What kind of faculty job do you want?


Faculty jobs involve teaching, research, and mentoring. Different kinds of universities expect faculty to conduct these activities in different proportions. What is your ideal balance? Consider the figure to find out where you belong.


Figure by T McGlynn

For the uninitiated, SLAC indicates “Small Liberal Arts College.”

This figure implies a lot of mechanisms that differentiate institutions, and there are a bunch of reasons why the distribution for a regional comprehensive (where I work currently) fills in the gaps that other institutions don’t occupy.

17 thoughts on “What kind of faculty job do you want?

  1. This is a helpful figure. The deeper question here is as grad students and postdocs – how much should we specialize to land in one of the areas or can our training be broad enough to do well in any of them? With the exception of Neverland, I think I could be happy almost anywhere on this triangle – especially if it was a stable position in a location that works well for me and my family. A number of grad students/postdocs I talk to feel the same way.

    • To get the the position to land a job (aside from the community college), you’ll have to focus on research as the primary endeavor in grad school, just to have the CV to be competitive. Then, doses of teaching and mentorship throughout grad school would be good. Having undergrads working on projects with you in grad school is really important preparation, not to mention critical when applying for many jobs. And at many teaching institutions, having taught your own course at some point, in addition to TAing, is a big plus. But, with a lot of teaching and mentorship, on-the-job-training is standard, if not ideal.

  2. Love that. And if you find you want a job in Neverland, there is a very real place for that (although perhaps not many available jobs—I just know the positions exist): being the academic advisor for a department/school.

  3. Nice little diagram.

    Any idea regarding why it’s the way it is?

    I’m personally interested in being 50:50 Research-Teaching in the future or some balance from 50:50 to 33:33:33 Research-Teaching-SciCom.

    • Many ideas. A bunch are explicitly or tacitly found in many posts in archives.

      Sounds like you should be at a well-endowed SLAC or a state school like mine. As long as you are able to get grants, you should be able to do research.

      Good luck with science communication and a faculty position. One colleague of mine at a research institution got ‘science writing’ built in as a part of scholarship expectations for the job. That’s rare, and he was already quite well established as a science writer well before he got the job offer. (My university doesn’t give a hoot about my blogging, I don’t think.)

      • There’s also someone at Brookes on a Research/Public Engagement position which is pretty cool!

        I imagine in reality it’ll be more a case of 60:40 research-teaching with Scicom/Public Engagement in “spare” time.

  4. Thank you, great inspiring blog, i’m so looking forward to start reading and discovering what you write on here.. :)

You can leave a comment anonymously, just don't give your name or email.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s