This article contains the requirements and guidelines on how to become a lecturer in South Africa in 2023.
A lecturer or instructor which is often used interchangeably refers to anyone who teaches full-time or part-time in universities or higher education institutions. Those in this position are called lecturers rather than teachers because they give lectures to larger groups than classrooms and may prepare seminars. Lecturers can eventually become professors by having many years of experience and earning their PhD.
Years back, it was easier to be become a lecturer because there was little or no competition. Expressing eagerness to teach and having a contact at the the University you desired to lecture in was enough to get in.
In these competitive times, you have to be as professional about your career path towards a lectureship. You need to have all the minimum qualifications that your contemporaries have. If you want to follow the path trodden by most academics, then there’s no question you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.
To become a lecturer, there are several university lecturer qualifications you need to obtain. With that in mind, this article contains information on how to become a lecturer in South Africa. Therefore, if you desire to become a lecturer or have a person who would love to, do not stop reading.
Below are requirements to becoming a lecturer
A. QUALIFICATIONS AND EDUCATION
1. Bachelor’s Degree
If you have the intention to work in a higher education institution, you should study a relevant subject for your bachelor’s degree. At this stage, you can major in a more broad topic like Education or even a general subject.
Choose the academic field you want to work in. It takes a long time to accumulate the education and experience necessary to become a university lecturer. Choose a field that you would be comfortable and happy to work with for most years of your career. You will probably find more success in the long run by choosing a field you enjoy rather than one that you feel will earn you the most money.
So, your success as a lecturer starts from your choice of your Bachelors degree program.
2. Post Graduate Degrees
Having a Bachelor’s degree is not enough to land you a lecturing job. To become an expert in the field, you will continue your education and will need to earn at least your master’s degree in Education or the subject you want to teach. But the learning won’t stop there. To be hired by a university, you will likely need a PhD as well.
Earn a PhD to maximize your chances of becoming a lecturer. Although there are exceptions, most universities require their lecturers to have earned a Doctoral degree in their field of study. Having a PhD proves your expertise in a subject matter. Thus, strive to acquire a PhD if you want to be secure in your job. You need a good bachelor’s degree of course before you can apply for a good Masters. A score of 2.1 and up in your Bachelor’s is considered good. Also, when going into a PhD program, be prepared to be in it for the long ride. Though some PhD programs can be completed in 3 years, many others take up to 7 years.
B. PUBLICATION AND INTERNSHIPS
During your post-graduate degrees, it’s very important to perform research and try to get published.
Conduct independent research and have it published. Demonstrating a research profile, both through publishing research and articulating compelling plans for future work, is often key to getting a job as a lecturer. Research extensively during your PhD program and publish your findings in a reputable academic journal.
Aim to publish your findings in the most reputable journal in your field.
Many PhD students also publish papers almost as soon as their PhD is over. This is a surefire way of getting your research out there, and of increasing your chances of landing a full-time lecturing job.
Your three to four year PhD will provide the bulk of your research experience, so you must make the most of it. Even if your position is research-based, you need to be able to communicate your ideas to students and colleagues at conferences and workshops. It is equally important to try your hand at internships and apprenticeships to learn from lecturers.
How do you pick up teaching or research experience?
During your Masters and PhD, you may come across opportunities or you look for them. You can get involved in some departmental teaching in the form of tutorials or seminars because the teaching experience you gain will be invaluable for your carrer in the future.
You may also have to mark exam scripts and essays, which will all add valuable experience in preparation for the permanent lectureship.
C. APPLY FOR A JOB AS A LECTURER
After you’ve completed your education and have a PhD, you can start looking for open positions. There are academic job listings for this. You can also get in touch with your institution of choice to ask if there are positions available.
During the application process, you’ll want to create tailored cover letters. You also want to set up your resume in a professional manner. When you write your cover letter, try to include specific information that delicts what the institution believes in to showcase why you’re the right fit. Additionally, in your personal statement, it’s useful to include your teaching approach.
As with any job, the hiring manager could request references. Have this ready to go with a list of references from internships or apprenticeships.
D. BE PREPARED FOR A WAIT
When you’re done with your PhD, you’ll be ready to hit the job market. But you may find that there’s nothing available. You may have to teach part-time to make ends meet or pay off your student loans. You could take on hourly jobs or temporary contracts. All such jobs will add to your experience, so make sure to include these on your CV. Work with dedication and positivity so you don’t end up depressed.
While you wait, use your network to your advantage. You may have built a strong network with university colleagues and your PhD supervisor. They should be able to point you towards any jobs that they come across. Jobs in academia are still often made available through word of mouth.
