How Do I Become a Science Professor?

Nicole Long

If you hope to become a science professor you will need to meet the minimum educational requirements of the position. In addition, you should meet any requirements related to relevant teaching experience. The list of necessary skills for an individual hoping to become a science professor usually also includes the ability to communicate clearly, to explain difficult subject matter, and to work with little supervision.

Equipment for teaching chemistry.
Equipment for teaching chemistry.

Most science professors teach at the university or college level. They have additional education and training beyond what is required for an elementary, middle, or secondary school science teacher. Professors typically have tenure, which provides job security in the collegiate setting, where the freedom to exchange ideas and discuss polarizing subjects are critical to stimulating and enriching the minds of students.

A physics professor teaching students.
A physics professor teaching students.

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While teachers at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels are required to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, science professors at the collegiate level are typically required to obtain additional education. This includes completing a doctoral degree in most instances, though some universities or colleges may hire exceptional candidates with a master’s degree. This generally applies to candidates looking for work with a community college or seeking out part-time or temporary positions.

In addition to the required educational standards, experience can also help you become a science professor. Applicable experience can be gained while studying for your master’s or doctoral degree. Options include working as a graduate teaching assistant or taking part in internship programs.

You must be able to communicate with a large and diverse group of students to become a science professor. In most instances, the educational background, skill level, and ability of each student will vary widely. You need to be able to carefully craft lesson plans and direct lectures so that you cater your presentation to all knowledge and skill levels. This includes providing mentoring opportunities for students who may need additional help and identifying those students who can take on additional challenges.

Having a desire to share your scientific knowledge and motivate students to broaden their own scientific experiences is perhaps the most important qualification for an individual hoping to become a science professor. While not all students will be pursuing a degree in science, you must be able to motivate them to take an interest in how science can impact their lives. Inspiring young minds to take an interest in the various fields of science — such as biology, physics, and chemistry — can help provide them with a well-rounded education.

A scientist working.
A scientist working.

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