Higher education lecturers teach and carry out research in universities and some colleges. They teach academic and vocational subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level to students over the age of 18.
What may I be doing?
As a higher education lecturer, your work would typically include:
- teaching (lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations and fieldwork)
- preparing for teaching sessions and developing teaching materials
- setting and marking assignments and exams
- assessing students’ work and progress
- acting as personal tutor to a number of students
- conducting research (often on behalf of sponsors) with the aim of publication
- supervising students’ research
- attending, and contributing to, professional conferences and seminars
- carrying out administrative tasks.
You could be employed in a joint teaching and research position. You would contribute to the research activities of your department and publish your work in journals and books.
In a college the focus of your work is likely to be on teaching rather than research.
- Lecturers on a full-time contract can earn between £33,000 and £43,000+ a year.
- Senior (Principal) lecturers can earn up to £52,000. +
See the University and College Union website for more details of pay and conditions.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Your working hours will vary depending on your duties and responsibilities. You will usually work long hours, but will have flexibility in arranging the timing of some aspects of your work, such as research and student tutorials. There may also be the opportunity for part-time work.
You may be able to take a sabbatical of up to one academic year so that you can pursue your own research work. You will usually need to have been in post for a set number of years before this becomes an option.
Personal skills you may need;
- expertise in your subject area
- the ability to motivate and inspire students
- the confidence to lecture to large groups of students
- the ability to express yourself clearly, both in speech and in writing
- organisational skills
- commitment to your own professional development.
What qualifications / skills are employers looking for?
For most jobs you would need:
- a relevant degree (first class or 2.1)
- a PhD (or be working towards it)
- the ability to carry out original research and have work published.
You would also need to have experience of teaching, or be able to demonstrate that you have potential to teach. You may be able to gain experience by taking on teaching duties (possibly being paid an hourly rate) whilst you are a research student. Some universities advertise opportunities under job titles such as Graduate Teaching Assistant.
To teach vocational subjects, you would need a relevant degree or professional qualification and several years' relevant work experience.
As a higher education lecturer you would usually have the opportunity to complete a wide range of in-house training, and may also be supported in doing external courses if they are relevant to your work.
Postgraduate qualifications, with titles such as Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education), are available. These are sometimes compulsory for new staff on permanent contracts and can be done alongside your lecturing work.
The courses are accredited by the Higher Education Academy, and lead to Registered Practitioner status on successful completion. Visit the Higher Education Academy website for more details.
What opportunities are out there?
You would usually be employed in universities and some colleges.
With experience you could have the opportunity for promotion to senior (or principal) lecturer with academic management responsibilities, and then to reader, with responsibility for high-level independent research. Promotion to these levels is very competitive, so your work would have to be of a very high standard.
If you have an outstanding research and publishing record, you could be promoted to professor, with responsibility for furthering research, for example by setting up new research teams and bringing in new research funding. At this level you may also be head of a department, or a group of departments and would not do so much teaching.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in new window):
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What about experience - I am a student?
Most jobs ask for some experience in the industry...... but you will be surprised what experience you have gained. Most courses have placements, vocational experience or some-other "outside College" modules; many of you will also have been part of, or worked in, sports development related organisations..... the short message is that this all counts!. If your final year [or other] projects studied organisations, projects or Sports development related issues.... these also count as experience. Your Governing body qualifications, past sporting experiences, work with young people or others.... also counts....... you will be surprised how much experience you already have!
- When completing an application form always ensure that you clearly indicate where you meet the "essential" requirements as indicated in the person specification information that will be part of your application pack.
- There will be a part of the application form that will invite you to offer "additional information to support your application"; always provide this information but make sure it is relevant.... they are not asking for an emotional "I love sport" life history.
- Always, always, always..... ask advice from a teacher, lecturer, learning mentor, personal tutor, careers advisor or someone in the industry about your application before you send it off.
- If you get an interview, which may include a presentation, practice both. If you can you should seek further help from your teaching staff or any more experienced colleagues.
To see more opportunities and advice about careers please visit the Government's careers advice service or your own careers advice service. If you are a University student a chat with your lecturers is a good idea too.