Professor Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Professor Do?

Professors are highly educated individuals who teach at colleges and universities. Most of them have advanced degrees in their field of study, such as a Ph.D. They develop and deliver course materials, evaluate student performance, and conduct research in their field.

In an academic setting, professors spend most of their time in classrooms and offices. These educators must be skilled at conveying complex ideas to students, whether through lectures, discussions, or hands-on activities. Additionally, they must provide constructive feedback to students and evaluate their work. A professor must also have the capability of conducting original research in their field, which is often published in academic journals.

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National Average Salary

Professor salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Professor is:


Professor Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a professor. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

The Department of Psychology and Counseling at ABC University invites applications for an Associate Professor of Psychology to start August 2023.

The preferred candidate will be passionate about fostering student success among a highly diverse undergraduate student population and will have exhibited excellence in high-quality teaching at the undergraduate level, including involving undergraduates in research. The candidates should be able to teach core courses in the psychology curriculum (General Psychology; Statistics; Introductory or Advanced Research Methods) as well as their area of expertise. Faculty teach 24 credits per academic year (four courses per semester) in which half of the faculty’s instructional load is dedicated to core courses in the psychology curriculum. We are especially interested in faculty who can broaden course offerings and student research opportunities to support our growth.

Candidates at the level of associate professor are expected to have a significant record of achievement in the following areas: teaching, research, and service; academic leadership (including mentoring junior faculty); and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If recommended for hire, candidates will have one week to submit a tenure dossier to the campus-wide Promotion and Tenure committee. The committee will review the candidate’s portfolio using criteria outlined in the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences Standards of Academe to recommend hiring with tenure. Candidates who are applying for tenure at their current institutions are welcome to apply to the rank of associate professor.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Teach 24 credits per academic year (four courses per semester).
  • Teach lower- and upper-level courses in psychology.
  • Advise majors/minors and serve on departmental/institutional committees.
  • Engage in scholarly activity within your discipline or in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Required qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in Psychology or a related field.
  • Demonstrated excellence in teaching and a genuine interest in joining ABC.
  • Demonstrated dedication to or interest in working with a diverse student population.
  • Ability to teach:
    • Introductory Psychology
    • Statistics and/or Research Methods (Introductory or Advanced)
    • Other courses in the applicant’s area(s) of expertise (review list of courses)
  • Eligibility to work in the United States without sponsorship (ABC does not sponsor visas for international employees).

Preferred qualifications:

  • Interest in mentoring junior faculty in the department.
  • Interest in mentoring undergraduates in research.
  • Experience in web-based learning management systems.
  • Experience with (or desire to teach) online, hybrid, or evening classes.

Example 2

The Department of Civil & Geomatics Engineering invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position in structural engineering. Focus areas are structural mechanics or structural engineering.  Faculty will teach undergraduate and graduate courses and laboratories, conduct scholarly activity and applied research, mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and engage in service-related activities at all levels of the University.  The faculty will be expected to:

  • Contribute to the instructional programs in the broad areas of civil (structures emphasis) engineering and teach undergraduate and graduate courses,
  • Mentor undergraduate and graduate students,
  • Actively pursue grants and contracts and conduct research in the area of structural engineering,
  • Collaborate with faculty members in the XYZ College of Engineering and ABC University,
  • Help develop short-term courses, workshops, and seminars,
  • Assist with growing enrollment in the Civil Engineering graduate program,
  • Engage in service activities at all levels of the university
    Specific assignments will depend on department and college needs.  

Required education:

  • An earned doctorate (Ph.D.) in Structural or Civil Engineering or a closely related field.
  • Applicants nearing completion of the doctorate (ABD) may be considered; however, for an appointment, the doctorate must be completed by August 1, 2023.

Required experience:

  • The ability to work effectively with faculty, staff, and students from diverse backgrounds. The University is committed to promoting the success of all and reducing the barriers to success related to differences in areas such as race, ethnicity, culture, disability, and more. Candidates who can contribute to that goal are encouraged to apply and identify their strengths and experiences in this area. For additional information on the University’s commitment to diversity visit:
  • Demonstrated professional practice or engineering experience in the US (or equivalent) sufficient to obtain professional license as a Civil Engineer in the United States. A professional license as a Civil Engineer (PE) in the US, preferably in the State of California, will be required for tenure.

Preferred experience:

  • A bachelor’s degree in Civil / Structural engineering, or a closely related field, from an accredited institution. An accredited engineering degree is generally required for a PE application in California, US.
  • Undergraduate and/or graduate teaching experience and demonstration of effective teaching pedagogies
  • Experience in developing and leading external grants
  • Experience in research and scholarly activities, such as publishing academic and professional works. Previous research experience involving shake-table testing is particularly desirable.
  • A record of active participation or leadership roles in relevant professional organizations
  • Experience in serving or leading student organizations or activities
  • Professional certificates or licensures related to engineering and/or construction

Example 3

The School of Social Welfare (SSW) at the University at ABC invites applications for one Assistant Professor tenure-track faculty position.

SSW seeks colleagues who believe in the mission of public higher education and are committed to developing and maintaining a vigorous research program in their area of interest, teaching undergraduate, MSW, and Ph.D. courses, and engaging in university and professional service appropriate to rank.

The successful candidate should provide evidence of commitment to or experience promoting and fostering a learning environment that supports individuals from diverse backgrounds. There is strong interest in attracting candidates with the qualifications and experience to contribute to the teaching of advanced clinical practice courses.

Minimum qualifications:

  • MSW from a college or university accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or an internationally recognized accrediting organization
  • Two or more years post-MSW social work practice experience
  • Earned doctoral degree in social work, social welfare, or a related field from a college or university accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or an internationally recognized accrediting organization by May 2023
  • Commitment to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service
  • Demonstrated strength and success in research productivity
  • Experience teaching and/or developing online courses, and willingness to teach remotely or online
  • Address in your application your ability to work within a diverse environment and to prepare students to work effectively in a world of increasing diversity and global social change.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Demonstrated capacity to secure external funding for research
  • Community-engaged participatory research methodological expertise
  • Research focus on health equity and minority health disparities, with an emphasis on mental health
  • Research agenda within the arena of community-based, interdisciplinary implementation science

Sample Interview Questions

  • Why did you decide to pursue a career in academia?
  • Can you tell me about your college or university teaching experience?
  • What is your approach to course development and curriculum design?
  • How have you adapted your teaching style to accommodate a variety of learning styles or abilities?
  • What are your methods for incorporating technology into your classroom?
  • Teaching responsibilities and research pursuits must be balanced. How do you manage it?
  • What strategies do you use to engage and motivate your students?
  • Describe a time you secured funding for your research. What did you learn?
  • What are your methods for evaluating student performance and providing constructive feedback?
  • In your field of study, how do you stay current?
  • How would you advise new professors just beginning their careers?
  • What courses have you created or proposed in the past five years?

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