Academic careers

Working in academia offers a variety  of options.
Working in academia offers a variety of options.

Pursuing an academic career

What kinds of positions are available in the Academy?

The most common position sought by those looking for an academic career is that of a professor. While that may seem simple, it is not widely understood that there are different types of academic positions, many requiring a PhD. In terms of professorship, in the United States and Canada there are full professors, associate professors and assistant professors; research professors and teaching professors; tenured and non-tenured positions.

What is tenure? 

Academic Tenure normally refers to a senior academic's contractual right not to have his or her position terminated without just cause. It is primarily implemented to guarantee a senior academic the right to academic freedom, protecting both university teachers and researchers when they dissent from prevailing opinion. The intent of tenure is to allow original ideas to be more likely to arise, by giving scholars the intellectual autonomy to investigate the problems and solutions about which they are most passionate, and to report their honest conclusions.

Tenure-track positions are non-tenured, junior ranking positions that are designed to permit individuals to achieve tenure within a given time frame.

You can find an overview of the various types of positions found in academia by using the links below.

Getting prepared

The Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LATHE) Graduate Certificate is a dynamic Certificate Program offered at UVic that focuses on the pedagogical knowledge and practical skills required to teach effectively in higher education LATHE combines knowledge and practice about teaching and learning across the disciplines to create a future professoriate fluent in the foundational principles of post-secondary instruction. Graduates of the LATHE program will be able to contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning in their own fields, thus preparing them to become life-long reflective and scholarly teachers.

  • Earn this graduate certifcate concurrently with UVic graduate degree
  • Be part of a program that is focused on your future. Enroll in the 16-month, part-time, 6.0-unit Graduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education.

Other resources

The Chronicle of Higher Education has articles (such as demystifying the hiring process) and job listings that can help you in your search for academic positions that are right for you. At University Affairs you can sign up for e-mail alerts about academic job postings and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has valuable information for current and aspiring academics.

Will I have to conduct research?

Another one of the responsibilities of academics is conducting research. Research is the foundation for nearly all graduate programs and you have spent a lot of time and energy focussed on your chosen area of research, becoming an expert in it by the time you graduate. Normally as a tenured or tenure track professor you will have research responsibilities.

What about ethics?

If you are a graduate student, it is likely that you have at least thought about the subject of ethics. Students conducting research using human subjects are required to get Human Research Ethics approval prior to beginning their research. Students conducting research with animals must obtain Animal Care Ethics approval. Both forms can be found on the Forms & guidelines page at the Office of Research Services. If you are using research materials that require biosafety, radiation safety or hazardous materials or diving registration, you will need to consult the Occupational Health, Safety and Environment pages on the Office of Research Services webpage. You will need a netlink ID to access the forms.

For those wishing to pursue an academic career, you may also wish to explore the area of Professional Ethics. Aside from the fact that the field of “Ethics” in itself is immense, there is an Ethical Framework to which professors and other academics are expected to adhere.

Will I have to teach?

Among the many responsibilities of an academic, none is more quintessential than that of a classroom lecturer. Historically, one of the most common criticisms of university professors is that they often lack the ability to be effective teachers. It is quickly becoming essential that to be competitive as an academic, individuals need to become proficient at different types of instructional methods. The Learning and Teaching Centre at UVic can help develop your instructional skills, as well as introduce different methodologies.

How do I write academically?

Related to both teaching and researching responsibilities is the need for effective writing skills. This can be complex, because you will be required to write for a variety of audiences including students, other Professors and professionals, journals and more.

Some students have a passion and a flair for writing that positions them well for academic writing, some write narrative and prose well but struggle with academic writing, still others have difficulty writing effectively at all and international students are often faced with the task of writing academically in a foreign language.

The Writing Centre has services to help students improve and hone their writing skills, the English Language Centre (ESL) can help international students improve their writing in English.

Will I need a CV or résumé?

When to use a curriculum vitae (CV)

One of the first steps required when preparing to market yourself as an academic is to create a curriculum vitae or CV. In Canada and the United States, a CV is generally the format used to profile academic and medical careers. A CV provides more detail on education is expected to include a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. In certain professions, it may even include samples of the person's work and may run to many pages. By contrast, a résumé is far less inclusive.

When to use a Résumé

For professional positions outside of the academy, a résumé is often used instead of a CV. Most of us have written a résumé. Résumés are usually targeted to a specific employer or position and as such are often significantly shorter and more concise than CVs. It takes skill to write an effective résumé. Cooperative Education and Career Services has more information on writing a CV or résumé.

Often overlooked by job-seekers is the difference between a résumé and a CV.

Comparison table

Category Resume Curriculum Vitae
What is it? A targeted selection of your experience and skills for a specific position or employer. A complete list of your professional and educational background.
How long is it? Usually one page only for entry-level positions. Multiple pages may be appropriate for more advanced or research-oriented positions. May be many pages; length is not important.
When do you use it? Used for every other type of job outside of academia and research science. Used for academic positions and research positions in government and industry.
Do you include your publications? Even a partial list of publications is rarely included. A full list of publications is essential.
How important is style and layout? Style and content are both important. Bad style is a liability. Content is what matters most. As long as material is clearly presented, style doesn't matter that much.
Are references listed? References are not listed on a résumé. If requested, you may submit a separate list of relevant references. Typically references are listed at the end of the CV.

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