Higher Education Lecturer

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Are you an expert in your field who wants to continue developing and sharing their knowledge? Do you have a talent for research and want to explore your chosen expertise more? If you see yourself in an influential role while also teaching others what you know, then a career as a higher education lecturer may be for you.

Interested in a career as a higher education lecturer? Explore graduate opportunities in education and teaching and take your first step towards a career in this role.

What does a higher education lecturer do?

In your role as a higher education lecturer, you will be the centre of expertise when it comes to your chosen subject. You will be responsible for planning and leading lectures for your students, pursuing your own research activities for your department and publishing scholarly articles to raise the profile of your institution.

You can expect your day to day to involve:

  • Planning and leading lectures and seminars
  • Conducting and supervising research groups for your own research projects
  • Writing and being involved in peer-reviewed journals
  • Developing and creating teaching materials
  • Supporting student development and consulting where needed
  • Administrative tasks within the department
  • Create networking opportunities between other educational institutions and business

Higher education lecturer career path


You will begin your career as a higher education lecturer by being a graduate training assistant. In this role, you will be responsible for aiding the lecturer in enabling the smooth running of the course. You will often supervise or take ownership of lectures, taking on more and more responsibility as you continue to progress. The role of lecturer is an independent one, so you can expect to have an equal level of independence as a training assistant, given tasks and projects to be run how you see fit.

Career progression

Eventually, you will progress to becoming a higher education lecturer on your own merit. You would have been involved with many peer-reviewed papers, be an expert in your field and be willing to continue your own education by undertaking a variety of different tasks. This may include work exchanges abroad, leading or attending outside conferences and applying for grants for your institution.

Future career

The upper end of your career will see you taking on more managerial roles, as you progress to being a senior lecturer, professor or dean. You may also consider becoming a course director should you want to reduce the amount of student-facing time. This role would have you working in more of an office setting, planning and presenting modules and curriculums to your department.

Higher education lecturer salaries

  • Entry-level higher education lecturers can expect a starting wage of £33,500 to £50,000 per year
  • An experienced, senior lecturer can expect between £40,000 to £60,000 per annum
  • Depending on the amount of managerial responsibility taken on, a professorial-level lecturer can earn upwards of £100,000 per year

Qualifications and training

Higher education

In order to become a higher education lecturer, you will need a relevant degree in the subject you wish to teach. You need to be a master in your field so, for most placements, you will need to take your subject to a PhD level or an extraordinary level of experience.

There is now also the option of working towards a higher education teaching qualification to further support your expertise and better your teaching skill.

To aid your application, you should also consider taking the research during your PhD and publishing books or articles, aiding in the construction of a portfolio.

Work experience

During your PhD, you will have the opportunity to get some teaching experience as part of your degree. Much like becoming a teacher, you should look for a role as a graduate teaching assistant, helping with the running of lectures, administrative tasks and marking assignments. The world of higher education is a tight-knit one, so it is important to make important contacts who will keep you in the loop about upcoming vacancies. You can do this by engaging with other experts on your books/papers, creating links and making a name for yourself.

Higher education lecturer skills

  • Patience and adaptability. Topics that seem simple and obvious to you may be difficult for someone else. It’s important to adapt to different learning styles and expect to need to repeat the information in different ways until your student understands the material.
  • Communication. You will be working across a broad range of ages, from young students to their parents/guardians. It is important you have a confident communication style that is clear and adaptable to the audience you have.
  • Organisation. Organisation will be a key skill to have in your role as a higher education lecturer. You will be responsible for the management of all your student's individual progress, lesson plans and the marking of tests/work. Without a good level of organisation, you will soon get lost under all that paperwork.
  • Time management. The curriculum is often vast, with a lot to learn in each term. Time management will be crucial in ensuring you can navigate the whole curriculum as well as test that knowledge. Falling behind will disadvantage your students.
  • Creativity. Your role as a teacher will involve finding creative ways to engage your students and make them want to come to classes. Your enthusiasm should be infectious, with interesting and fun ways of learning new topics that will resonate with your class.
  • Conflict resolution. Behavioural management will be a large part of your role. Students will not always behave ideally and it will be your job to manage and discipline where needed in a fair and acceptable manner.

Pros and cons of being a higher education lecturer


  • Job satisfaction. Your role as a higher education lecturer is very important to the future of society! You are shaping the future of society and your influence will create core knowledge that will stay with your students for years to come.
  • Holidays. As a higher education lecturer, you will average about 30 days more holiday than the majority of other careers.
  • Autonomy. As a higher education lecturer, you have a lot of autonomy over your working day and how you choose to teach your material.


  • Limited progression. Unless you plan to sidestep into a more managerial role, progression as a higher education lecturer can be limited.
  • Work stress. It’s important to maintain a strong and patient mindset as a higher education lecturer as you may become invested in students’ progression and be disappointed if they don’t succeed.

Higher education lecturer work-life balance

You can expect to work a 35 hour week on weekdays in your role as a lecturer. However your responsibilities do not end here, so you can expect to work longer hours where needed to accommodate your research, lecture planning, events and open days. You can expect to be either full time or part-time, with the ability to take a sabbatical to focus on your research. Sabbaticals are usually a year-long and available to you after a set amount of years working.

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