How To Become A Lecturer: A Complete Guide

Updated 21 August 2023

If you enjoy teaching and in-depth study of a subject, consider becoming a lecturer in higher education. Lecturers train and guide students in a specific subject and work as instructors, researchers, and subject-area experts in their field of study. Understanding the steps to becoming a lecturer can help you create your professional path in this field. In this article, we explain who a lecturer is, list their duties, skills, salary, and qualifications, and explain how to become a lecturer.

Related: Guide: Using Job Search

What Is A Lecturer?

A lecturer is an instructor who teaches various levels of students at higher education institutions like colleges or universities. As subject-area experts, they prepare and teach content through classes and seminars. Lecturers may work part- or full-time.

Lecturers undergo extensive education and training in a particular field to gain expertise. They may teach just one subject, or they may offer a variety of courses that match their knowledge and content specialty. Lecturers can eventually become professors in higher education institutions by gaining years of experience and by earning their Ph.D.

Related: How To Become a Professor: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Lecturer Role And Responsibilities

Although the main job of a lecturer is to provide instruction to students in their area of expertise, they are also responsible for a variety of other activities like planning, researching, and performing administrative tasks. Some duties that a lecturer may be responsible for include:

  • Planning and delivering instructions to students

  • Preparing and giving academic presentations for different groups and situations

  • Creating assignments, tests, and other content to complement lectures

  • Assessing various class activities and student work

  • Grading exams and providing feedback to students

  • Helping students clear their doubts

  • Overseeing student research and graduate presentations

  • Publishing articles in research journals

  • Participating in research in their area of expertise

  • Giving seminars and traveling to other institutions to deliver lectures as guest faculty

  • Handling administrative work they are assigned to

  • Working on improving teaching techniques to deliver high-quality education to students

Related: 12 Essential Teaching Skills And Ways To Improve Them

Lecturer Skills

As a lecturer, you need a variety of hard and soft skills to complete your duties efficiently. Here are some key skills you need for this profession:

  • Oral communication skills: Lecturers use their oral communication skills to deliver spoken instructions to students and to deliver ideas clearly. This skill also helps you provide feedback to students during a lecture or a conference.

  • Written communication skills: Apart from good oral communication, lecturers also need strong written communication skills to communicate effectively in a written format. Lecturers often need to write for research publications, curricula, and presentations.

  • Research abilities: Lecturers use their research abilities to find information on certain subjects and to write academic articles and papers for research publications. As a lecturer, you can use a variety of research techniques to advance your knowledge in your chosen field.

  • Instruction: As a lecturer, it is your job to deliver instructions in your area of expertise. This skill helps you provide instructions for large seminar-style courses, for smaller classes of higher-level students, or even for other faculty at an academic campus.

  • Lesson planning: Before providing instruction to students, lecturers prepare lesson plans that involve different concepts, activities, and assessments.

  • Modes of delivery: Since all students have different ways of learning, lecturers need an understanding of the different learning modalities and how to use these to teach in multiple styles.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills are essential for lecturers as they analyze both student work and academic sources to complete research.

Related: 10 Important Skills of a Teacher and How To Develop Them

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Lecturer?

Lecturers need both academic qualifications and experience to qualify for this profession. The more qualifications you have, the better chance you have of getting hired. At a minimum, you need an honors degree. Higher education institutions often have different qualification requirements for lecturers. While some only require a master's degree, others require a Ph.D. Some institutions also require you to have postgraduate work experiences, such as experience as a trainer or instructor. If you are interested in becoming a lecturer in the government sector, you need to pass the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC NET).

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Lecturer?

It typically takes 7-9 years to become a lecturer, not including any time you spend building experience. It often takes 3-4 years to complete a bachelor's degree program, 1-2 years to complete a master's degree program, and three years to earn your Ph.D. Keep in mind that some institutions may have their own requirements for different programs of study.

Is A Ph.D. Necessary To Become A Lecturer?

Mostly, you do not need a Ph.D. to become a lecturer. However, this requirement depends on the higher institution you want to work for. While a master's degree is the common minimum requirement, employers often prefer a Ph.D.

How To Become A Lecturer

If you want to know how to become a lecturer, use these steps:

1. Select an area of expertise

Choose a subject matter or field that you are most passionate about and then spend some time learning more about that discipline. Learning more about the subject can help you determine if you want to earn a degree in this field and eventually teach it in the future.

2. Pursue an undergraduate degree

Pursue a bachelor's degree in a subject area that complements your field of study. You may also want to explore a variety of related studies as you complete your undergraduate degree. Focus on academic excellence and enroll in a variety of courses to help you enhance your knowledge in your chosen discipline.

Related: What Is A Doctoral Degree? (With Types And Helpful Tips)

3. Earn an advanced degree

To become an expert in your area of interest, earn an advanced degree. Most institutions ask for a master's or doctoral degree in your subject area before you start your career as a lecturer. Earning a master's degree can help you learn advanced research methods and can add depth to your subject knowledge.

4. Clear an entrance exam

To become a lecturer or pursue higher education, you need to clear certain entrance exams. The exams differ from course to course. Here are the entrance exams you may encounter:

  • UGC NET: The UGC NET is the most common exam for students who want to teach at UGC-approved colleges.

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) NET: The CSIR NET is for students pursuing a scientific field like chemical, physical or mathematical science.

  • Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE): The GATE exam helps you become a lecturer at some of the top engineering schools in India.

  • State-Level Eligibility Test (SLET): The UGC also conducts the SLET. You can sit this exam if you are interested in lecturing at state-level colleges or universities.

5. Gain teaching experience

Gain teaching experience while continuing to pursue your education. Many academic institutions offer graduate students the position of assistant or lab instructor to teach courses in their respective subjects. You may also consider teaching in secondary education, which might help you with classroom management, lesson preparation, lecturing, and assessment.

6. Publish research articles

While you do not need to publish research papers or articles in research journals, it may help you start your career as a lecturer. You can also consider publishing these papers in collaboration with your faculty members or with your academic peers.

7. Apply for an adjunct position as a lecturer

After you gain the right education as a lecturer, look for opportunities to join an academic institution as an adjunct faculty member. Contact various academic institutions to find available positions.

Before applying, make sure to tailor your lecturer resume and cover letter to the needs of the institution. This can increase your chances of getting an interview with the institution. In addition, include information in your cover letter that aligns with the institution's beliefs. Essentially, show that you are the right fit for the specific job you are applying for.

Related: Writing a Cover Letter: Tips and Examples

Lecturer Salary

Lecturers make a national average salary of ₹3,04,385 per year. Your salary in this profession depends on your experience level, the academic institution where you work, and your subject area. Some subjects like technology and healthcare are more in demand and, therefore, offer higher salaries.

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips and Examples

Types Of Lecturers

Here are the various types of lecturers:

  • Junior assistant professor: Also known as lecturers, professionals with this title complete teaching and research within their department and in the field of their chosen subject area.

  • Assistant professor: Assistant professors are beginning-level instructors who help professors with various duties and handle various aspects of teaching. They prepare lessons, manage courses, deliver lectures and facilitate learning.

  • Associate professor: An associate professor performs various teaching activities like teaching, performing research, attending conferences, completing administrative duties, and monitoring students.

  • Professor: Professors teach students at a university or institute based on their knowledge level. They are at a higher rank than assistant professors and associate professors.


  • Associate Professor Vs. Professor: What's The Difference?

  • Guide: How To Write An Assistant Professor Cover Letter

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