? Would you like to be involved in teaching and research in your professional career? If you are exploring career options in higher education, the following article will help you understand the various types of academic jobs, expectations of employers, and skills you would need to develop. Please be aware that job roles and the nature of responsibilities may vary between universities.
What is the nature of the work?
The work of an academic is varied. Being able to collaborate with others and complete research is what draws many people to the world of academia. You could be invited to present papers at national and overseas conferences and engage with researchers in your field. Seeing your own work published could be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. You could deliver classroom and online lectures to young adults and inspire them to follow an academic career. As an established academic, you could mentor and coach less experienced academics and foster their professional development.
However, you could find the environment of a university slightly competitive. You could face competition from other academics who are keen to climb the career ladder and gain promotions. You might struggle to meet ever-increasing demands on your time. A work-life balance survey conducted by Times Higher Education has revealed that academics often struggle to juggle family commitments and workloads.
Some academics find it challenging to work in a hierarchical university and to navigate workplace politics. Decision-making processes could be longer within the organisation, with lots of committees in place. You could find yourself in an environment which is somewhat resistant to change initiatives.
What are the opportunities to develop myself?
As an academic, you will be part of a learning culture. Researching in your field will enable you to expand your knowledge. You could attend conferences and be inspired by the work of leading scholars. Academic events provide fantastic opportunities to exchange views with other researchers, to meet leading academics, and to keep informed about developments in your field. As a lecturer, you could be asked to write new academic courses. You might supervise postgraduate students and guide them through their dissertation journey. Many academics find supervision intellectually stimulating and rewarding. Your employer might offer you some leadership, coaching and other professional courses to take.
What skills do I need?
Based on a statistical analysis of 500,000* (UK) job listings, the three soft skills most often indicated in job listings include ‘organisation’, ‘communication skills’ and ‘motivated’.
In academia, organisation is one of the most important skills to possess. You will be required to meet tight deadlines and work without supervision. If you teach, you might need to complete administrative tasks and coordinate assessments. Without the traditional nine-to-five working pattern, you will be more in charge of your schedule and therefore time management is key. As a researcher, you will be working together with other scholars, presenting your findings in front of other academics, or lecturing to large groups of students. To excel in your field, you will need to be a confident communicator and explain complex concepts in simple language.
You could enjoy flexible working arrangements and deliver your work from home as well as from the campus. However, you will need to be able to motivate yourself and handle the lack of social contact at times. Resilience is important because you could face challenges such as rejections of research grant applications. Being passionate about your subject field and making a positive difference in the life of others could help you to navigate through difficult times.
What are examples of academic jobs?
Teaching Associate: Perhaps the easiest way to get started is to work as an associate lecturer, taking up freelance teaching and marking assignments. For most associate positions, you will need to have a doctorate degree in a relevant field. Some universities prefer taking on freelancers with industry experience as well as a postgraduate degree. Being an associate could help you to get your foot in the door and could contribute to gaining a full-time contract. You can find teaching associate vacancies here
Lecturer: As an established lecturer, you will be supporting students with their academic studies. You would deliver lectures, assess students’ academic work, mentor others, write academic courses and complete research, just to mention a few of the responsibilities. You can find lecturer vacancies here.
Senior Lecturer: As you advance in your career, you could be promoted to a senior level and be involved in strategic decision making. Your work might cover research or teaching, although some employers may ask you to contribute in both areas. Some of the criteria of working at this level may include a track record of publishing internationally and having extensive teaching experience at both under and postgraduate levels. You can find senior lecturer vacancies here.
Professor: As a member of the senior management team, you will take responsibility for strategic development and directly influencing decision making. You would need to show the drive and vision to lead change at an organisational level. You would be bringing innovative changes to teaching practices and aspire to continuously improve the student experience. You would need to possess a doctoral degree in a relevant field, and have experience of academic leadership as well as an outstanding background in research. You can find professor vacancies here.