After acquiring the necessary qualification, while applying for jobs, prepare your mind to wait but productively. In other words, while waiting for your dream job, gather all necessary teaching experience. Take advantage of opportunities to acquire teaching experience. Because teaching is such a central aspect of the job of a university lecturers, teaching skills are highly valued among job applicants. Seize opportunities to gain teaching experience when they emerge and use the experience to add to your resume.
These are basically how to become a lecturer. Though, this information can not be complete without expatiating more on what lecturing entails.
To be a successful lecturer, there are basic and important skills required. They include;
- Communication Skills: As a lecturer or one who intends to become a lecturer, it is important for you to have good communication skills. Both written and verbal communication skills will be important.
- Patience: Also, working in any educational environment requires patience and understanding. You will come into contact with students at varying levels of ability, so you will want to be able to provide them with what they need to best learn.
- Passion: Those who care and are genuinely interested in what they teach show their love for a subject in how they talk about it. This can increase engagement and promote respect on behalf of students.
Responsibilities Of A Lecturer
Lecturers may work alongside other staff members, but the typical responsibilities of a lecturer include:
- Developing teaching materials and preparing for sessions
- Delivering lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations and fieldwork
- checking and assessing students’ work
- Acting as a personal tutor to a number of students
- Supervising student’s research
- Taking part in staff training and continuous professional development
- Attending and contributing to professional conferences and seminars
- Carrying out administrative tasks such as student admissions
- Writing research proposals, papers and other publications
- Managing research budgets.
- Prepare and grade exams and written work.
There are varying levels of the profession. While you work towards your own educational goals, you can start lecturing as an entry-level lecturer. Here’s a look at the progression:
- Entry-level: You have your master’s and can start teaching, but may still be pursuing your PhD.
- Lecturer: Your PhD is complete and your class sizes may increase.
- Senior Lecturer: Your responsibilities grow with your experience. You may even assess students who are not your own and give lectures at other universities.
- Professor: After earning your PhD and becoming a university lecturer, you can work towards becoming a professor. With many years of experience, professors produce research and publish findings in their field. They also have tenure, meaning they have earned a permanent position as part of faculty.
Advantages & Disadvantage of Being a Lecturer
Before deciding if this career is the right path for you, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of becoming a lecturer.
- Research: As a lecturer, the institution may provide you with resources to perform research.
- Job Satisfaction: Most people who become lecturers have a passion for the subject they teach. As a lecturer, you have the opportunity to challenge ideas and debate theories.
- Making a Difference: Lecturers are in the perfect place to serve as mentors and inspire students. You will know that you are making a difference in the lives of many.
- Flexibility: Lecturing job has a lot of flexibility. Whether a sabbatical is taken or not, university lecturers can balance work and life through their teaching schedule.
- Travel: This is especially true of experienced lecturers, but all lecturers may have the opportunity to travel abroad to give a lecture at other universities and at conferences.
On the other hand, there are some downsides to considering a career as a university lecturer.
- Competition: In recent times, lecturing has become a highly competitive field, so finding a job isn’t always easy, even with the qualifications.
- Working Hours: Despite the flexibility of the schedule, lecturers often work weekends and during the evenings.
- Wage: Lecturers can make a decent living, but it’s not always commensurate with the effort and time they dedicate to the job. Many are banking on the saying that the reward of educators is in Heaven
Choosing to pursue a degree in Education and a career as a lecturer is highly subjective. But, if it is right for you, you have the opportunity for a highly rewarding career. Lecturers have the freedom to pursue their own research. At the same time, they become experts in their field and share their knowledge with students.
If you feel that becoming a lecturer is a path you would like to pursue, consider beginning with an online and tuition-free program to earn your Master’s of Education from the University of the People.
Also, you should note that all the full-time jobs would most likely go to candidates with Masters degrees. You can narrow down your competition to a great extent by getting a PhD in your chosen field. If you publish a few papers in peer-reviewed journals, also an advantage that gives you an age over others.
You could potentially teach with a Masters’ degree in some state and community colleges but a PhD will definitely make your life easier. And while you’re doing your PhD, you should be working on how to make the most of your time in order to develop your hire ability.
If you can make it in academia, you’ll find yourself in a prestigious field with huge competition. However strong the competition may be, stay positive, always keep your goals in sight. You’ll get the chance to spend more time on your career with attractive pay and opportunities to travel the world to other universities, and the respect that academicians garner. Lectureship positions can be in high demand. So be prepared.
By gaining the right educational qualifications, experience and submitting a strong application, you too can become a university lecturer.
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