College professors are the links to many successful careers, and most graduates can remember at least one who had a profound effect on their lives. They teach a wide variety of subjects, including math, history and finance, and intersperse both the theoretical and practical aspects of courses. Most college professor must have a Ph.D., but some colleges accept adjunct professors with master's degrees who later earn a Ph.D. Either way, expect to earn an above-average salary in this field.
Salary and Benefits
College professors earned average yearly salaries of $74,360 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. The top 10 percent can make more than $132,850 annually. As a full-time professor, you can usually expect typical benefits, including medical insurance, a retirement plan and paid time off. But you will also enjoy additional fringe benefits, such as flexible hours and summers off to travel or conduct research.
Salary by Industry
Your annual salary in post-secondary education can vary significantly by industry. Expect to earn the highest salary of $114,380 per year in the scientific research and development services industry, according to the BLS. You may also earn an income above the national average working at a junior college -- $78,040 a year. Local government agencies paid college professors $65,860 per year, while these educational professionals made only $58,010 per year at technical and trade schools.
Salary by State
College professors earned by far the highest yearly salary -- $122,980 -- in Massachusetts in 2011, according to the BLS. Massachusetts is home to many exceptional institutions, including Harvard, Dartmouth and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, which positively affects salaries in the state. You may also make an above-average salary in Arkansas and New York -- at about $92,000 per year. But expect to earn less in Illinois or Michigan, at $74,870 or $59,350 per year, respectively.
Jobs for post-secondary teachers, including college professors, are expected to increase 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. This is about average compared to the 14 percent growth rate for all careers. Job opportunities in this field are highly contingent on funding from local and state government agencies. Expect the fastest job growth among for-profit institutions, as enrollment has been growing faster at these colleges and universities.
2016 Salary Information for Postsecondary Teachers
Postsecondary teachers earned a median annual salary of $78,050 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, postsecondary teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $54,710, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $114,710, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,314,500 people were employed in the U.S. as postsecondary teachers.