Research Fellow: There are a range of different research titles which you might come across e.g.: postdoctoral research associate, research assistant, research fellow. To be considered for vacancies, you will need to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of research methods and expertise in analysing data. A doctorate degree in a relevant field is a key application requirement. You can find research fellow vacancies here.
Researcher: Experienced academic researchers may be involved in both teaching and research. You could be collecting large amounts of data, analysing it and drawing in-depth conclusions from it. You would collate and summarise evidence of your work, for both academic and non-academic audiences. You will need to be able to ask searching questions and demonstrate strong critical thinking skills. You can find researcher vacancies here.
Head of Department: You will be providing leadership within the university and manage a number of teams. The ability to collaborate is key because you could be developing links with external organisations. As a member of the senior leadership team, you would influence the university’s strategic plan and contribute to the university maintaining and increasing its reputation. You can find head of department vacancies here.
Dean: At this level, you would oversee the quality of academic teaching and lead a number of academic staff members. You would need to have a unique set of skills and experience to excel at this level: senior leadership, leading complex change projects, track record of innovative teaching, and a commitment to widening participation. You can find dean vacancies here.
How do I get started?
#Take inventory of your skills: Explore some of the advertised teaching and research jobs on jobs.ac.uk. Then, make a detailed list of your strength and improvement areas. Do you excel at academic writing? How confident do you feel when communicating to others? How easily can you cope when working remotely? Have you got the necessary academic background and experience? Note down any improvement areas or gaps, and devise an action plan on how to develop them.
#What is drawing you to work in academia? Take some time out to reflect on what makes you interested in working in this field. Are you passionate about teaching? Would you like to make a genuine difference in the world of research? What positive difference do you want to make through your profession?
#Ask for guidance: You might find it helpful to have a conversation with an experienced academic and learn about their working life. You could ask them questions about how they have become an academic, what challenges they have overcome, and what they appreciate most about their profession. You could approach an academic who has taught or mentored you in the past. People are generally delighted to offer advice and help those who are starting out on their professional journey.
For further advice on academic jobs see:
- Getting your post-PhD job during COVID-19
- Job Search Tips in a Post-COVID World
- 10-Step Checklist Before You Send Your Application
- Succeeding in Academic Interviews
Academic work involves both the pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination and application through activities including but not limited to research and scholarly activity, teaching, public lectures, conference communications, publications, professional practice, the building of library and archival collections, the ...Which job is an academic job? ›
Academic careers are jobs related to higher education and research. Higher education institutions, such as universities and their research centres, employ people with academic jobs. They usually specialise in an area of study that interests them most.What is meant by academic career? ›
Academic Career means the sum total of all academic work undertaken by a student that is grouped into a single student record. Sample 1Sample 2. Academic Career means a Higher Education level of study being undergraduate, postgraduate by coursework, postgraduate by research or non-award.How can I get an academic career? ›
- Pursue graduate school and obtain your PhD.
- Complete a postdoctoral fellowship and gain experience and improve your skills.
- Write and publish articles in peer-reviewed journals as much as possible.
- Strive to become an expert in your discipline or subfield.
These are: 1 Consultancy and assignments 2 Research and publication 3 Management and administrative activities 4 Other experience. The provision of advice, based on detailed analyses of internal and external factors, is an important element in the role of an effective management accountant.What are the four types of academic? ›
- accurately summarise all or part of the work. This could include identifying the main interpretations, assumptions or methodology.
- have an opinion about the work. ...
- provide evidence for your point of view.
Academic Staff (International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 5-6) includes personnel whose primary assignment is instruction, research, or public service.Is teaching an academic job? ›
At primarily undergraduate institutions, including liberal arts colleges, academic positions are primarily focused on teaching.Is teacher an academic staff? ›
The higher education regulatory body of India, University Grants Commission, defines academic staff as teachers, librarians, and physical education personnel.What is the difference between academic and career? ›
Typically, academic goals have a timeline, such as a two-year program or a four-year degree. In the professional world, there's not as much control over a timetable for moving up or for reaching a goal. The ability to achieve career goals are more likely to be subjective than objective.
