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You'll need lots of education first, and you need to be passionate about your job and subject of study

This story is part of the Globe Careers’ series looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries. For more, see our Salaries Series.

Job: University Teacher

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There are different levels of university teachers, starting with lecturers, who across Canada are paid an average of more than $86,600 a year, according to the Canadian Association of University Teachers almanac.
A full professor earns more than $138,000.

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In most cases university teachers require a PhD, or at the least a Master’s degree.
That includes four years of undergraduate study which costs about $7,000 year for tuition, depending on the courses chosen. Add to that at least a couple more years of graduate school.

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Many graduate students also receive grants to help pay for their tuition.
Still, the costs don’t include housing and other living expenses.

“It’s not uncommon for people graduating with a PhD to have between $50,000 and $100,000 in debt,” said David Robinson, CAUT’s associate executive director.

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By the numbers:
The number of professors in Canada increased 22 per cent between 2001 and 2011, or about 2.2 per cent each year, according to the CAUT.
The number of teachers under age 40 grew to 21.3 per cent in 2009, compared to 17.3 per cent in 2001.
In 2011, 2,034 new full-time university teachers were appointed in Canada. Of these, 44.2 per cent were female.

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The job:
The job is a mix of teaching, research and administration.
Mr. Robinson said about 40 per cent is teaching, 40 per cent research and 20 per cent serving on university committees that deal with areas such as admissions, tenure, promotions, and program approvals.

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“Publish or perish” is the common refrain in the post-secondary world and it’s not far off.
There is pressure in most disciplines to publish research to help build credentials and bring in funding to the university.

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The job also means dealing with students who are either lazy, or think they know everything.
Funding is also shrinking at post-secondary schools across Canada, and classroom sizes are increasing – which means juggling more students.

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Why they do it:
University teachers are passionate about a particular subject or area of study, and want to help students learn more about it, while at the same time deepening their own knowledge.
The job also means time off every few years to pursue research, which can mean travelling to Europe or other interesting places.

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The most common misconception is that university teachers get the summer off.
Mr. Robinson said they get time off like most professionals, but that summer often includes research work and supervising graduate students.

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you a university teacher or professor in Canada?

Write a note in the comments area and tell us what you like or dislike about your profession, or e-mail your comment to

Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Click here.

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