Becoming a teacher or professor is a noble profession and an exceptional opportunity for shaping the future of our country. It comes with its own prestige and offers both financial incentives and job security. Unlike in many other careers, there are fixed vacations and the job is defined by fixed working hours.

A professor can teach at the graduate or postgraduate level. We will be talking in detail about the path to becoming a professor in this blog. First, let’s look at the eligibility criteria for becoming a professor in India.

Eligibility criteria for professorship

The candidate should have a master’s degree in the relevant subject and a good academic record.

Candidates seeking to apply for positions equivalent to assistant professors need to have a master’s degree and must have passed a qualified National Eligibility Test (NET) or equivalent test; else they need to have a Ph.D. in the relevant discipline.

Becoming a professor with Ph.D.

Assistant professors who wish to become professors need to have a Ph.D. degree in the relevant field and must have published high-quality work in various peer-reviewed publications. The criterion is to have 10 minimum publications in the form of books, research papers, or policy papers. Additionally, each aspiring professor must have 12-14 years of experience in teaching and research.

Besides academic and teaching experience, as per UGC guidelines, the candidate should have a prescribed Academic Performance Indicator (API), which is a score based on self-assessment and encompasses the following:

·         Teaching related activities

·         Domain knowledge

·         Participation in examination (Invigilation/ paper correction etc)

·         Contribution to innovation in teaching

·         Student feedback

Stages of promotion for the post of professor

Aspirants can start their careers as lecturers or demonstrators, or even directly as assistant professors, provided they have requisite qualifications.

In many cases, assistant professors are promoted to professors. While lecturers or demonstrators can apply for the post of assistant professor after acquiring requisite experience and by fulfilling the criteria laid down by UGC, i.e., a minimum of 10 publications to their name and the requisite Academic Performance Indicator (API) score.

At least, an assistant professor is promoted to the post of professor after having attained 12-14 years of experience in teaching or research experience and after having authored a minimum number of books or research papers.

Here is the career growth path that is generally seen:

Lecturer --> Assistant Professor --> Associate Professor --> Professor

Where to apply?

Vacancies for professors are available in government universities, autonomous universities, degree colleges, and research institutions (as guidance counselors for doctorate students). Some top Indian universities include Delhi University, Jawahar Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Indian Institute of Science, Calcutta University, Hyderabad University, and more.

Getting selected as an assistant professor

NET & SLET

The National Eligibility Test (NET) and State Eligibility Test (SLET) are two types of qualification examinations conducted by UGC and State governments, respectively. NET is conducted by UGC, and the candidate should have a master's degree with at least 55% marks from a recognized university. On obtaining credentials from NET, the candidate becomes eligible to apply for the post of assistant professor. On the other hand, candidates can apply for SLET and apply at universities that come under the aegis of the state government.

NET allows a candidate to apply to any college or university throughout India. SLET is restrictive, as it is only applicable within state-level colleges and universities. The shortlisting of candidates for assistant professorship happens per UGC requisites (include stipulated criteria and API score), which have been mentioned above.

GATE

The graduate aptitude test in engineering (GATE) is an all-India exam jointly conducted by IISC Bangalore and seven IITs of Roorkee, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai (Madras), and Mumbai (Bombay).

Candidates can pursue Ph.D. with a GATE score, and after having authored their Ph.D. thesis they can directly apply for professor/lecturer posts in IITs or NITs.

CSIR NET

This is a national exam conducted by the National Testing Agency. The exam comprises only science subjects, which include life sciences, chemical sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, and earth sciences.

The exams are conducted to check the eligibility of candidates for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) or Lectureship.

Ph.D.

As per the latest Supreme Court Guidelines, candidates with Ph.D. degrees are exempted from NET & SLET. They can directly apply to various universities on the strength of their doctorate degree, provided they fulfill the following requirements:

·         A Ph.D. in regular mode

·         Ph.D. thesis evaluated by two external examiners

·         Appeared for viva-voice

·         Authored at least two papers on the Ph.D. thesis in a research journal

Salary structure of professor

The salary package of a professor is solely dependent on his experience, and on the location and reputation of the college. The minimum salary of a professor can go beyond 1 lakh per month, and this again depends on the experience the individual brings to the table.

Skills required in a professor

Although there are some criteria for applying for professorship, certain skills make the candidate a perfect match for professorship:

·         High enthusiasm for teaching

·         Good degree of interest in the relevant subject

·         High level of creativity to discover new ideas in teaching

·         Openness to continued learning

·         Communication proficiency both written and verbal

·         Good comprehension and research abilities

·         High degree of self-confidence and time-management skills

·         Problem-solving skills

Conclusion

Some consider it their calling and commit themselves wholeheartedly to this profession to rise to the stature of a professor. Not everybody grows to become a professor, but even starting your career as a lecturer or an assistant professor is certainly a great achievement.

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