Difference Between a Teacher & Professor

Jan 02, 2019

Jobs of teachers and professors have similar educational elements, but there are differences. Teachers focus more on the overall well-being and progress of students, while professors also give career advice and perform original research for publication.

Comparing Teachers to Professors

Teachers and professors are both jobs in pedagogy. While teachers primarily focus on classroom instruction in high school and below, professors are educators mainly in colleges and universities, who often perform academic research. Below are some differences and similarities between teachers and professors.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Teacher Bachelor's Degree $58,030 (for high school teachers) 6% (for high school teachers)
Professor Doctorate $75,430 (for postsecondary teachers) 13% (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Teachers vs. Professors

Teachers work with students of all ages in primary, middle, and secondary schools. Professors are educators at postsecondary institutions. Teachers strive to help their students learn content as proficiently as possible. Professors are responsible for presenting content, but they also spend time researching. A large portion of a teacher's duty is to supervise students. Both teachers and professors are often involved in committees and staff meetings.


A teacher serves as an educator and supervisor for students. Some teachers work with the same group of learners for the entire day, while others teach different sets of students throughout the school day. Teachers constantly assess student knowledge and progress by asking questions while teaching and during assignments. Teachers have meetings with parents on a regular basis to inform them of the students' progress. They must use classroom management skills to control behavior. Most schools have teachers participate in committees, extra-curricular activities, and fulfill other responsibilities outside of the classroom, such as monitoring students at lunch.

Job responsibilities of a teacher include:

  • Teaching courses in their respective grades and/or subject areas
  • Planning lessons and assignments
  • Communicating with other grade-level or special education teachers
  • Preparing students for mandated, standardized testing
  • Attending educator enrichment presentations
  • Working with individual students


Professors work at postsecondary institutions, such as colleges and universities, and are usually responsible for teaching courses. They also conduct original research or experiments to get published in academic journals or as books. The aim of their research is to advance their respective field with new ideas and findings. Professors are often responsible for advising students, as well, and may have a set group of advisees to meet with about necessary courses and when to take them. Others supervise graduate students who are writing their theses and dissertations. Professors are also expected to read academic journals in their fields and sometimes criticize and validate the work of their peers.

Job responsibilities of a professor include:

  • Designing courses and curriculum
  • Developing a syllabus for each course taught
  • Planning meaningful lessons
  • Assessing students to give them grades in a course
  • Communicating with other professors in their department
  • Staying up-to-date on changes in their field

Related Careers

If you are interested in the job of a teacher, you might want to find out about becoming an instructional coordinator who designs curriculum. If you are interested in a career as a professor, you might enjoy being a museum curator to manage the acquisition of items and artifacts and work with the public.

Instructional Coordinator: Employment Info & Requirements

Become a Museum Curator: Step-by-Step Career Guide

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