Professor vs. Teacher

College professors train for many years before teaching in a classroom setting.

College professors train for many years before teaching in a classroom setting.

Professors and teachers are both educators equipped to make a difference in their students' lives. While teachers are employed in a variety of settings, from public schools to private schools and even private homes, professors normally teach in community colleges, four-year colleges, universities and graduate schools. While teachers and professors are both educators, their training and lived experiences are quite different.


Professors are normally required to earn terminal degrees in their field, sometimes taking 10 years or more to complete a degree. Other than education professors, professional training usually excludes instruction in pedagogy and focuses on mastery of a particular field, conducting research or publishing scholarly work. Teachers attend varying amounts of school. Private music teachers and tutors need little more than mastery of their field, unless hired in a public school system. Preschool teachers normally get a two-year degree from a community college, while public school teachers earn a bachelor's degree, along with student teaching experience to become familiar with pedagogy.


Professors enjoy flexible work schedules, with most summers off, breaks in the winter and for holidays. Day-to-day schedules are flexible, with assigned lecture hours, flexible student hours, and grading and planning work from home.Teachers also enjoy lengthy summer breaks, but less flexibility with day-to-day scheduling. Most teachers must remain in the building during school hours, and many teachers also bring grading work home. Private tutors and music teachers enjoy flexibility in scheduling, but not the same lengthy summer and winter breaks as other teachers. Most work is conducted in the evening or on weekends around student schedules.

Benefits and Job Security

Due to university budgetary issues, many professors work as adjunct faculty instead of tenured faculty, making full-time positions and benefits scarce. To achieve tenure, a professor must demonstrate excellent teaching skills for several years, along with innovation and contribution to her field.Teachers also achieve tenure and excellent job security, but even before tenure, they have access to good health insurance and retirement benefits. Their contracts are renewed each year until they reach tenure status. Private tutors and music teachers are usually self-employed and purchase private insurance. Job security relies on their ability to find and secure enough clients to earn a living.


Professors advance their careers by securing coveted tenured teaching positions. Tenured faculty sometimes advance to department chair, dean or university president. They are required to stay active in their field of study, sometimes resulting in publishing books that bring royalties, as well as paid speaking engagements.Teachers advance through tenure, or by becoming administrators, like vice principals, principals and district superintendents. Some also move between districts, accepting positions in highly regarded districts after working in more challenging schools for a few years to gain experience. Private tutors and music teachers have limited opportunities for advancement, since they are self-employed. One avenue for advancement involves opening a music lesson or tutoring business and managing other teachers.


About the Author

Anne Kinsey has been a writer for 10 years, with her writing published in print newsletters, as well as websites including eHow and LIVESTRONG. She is also a minister and violinist holding a B.A. in religion and African American studies, and a M.Div. in pastoral counseling.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images