How Do Professors Get Paid?

How Do Professors Get Paid

Professors hold an esteemed position in academia and are highly respected for their expertise in their fields of specialty.

They’re also paid higher than other instructors at the pre-tertiary levels and do not have a lot of classroom management responsibilities, since they deal with adult students.

That said, various factors influence the compensations that professors receive. This article will focus on providing insight into some of these factors and how they generally get paid.

Factors That Determine Professor Salaries

The amount of money professors receive depends on various factors. Let’s take a look at the most basic factors:

Field Of Study

Not all fields are considered equal, in this case. Professors in fields like medicine, law, technology, engineering, and other highly demanded STEM fields are paid higher than those in fields with less demand.

Level Of Education

Another factor that can influence professors’ salaries is their level of education. Professors who have earned higher education qualifications such as Ph.D. or professional degrees can earn more than their peers.

Amount Of Experience

The level of experience plays a key role in determining professors’ compensation. Professors who are just starting out, may earn lesser than their more experienced peers.

Candidate Shortage

Professors in fields with instructor shortages and those in professional degree programs, like business, engineering, law, medicine, computer science, and data science, may earn more than those in traditional arts and science disciplines.

School Budget

Schools work within a budget and allocate a specific amount to pay their staff. Those with larger budgets would be able to offer higher salaries to their professors while schools with smaller budgets may be more conservative with their salary offers.

Type Of Institution

A simple rule of thumb for salary is that it’s related to the highest degree the institution grants.

Doctoral institutions tend to pay their professors more than master’s-level institutions, which typically pay more than baccalaureate institutions, and community colleges typically pay less than all three.

That said, this isn’t always the case, as the prestige of the school can affect the amount of salary their professors receive.

A typical example is that some top liberal arts colleges that only offer 4-year degrees may pay higher salaries than many master-level institutions as well as some doctoral-level institutions.

Additionally, some private institutions may be able to offer higher salaries than public institutions. In some cases, professors in private institutions earn twice as much as their peers working in public institutions.


Professors in areas with a high cost of living may earn higher than those teaching in areas with a lower cost of living.

Candidate Desirability/External Funding

Depending on how badly the school wants the professor, they may be willing to increase their salary offer.

That said, the professor’s desirability would depend on their amount of research, and the likelihood that they would be successful at raising external grant funds.

Such professors can negotiate higher salaries or even receive additional compensation.


While this may not apply in every institution, professors can negotiate higher salaries than the original offered amount in some institutions.

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Types Of Compensation Professors Receive

The factors above mostly influence the basic salary of professors. But like most other professions, professors receive other forms of compensation to supplement their base salary.

Base Salary

A professor’s base salary can be based on their level of education and experience, the field of study, the type of institution, the school budget, their desirability, and various other factors.


Like most other professions, professors receive bonuses, in addition to their base salary.

They might be awarded bonuses for fulfilling specific teaching or research objectives, obtaining outside funding for their institution, or even reaching high levels of student satisfaction.

Research Funding

While professors receive grants for research and various other purposes, they cannot directly increase their salaries with these grants.

Traditionally faculty are on 9 or 10-month contracts and are technically not paid for the summer months. Receiving external grants would enable professors to get paid during these months.

It’s worth noting that, some countries have a fixed percentage of grants that can go directly toward supplementing a professor’s salary.

How Do Professors Get Paid

Generally, professors’ salaries depend on various factors including their level of education and experience, their field of study, their desirability, and more.

Professors’ salaries come from research grants, other external sources (foundations and private donors), and their school budget which is funded by tuition fees, endowments, and the government.

How Often Do College Professors Get Paid

Most professors in the United States, are paid on a 9-month. They’re paid over the course of 9 months but aren’t paid during the 3 months of summer.

Professors in many institutions have the option to either take a 9-month salary or 12 months. Those who choose 9-month salaries are paid their full monthly salaries but receive no payment over the 3 months of summer.

This form of contract is typical in many public schools where the budget is tied to the academic calendar. Depending on the grants and funding they secure, they may be paid no high than their monthly salaries during the summer.

That said, federal law prohibits schools from paying faculty members on a grant at a higher rate than they are paid at other times of the year.

They’re also prohibited from using multiple sources of funding, including grants from other agencies, to pay faculty members at more than 100% of their usual pay rate.

In cases where professors are paid over 12 months, the 9-month payment is disbursed over 12 months instead of 9 months.

So, a professor who would ordinarily receive 120k for the duration of 9 months, would end up receiving the same amount over the duration of 12 months.

This means they would end up receiving 10k monthly for 12 months as opposed to receiving 13.3k per month for 9 months.

Do Professors Get Paid Differently

There’re various factors that influence the amount of money professors receive. The exact amount a professor receives is based on their level of education and experience, positions, field of study, and various other factors.

Professors who specialize in in-demand courses may end up making more than others with significantly more experience in their fields.

Additionally, professors in Ivy League institutions may receive higher salaries than their peers in less prestigious institutions. Location and various other factors could also influence the amount a professor could receive.

How Do Professors Make Money

While it’s true that professors make more than teachers, they still leverage various approaches to earn additional income.

Some professors earn extra income by teaching during the summer. They also make money from writing books, consulting, grants, speaking engagements at conferences, taking additional administrative duties, and serving on various boards.

Let’s breakdown a few of these:


Professors may serve as consultants for for-profit businesses, governmental entities, or nonprofit groups. They might give their knowledge in fields like commerce, engineering, or public administration.

Writing and publishing

They may also make additional revenue from writing and publishing books, articles, and papers and giving talks and speeches.

Extra Teaching

With the advancements in technology, it’s become easy for people to enter the online learning space.

This includes professors who may leverage their summers to create and sell online courses for passive income or embark on other in-person teaching activities.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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