The pay for an university professor is relatively low compared to what you might earn in the market with an MS or even a bachelor’s degree in computer science or data science, provided you have the right abilities. Many professors have students whose starting salaries are higher than their own after they graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
There is a wide disparity in pay across specializations and levels of seniority. There are additional distinctions between the public and private sectors, as well as between countries and regions. The term “professor” may or may not have the same meaning depending on where you go. But it’s usually not as high as the market rate.
Earning a Ph.D. often results in a less lifetime income than earning an MS and entering the workforce. Additional to financial gain, there are other motivations to pursue a doctorate. Currently, a professor’s research output is the most critical factor in determining his yearly income, whether he has tenure or is on the tenure track.
However, most of these individuals have other responsibilities outside research, including teaching and participation in institutional bodies. People seldom go into academia because they expect to become rich. The road to riches will not cross your path. But if you make it as an assistant, associate, or full professor at one of the more prestigious colleges, you may expect to live well. Exciting aspects of higher education include the variety of institution types and the variety of institutions within each class.
Community colleges, four-year bachelor’s degree colleges/universities, master’s level colleges/universities, and doctorate universities all have significant distinctions from one another, as do public and private schools in general, as well as in size and scope. To what extent research is prioritized above classroom instruction is also a critical factor in how universities function. The pay structure is affected by all of these factors.
Factors that influence professor salary:
Permanent vs. temporary; self-funded versus university support: Hourly and annual salaries for full-time professors are much higher than those of their part-time counterparts.
Soft Funding: Some university faculty members do not teach but instead earn their living through the acquisition of research grants known as “soft funding”. Since its continuation is not certain, this kind of finance is referred to as “soft.”
Discipline: Compared to their “Arts and Sciences” counterparts, the salaries of professors in “professional” degree programs (such as business, engineering, law, medicine, computer science/data science) and in sectors with a lack of applicants are higher.
Tenure-track: The academic career of certain teachers is designated as “tenure-track.” They are employed with the expectation that they will eventually be granted tenure and a permanent post at the university (mostly). However, some academics are recruited for non-tenure-track roles. That may affect how much they are paid.
Ranks & Years in Rank: The wages serve as a starting point for annual cost-of-living increases and promotions in pay when an individual rise through the academic ranks from instructor to assistant to associate to full professor. In addition to faculty rank, cost-of-living increments indicate that a person’s salary increases the longer they work at an institution.
Union or non-union workplace: There are unions amongst certain academic members and none amongst others. Unions affect wages, but the negotiation of pay increases over time matters most.
Additional salary influences that are more individually determined:
Funding from a grant, a “summer pay:” Professors often work 9- or 10-month academic years and get no salary over the summer. Unless they get an external grant that pays them to do research during the summer. Internal awards at certain schools also provide a stipend for the summer.
Books: Some professors get money through book royalties. While academic works often don’t pay high royalties, professors who write for the general market or textbooks may make a killing.
Extra work and classes: As part of their employment agreement, most professors must teach a minimum of credit hours every semester. However, if their school has a part-time evening program, they may earn additional income by teaching extra classes at the adjunct rate during the summer or evening.
Administrative leadership position, chairing a department: During the summer, several department chairpersons get compensation for their efforts. The situation is different at specific schools, which instead merely choose to cut the number of classes offered. Some people with the title “professor” work as administrators full-time and earn far more than their academic counterparts.
Compensation on merit: Faculty members who go above and above the call of duty, especially in the realm of research but also in the classroom, may be eligible for extra compensation from their respective institutions. So, all these factors decide the earnings of a university professor.