Among the tenured ranks of academia, associate professors are above assistant professors but below full professors. It normally takes about seven years to reach tenure, which prevents firing of teachers without just cause. As with all post-secondary teachers, associate professors create lesson plans, instruct students, assign homework and grade performance. Their salaries vary by university and subject.
Associate professors earned a median $74,473 per year according to the 2013 salary survey compiled by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Compare this to the median annual $95,224 full professors receive and the $64,414 assistant professors earned. Associate professors earned their highest wages at research universities, at a median $85,135 per year. Other median annual wages depended on the highest degree level at the university. They were $76,868 at doctoral granting institutions, $70,716 at master’s granting universities and $66,107 at bachelor’s granting colleges.
The school with the highest pay for associate professors was Stanford University in Stanford, California. It offered an average annual $131,200, according to the 2012 faculty salary survey compiled by the "Chronicle of Higher Education." Also in the Golden State was the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. It offered the fifth highest annual pay at $121,300. Other high-paying institutions for associate professors were in the Northeast, such as Babson College in Massachusetts, averaging $125,600; Columbia University in New York at a mean $125,000; and Princeton University in New Jersey, averaging $123,700. The lowest pay for associate professors was at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, at a mean $38,100 yearly. Lackawanna College followed, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, averaging an annual $40,000.
Associate professors need at least a Ph.D., which takes about six years of full-time study to complete beyond a bachelor’s degree. They reach their academic ranks only after spending several years as assistant professors. The type of subject they decide to teach can affect compensation. According to the College and University Professional Association, the highest wages belonged to law professors at a median $106,016 per year. The students in this discipline eventually earned some of the highest averages in the country. The second highest-paying field was business, management and marketing at a median $100,066 yearly. The lowest-paying field was English language and literature at a median annual $64,009.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for all post-secondary teachers, including associate professors, will grow by 17 percent through 2020. This is slightly more than the 14 percent expected for all occupations in all industries. Behind the demand is a growing population that will produce more college students. For-profit institutions will show the greatest gains. In public institutions, employment will depend on state and local government budgets.
- College and University Professional Association for Human Resources: 2013 Faculty in Higher Education (Four-Year Institutions) Salary Survey
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: 2012 Faculty Salary Survey
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Post-Secondary Teacher
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook for Post-Secondary Teachers
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