How to Become a Lecturer
Searching for a career to teach, inspire and educate others on a subject you love? Then explore a career as a lecturer! This career is very popular for people who want a rewarding career and are passionate about a particular subject.
Whether it Is chemistry, fine art, engineering, or the humanities, there are a huge variety of university courses in need of engaging lecturers who want to inspire a new generation in a subject area they love. As well as career fulfilment, the potential for progression and financial benefits are all the more reason to explore this unique career.
Our sources for this article: National Careers Service
What does a university lecturer do?
Lecturers work in universities and higher education colleges, teaching students in one subject area. Like a teacher, lecturers educate students through giving lectures, conducting seminars, running workshops, and helping to prepare them for assignments. However, as they work with undergraduate and postgraduate students, they offer more in-depth teaching in their subject.
Each higher education institution offers a different syllabus with a variety of modules, and as a lecturer, you are likely to specialise not just in a subject but in one aspect of that subject. You will promote more independent learning in your students, encouraging them to share their own views and conduct their own research. Some lecturers also conduct academic research alongside their teaching and publish articles in academic journals or textbooks.
Lecturer roles often include daily duties such as:
Primary School Teachers
How much does a higher education lecturer earn?
In the UK full time, lecturers have a typical starting salary of £33,000, which can go up to £54,000 per year or more depending on experience.
What qualifications do lecturers need?
To become a lecturer, you will need a good Bachelor’s degree (2:1 or above), Masters’s degree, and usually a PhD. However, if you have a good undergraduate and postgraduate degree, you could gain a position as a lecturer or assistant lecturer and work on a PhD. whilst employed. Your qualifications will need to be in an area relevant to the subject area you will be teaching. You may be required to take a higher education teaching qualification as a lecturer if you do not already have one, such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE).
Suppose you want to lecture on a specific career course such as accountancy, dentistry, law, or veterinary surgery. In that case, you might also need to have industry qualifications such as being a qualified and registered veterinary surgeon. Vocational courses may also require you to have a certain amount of practical/industry experience, which will be discussed further below, and often accept apprenticeships in place of a traditional degree.
Do you need work experience to become a lecturer?
Although work experience isn’t always needed, most lecturers have conducted original research projects in their chosen field due to their PhD. or are working towards this. Alongside PhD. research, any experience as a researcher or research assistant in your field would be beneficial when applying for lecturing job vacancies. Another aspect of being a lecturer is teaching, so any experience developing your teaching skills will be advantageous or experience with public speaking, tutoring, giving conferences and presentations, or running academic workshops.
Some UK universities require a teaching qualification, teaching experience, or practical experience; however this is often a desirable and not essential requirement. However, for vocational subjects, you will need a certain amount of work experience/practical experience before becoming a lecturer. Carpentry, cosmetology, biomedical engineering, and radiology are just a few examples of degree courses that involve a lot of practical elements, and therefore lecturers will need substantial work experience.
Before becoming a lecturer, jobs such as assistant lecturer, graduate teaching assistant, and further education lecturer can help you get your foot in the door. You will gain experience lecturing and work your way up to becoming a HE lecturer.
What skills are needed to become a lecturer?
Lecturing can be challenging work, with a range of hard skills and soft skills you need to develop in order to succeed alongside your undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications and experience. You might not have all of these skills fully honed yet, but if you have a passion for lecturing, it will be worth working on your professional development in these areas.
Verbal and written communication skills
Excellent at presenting information
Engaging and personable manner
Good IT skills
Ability to employ different teaching methods
Ability to meet deadlines
Excellent written and verbal English
Creative and critical thinking
The ability to work independently and collaboratively
Career prospects for a lecturer
There are great opportunities for career progression when you become a lecturer, and you can make a huge impact not only on the lives of your students but also your industry as a whole. Through experience and professional development courses, you can work your way up to becoming a senior lecturer or principal lecturer, which requires you to take on more duties and oversee the work of other lecturers.
You can also progress to professor, chair, or dean with further professional qualifications, experience, and research.
You can progress to course director, module leader, or head of department, who are more managerial and less student-facing. Other opportunities include becoming an examiner or academic author.