Have you considered an academic career?
Posted: Jan 20, 2021
Academia is a discipline that is concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship. Academics are people who work in this field which could be as a teacher or researcher, generally at a university or other institute of higher education. Academics typically study and analyse the area of their specialisation before they share their findings through teaching, publishing, and taking part in conferences.
Pursuing a career as an academic often begins with a shorter term or a casual position as a tutor. It is often only those who are a standout performer as a student that can secure these types of position. Typically, this involves having a strong relationship with faculty and successful admission to an honours program. After this it becomes an issue of continuing to distinguish yourself with showing excellence in both teaching and research. When new academic opportunities arise, they need to be pursued. A concerted effort to publish papers in prestigious journals or take up extracurricular activities to pad out the curriculum vitae is essential for getting the opportunities. Another pathway to become academic is by a master’s program or a PhD. The criteria for most advertised academic positions these days require the candidates have a PhD. Also having an impressive professional or industry experience is also looked upon favourably as a criterion.
Academics will generally divide their time between the three main tasks of teaching, research, and community involvement. Teaching responsibilities will typically depend on the seniority of your position. For example, associate lecturers and lecturers typically spend more time teaching than senior lecturers and professors. Teaching is so much more than just giving a lecture. Academics need to prepare classes and tutorials, administer tests and exams, mark essays, and provide students with academic support, guidance and counseling. Additionally, the more senior the position the more time that is taken up with meetings that set academic and institutional policies, review the curriculum and teaching methods and consider as well as implement new academic and teaching initiatives. The research involvement of an academic is contributing new knowledge to the discipline, as well as using the knowledge to inform their teaching. Academics are also expected to be involved in the community with their peers such as serving on committees of their professional organization.
The University sector is usually perceived as having good stability and working conditions. Academia may not be as financially rewarding compared to working at the coalface in many industries, but it does offer a more balanced lifestyle compared to other positions in those industries. A professorship is widely considered as the pinnacle of an academic career. Getting appointed as a tenured professor usually means that the academic has excelled at making significant contributions to their discipline and has achieved recognition locally and internationally for the research and contribution to the discipline.
During a recent episode of the podiatry related livestream, PodChatLive, the two hosts chatted with the podiatry academic, Emma Cowley about academic life, the changes that are happening in academic and the options to pursue a career in a University.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.