How to become a Higher Education Lecturer? Listen very carefully and quiet at the back please! (Sorry couldn’t resist)
Ok, stereotypes aside, its probably a good idea to work out in reality what a Higher Education Lecturer gets up to in the day to day responsibility of his or her job. Of course, as many of you are already thinking, being a lecturer – teacher of a subject to University and Higher Education students, involves, yes you guessed it, teaching. This can entail seminars, tutoring, lectures, out in the field work.
However, this is really only half the story. The majority of Higher Education Lecturers are also heavily involved in University research and in the greater scale of things research into the overall field of work that they specialise in. This may mean that a Higher Education Lecturer will get their academic work published – either in a formal article or even a book.
The other half (um, this doesn’t quite add up!) of the role could be the administration of his or her own role and the responsibilities they may have to their students, their work and the marking of said work too!
Reality check – this ain’t a role for someone who just ‘fancies’ being a Lecturer. Well, that is unless they already have a strong academic background. A degree is a starting point and then a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy don’t you know) also known as a Doctorate is pretty much always a requirement. On the odd occasion – relevant vocational experience, plus a degree may cut the mustard. As a PhD qualification is almost always required for you to publish academic work, it also stands to reason that you have experience in this area too.
Just because you have a great academic mind, it doesn’t however mean that you are great at teaching students aged 18 and older. Perhaps that is why (if you’ve been at University) you may appreciate that some Lecturers have a natural flair for teaching, and others….well…they don’t. Therefore like any profession, it is advantageous if you gain practical experience in teaching and lecturing students. There can be a difference between talking a good talk about a subject and then having to clearly communicate it to others and the experience to do just that too. Whilst you are studying for your PhD, you may be offered the opportunity to teach some classes – take the experience when you can. Prior to doing a PhD, it would be worthwhile trying to find work experience in a school or college – and any work experience you can gain in this environment will certainly help your suitability for a Higher Education Lecturer role further down the line.
The following skills and attributes all count towards making you a viable and relevant candidate for this type of role:
A passion and interest in the subject that you both teach and also have responsibility for researching
An intellectual ability and the ability to form original opinions, arguments and thought
Strong analytical and communication abilities and teaching skills
Good teaching experience
Excellent oral, listening and written skills
Good time management skills and the ability to manage a diary and forward plan
Good general admin, report writing and IT skills
Still fancy a career as a Higher Education Lecturer? Good luck!! We hope these basic tips help you along the way, but if you reckon its not quite the career for you then take a look in our career directory for plenty of other options.