Difference Between Lecturer & Professor

Two educational career paths to consider are that of lecturer and professor. Although they sound similar, there are differences between them, and you can read on to find out more.

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Comparing Lecturers to Professors

Lecturers and professors both teach college level students. However, while both a lecturer and a professor may teach in academic institutions, they have varying roles and qualifications. Read on to discover the key similarities and differences between the two educational careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Lecturer Masters or PhD $64,400 (Postsecondary teachers, all other) 9%-13% (Postsecondary teachers, all other)
Professor Masters or PhD $75,430 (Postsecondary teachers) 13% (Postsecondary teachers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Lecturers vs. Professors

Lecturers and professors work in similar settings, but their responsibilities and daily tasks differ. Both careers involve educating postsecondary students; however, a lecturer often has another career and is hired to teach a set course, while professors usually follow academic career paths toward earning tenure. Lecturers are often visiting staff at an academic institution who use their career experience to create a course syllabus and class structure, all while continuing in their primary career. On the other hand, professors teach within their scholarly specialty and conduct research toward being published in academic journals.


A lecturer teaches postsecondary students at the undergraduate and graduate levels in colleges and educational establishments. They will often have significant working experience within the subject that they teach, which gives them the knowledge and standing to be able to teach specific courses. Academic institutions will hire lecturers based on their career merit, meaning they may not need to be educated to the PhD level to teach. This is the case particularly with business lecturers, for example. Since they may teach part time while continuing on with their career, the working hours of a lecturer can vary by school and department.

Job responsibilities of a lecturer include:

  • Conduct classes, seminars and lectures as a part of the course they teach
  • Utilize career and working experience to educate students
  • Advise students on both an educational and professional level
  • Contribute to their department's development


Professors are full time academics who work within the faculty of colleges and universities to educate postsecondary level students within their field of academia at the undergraduate and graduate levels. They also conduct research into their chosen specialty with the aim of contributing to and furthering the field's development. From this, they often publish reports and results in a range of academic materials. Professors may teach part time while they complete their PhD. Newly qualified professors will be monitored for a set time and will then be reviewed by a committee and considered for tenure.

Job responsibilities of a professor include:

  • Teach a range of courses per semester related to their field of academia
  • Create the syllabus for that course, grade papers and review the progression of students
  • Advise both undergraduate and graduate students
  • Participate in administration and committees

Related Careers

If you are interested in becoming a lecturer, a career coaching job may also interest you, as both careers require drawing on experience to inform and encourage others. Those interested in a career path as a professor may like to consider a career as creative writer, due to the publishing element present in both job roles.

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