Lecturers usually need the same qualifications as university professors, but they don't have to produce original research and aren't on track for tenure. Lecturers are typically hired to teach undergraduate introductory courses or when budget is a concern -- they usually earn far less than tenured professors. To become a lecturer, you need to start teaching part time and then move on to become a full-time or even tenured professor.
You will need a doctoral degree to work as a lecturer at four-year colleges and universities, though specialties such as fine arts may only require a master's. A doctoral degree, made up of master's and Ph.D., requires that you complete a bachelor's program and takes a few years. You must choose a specialization and write a dissertation that includes original research in your field. To work at a technical or career school or a two-year college, you may only need a master's. For career and technical education courses you might just need the degree you are teaching.
To become a lecturer you don't necessarily need work experience, though health specialties or the arts usually require it. If your field is a science such as biology, you will work for two to three years as a research associate before teaching. If you get your master's or Ph.D. you will likely work as a graduate teaching assistant as part of your education. Becoming an adjunct professor requires that you simultaneously teach and work in your given sector. To lecture at technical or trade schools, your work experience is of primary importance.
To become a lecturer who prepares students for a job that requires registration, certification or licensing, you will likely have to have that same credential. For example, nursing teachers will probably need a nursing license. Some postsecondary teachers may need a teaching license, which is also called teacher certification.
Skills and Personal Qualities
You will need good communication skills to become an in-demand lecturer. Public speaking ability is central to the job, but you may also need to serve on committees and publish papers that outline your original research. Critical thinking skills are required to do that research and to confront existing beliefs and theories and perform experiments. You will also need writing skills to properly communicate your findings. Resourcefulness is also a prized quality in lecturers; you will need to design lectures that students can understand and adapt to different levels of experience and learning styles.
Types of Lecturers
Lecturers differ in terms of their aspirations and level of commitment. Some teach full time with the aim of becoming tenured professors, while others may still be graduate students who are pursing their degrees. Part-time lecturers may be primarily focused on a professional career outside of academia or they may be freelancers who want to work full time, but in the meantime have part-time work to supplement their income. You can choose your path as a lecturer based on your career goals and aspirations.
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.