Academic goals are aspirations that apply to the advancement of your education. They involve the knowledge you acquire and the projects you complete as a student, including your coursework, grades and extra-curricular activities.How do I write an academic career plan? ›
- How to Write a Career Plan.
- Set your objectives.
- Assess your current position.
- Review your options.
- Create your action plan.
- Updating your career plan.
- Business Studies. Business. Business Administration. ...
- Technology Studies. Computer Science. Information Technology. ...
- Management Studies. Management. ...
- Economic Studies. Accounting. ...
- Engineering Studies. Mechanical Engineering. ...
- Languages. Intensive English. ...
- Humanities Studies. Language Studies. ...
- Art Studies. Computer Arts.
There are other ways to hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills and many careers that do not require a PhD such as teaching, science communications, technical writing, quality control, and technician work. Opportunities exist in industries from forensics to food science and everywhere in between.What is academic experience on a CV? ›
An academic CV details your educational background, professional appointments, research and teaching experience, publications, grants, awards, fellowships, and other key achievements. Let's make one thing clear. Your academic CV is not a resume you'd use to apply for a job outside of academia.Do academic projects count as work experience? ›
No. While the education section is an important part of your resume — especially if you're still in school or have only recently graduated — it's not the same thing as work experience.Should I include work experience on my academic CV? ›
Feature your professional experience
After discussing your education and academic credentials, list your professional experience and relevant work history. This section of your CV can feature any previous teaching appointments as an instructor, research associate or lecturer in an academic department.
- Research paper.
- Research proposal.
- Thesis and dissertation.
- Lab report.
- Literature review,
- Annotated bibliography.
The most common forms of academic source are: Books. Journal articles. Published reports.What are the 3 academic terms? ›
English schools, conventionally, have 3 terms - Autumn term, Spring term and Summer term - each term is split into two.
An administrative head of department heads up the administration of the department, and will typically have little or no involvement in the direction or the content of the research or teaching. An academic department head leads the academic direction of the department. This often include somes administrative duties.What is academic and non academic staff? ›
non-academic staff means an individual who is employed in the administrative/technical, professional/managers, or senior non-academic administrators staff groups of the University. Sample 1Sample 2. non-academic staff means all members of the staff of the College other than members of the academic staff; Sample 1.Who are considered academic non teaching personnel? ›
"Academic non-teaching personnel," or those persons holding some academic qualifications and performing academic functions directly supportive of teaching, such as registrars, librarians, research assistants, research aides, and similar staff.Is a lecturer an academic? ›
Lecturer is an academic rank within many universities, though the meaning of the term varies somewhat from country to country. It generally denotes an academic expert who is hired to teach on a full- or part-time basis. They may also conduct research.How hard is it to get an academic job? ›
It is extremely hard to get a faculty position.
In this highly competitive job market, the white whale of all faculty positions is one that is tenure-tracked. Landing a tenure track faculty position can be very difficult.
For the most part, perhaps with the exception of science and engineering PhDs, a PhD program is designed to teach you to be a scholar, and a large part of scholarship is teaching. If you know for sure you don't want to teach, or don't like teaching, then a PhD is likely a waste of your time.What are the duties of academic staff? ›
to teach, study, publish, and have the right to participate in university governance. collective governance of higher education institutions and professional bodies. document.What is third level academic staff? ›
Teaches students and carries out research in universities and institutes of higher education.Who are the non academics? ›
someone who does not work in education or study as part of their job: The panel also included a handful of other non-academics.What is an example of academic qualification? ›
Academic qualifications include vocational diplomas, undergraduate degrees, professional certifications, graduate and professional degrees. Some countries award college degrees with distinction or honors for those who graduate with a high grade point average.
- Advance to a leadership position. ...
- Become a thought leader. ...
- Work toward personal development. ...
- Shift into a new career path. ...
- Experience career stability.
- Self-Assessment. ...
