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How Much Does a Lecturer Earn?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Obtaining a doctorate's or master's degree can be advantageous to become a college lecturer and capitalize on a growing job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of 15 percent in the number of new jobs in this field during that period. Pay for post-secondary teachers tends to vary by the rank of the professor. Lecturers are toward the lower end of the pay scale and typically differ from professors in that their primary job function involves teaching rather than research.

Pay by Rank

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college lecturers rank just above college instructors on the academic pay scale. The average lecturer earns approximately $52,436 per year, as of the 2008-2009 academic school year. College instructors, by comparison, made $45,977. Above the lecturer and instructor are the assistant, associate and full professors who are typically paid substantially more, but also have additional workloads in terms of required research output.

Pay by Discipline

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does provide some indication of the average pay for college and university lecturers and other professors, it only provides a partial picture of the expected salary because it does not delineate the earnings made in different fields among those carrying the title of lecturer. Instead, it lumps lecturers together with instructors and professors when breaking down salaries by discipline. Nonetheless, lecturers who teach in fields such as law, business, engineering or one of the medical professions are likely to make more than those who teach in various liberal arts fields like the humanities and social sciences. This is largely true because careers outside of academia in these same fields have very high earning potential.


Whether lecturers teach at private or public institutions also has some bearing upon the amount of pay they make. According to the BLS, the average salary for all professors, instructors and lecturers was at private independent institutions was $92,257 in 2008-2009. This is $15,248 more than what was made by those working in public institutions. Private religious institutions tended to pay an average of $71,857 per year. A perusal of the website indicates that lecturers at private schools earned substantially more than those at public institutions. For example, lecturers at Butler University made $88,000 per year and those at Cornell made $73,000, while those teaching at schools like the University of Oklahoma were paid salaries ranging from $37,000 to $48,000 per year.

Determination of Pay

Pay for college academicians is not only determined by the institution and position which they hold, but also by the responsibilities that come with each type of position and the amount of funding a school has. State universities typically depend upon money from the state for annual budgets and typically allot pay based on a set pay schedule, whereas private institutions often have larger endowments that allow them to reach a little more deeply into their pockets to bring top scholars in various fields to their institutions.