Chemistry Professor

Teaching allows you to share your passion for chemistry with others. Many educators say the most satisfying aspect of their work is helping to shape the lives and minds of students. It is important to feel enthusiastic about the subject, to be truly interested in students and their development, and to be able to make abstract principles come alive. Professors must be interested in expanding their own knowledge and working with students on research projects.

Professors at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUI)

PUI chemistry professors teach advanced concepts in the field of chemistry to both science and non-science majors. Many professors enjoy the challenge of research and may have an interest in publishing their findings.
On an average day, chemistry professors give lectures, conduct discussions, and guide students in labs. Professors are responsible for class preparation, developing and grading tests, and working with students outside of class. Professors at four-year colleges and universities also spend time keeping up with professional literature and new developments in the field and attend professional conferences. At PUIs, chemistry professors conduct and publish scientific research, and a main focus is teaching students how to conduct research properly.

Chemistry Professors at Research Institutions

Professors at research universities spend more time with graduate students engaged in basic or applied research. Their work involves helping students grow their own knowledge, sharing expertise, and advancing the field of chemistry and knowledge in general through research.


Research Institutions

On an average day, being a chemistry professor at a graduate research institution includes teaching responsibilities for undergraduate and graduate level courses and seminars, as well as research activities involving both independent work and work with graduate students.

Specifically for professors at graduate and research universities, the focus is on new developments in the field, publishing papers regularly, sometimes writing textbooks, and mentoring Ph.D. candidates. At nearly all universities, faculty members also dedicate time to apply for funding to support their research.

Graduate and research universities—master’s and Ph.D. granting institutions—offer a highly focused environment catering to students serious about research. Professors mentor Ph.D. candidates and spend time helping them complete the steps involved in achieving a doctorate degree. Research universities often have high-quality
equipment and can offer students and teachers excellent lab experience.

Technical Skills

  • In-depth knowledge of chemistry and chemical concepts, with particular expertise in a specific field.
  • Instructional skills, including the ability to explain difficult concepts and the ability to engage students in learning.
  • Patience when working with students of different abilities and backgrounds.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills when dealing with students in class and in your laboratory, with other faculty members, and with college or university administration.
  • Independence, initiative, innovation, and leadership to conceive and conduct original research.
  • Technical writing skills for grant proposals, reports, papers, and other documents.

Career Path

Professors at PUIs generally start as an assistant professor and after six years of successful employment are considered for tenure. They tend to remain at the same institution, where they have established a laboratory and a strong rapport with students and other members of the faculty.

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