- Brainstorm Career Options. ...
- Research Your Top Career Choices. ...
- Try Job Shadowing to Get an Insider Perspective. ...
- Consider an Internship or Volunteering. ...
- Start the Decision-Making Process.
- Specific: I will learn new sales techniques to increase sales at work.
- Measurable: My goal is to double my sales in four months.
- Attainable: I've been a sales associate for two years now. ...
- Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills.
- Gain a New Skill. ...
- Boost Your Networking Abilities. ...
- Intern with a Large Company to Gain Experience. ...
- Start Your Own Business. ...
- Improve Your Sales or Productivity Numbers. ...
- Earn a Degree or Certification. ...
- Make a Career Switch. ...
- Become an Expert in Your Field.
- Start with your values. ...
- Evaluate your skills. ...
- Decide on your career direction. ...
- Set clear career goals. ...
- Review your career plan regularly.
- Data Science. ...
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. ...
- Big Data. ...
- Business Intelligence. ...
- Cloud Computing. ...
- Project Management. ...
- Software Development. ...
- Full-stack development.
National Certificate Courses. National Diploma Courses. Short courses. Courses accredited by professional bodies – these are often aimed at preparing students for the professional body's exams.What is the easiest course? ›
- Business Administration. Average GPA: 3.2.
- Psychology. Average GPA: 3.3. ...
- Education. Average GPA: 3.6. ...
- Social Work. Average GPA: 3.4. ...
- Public Relations & Advertising. Average GPA: 3.0. ...
- Criminal Justice. Average GPA: 3.1. ...
- Journalism. Average GPA: 3.2. ...
- Economics. Average GPA: 3.0. ...
ABD simply means you have completed all required doctorate coursework, but have not written and defended your dissertation. While ABD brings you one step closer to completing your doctorate, achieving ABD status doesn't mean you can take your foot off the gas.Can I get a PhD without a Masters degree? ›
Can You Get a PhD Without a Masters? Yes, you can get a PhD without first obtaining a master's degree. A number of universities offer direct entry to PhD programs from undergraduate or bachelor degree studies. In some cases, specific schools or programs may prefer that applicants hold a master's degree.
There is a great interest amongst working professionals to pursue higher studies. Many institutions in India offer flexibility for working professionals to pursue PhD. The links and basic guidelines for some Institutes and Universities have been outlined, which may serve as a guide to the aspirant.What is the difference between academic work and non academic work? ›
Academic writing refers to a piece of writing which focuses on specific academic subject/topic. Non Academic writing refers to a piece of writing which focuses on a general topic. 02. Academic writings are based on academic findings and academic research etc.What is the difference between an academic work and a professional work? ›
One of the biggest differences is that academic writing is done mostly to showcase your research and expertise in a specific area or topic of interest, while professional writing is often done to influence or convince someone of something.What are the 6 types of academic writing? ›
- Summary -- Reaction Papers.
- Book Review.
- Review of the Literature.
“For Example” Definition and Placement
For example is a phrase often found in essays, articles, and many other types of texts. It's used to introduce or emphasize something that supports what you're writing about. This phrase can be found in the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
The academic work week can be brutal. But how much time does a higher education job actually take? According to a 2014 study, faculty members work an average of 61 hours per week to keep up with the rigors of academic life.Does academic experience count as work experience? ›
Does college count as work experience? No. While the education section is an important part of your resume — especially if you're still in school or have only recently graduated — it's not the same thing as work experience.What are professional and academic skills? ›
The key/generic academic skills often include learning to learn (e.g. reflecting upon learning, independent learning), working with others (in seminars, in pair/group-work, etc.), managing tasks and solving problems (e.g. time management) communicating effectively both orally (presentations, seminars, etc.)Is a degree an academic or professional qualification? ›
Differences between professional and academic qualifications
An academic degree is awarded after a specific time studying the theoretical aspects of a particular field, rather than the in-depth practical applications. Professional qualifications give you the skills to do a specific job.