Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor(Which One is Better in 2023)

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

Being a professor means getting hired at different levels of the professorship. You can either become an assistant professor, associate professor, adjunct professor, etc. It is very confusing and you may also be in doubt whether are full-time professors or part-time professors. However the confusion is not limited to this only, all these positions are also covered under tenure or non-tenure track positions. If you are also confused about it, here we will give you a complete guide discussing Tenure vs non-tenure Professors.

Quick Takeaways

  • A tenure track position is awarded to you as a professor if you have completed a predetermined period of time.
  • A non-track position is one where you will not be following the path to getting a tenured position. 
  • You generally have a lower income as a non-tenured professor when compared to a tenured professor.
  • The average salary of a tenured professor is around $94,211 and for a non-tenured professor is around $75,399.

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts related to the tenure track positions and non-tenure track positions.

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

What is a tenure track position?

A tenure track position is awarded to you as a professor if you have completed a predetermined period of time. You must have made a great contribution to teaching, researching and also to the university. When you are hired by the institution you are given a certain prerequisite set by the institution. You may get to complete the prequisite for five or six years depending upon the institution.

Once you complete them, your performance will be reviewed by the institution by taking feedback from students, peers etc. After that, you are guaranteed to have a lifetime job at the institution. In short, we can say that having a tenure helps in securing a lifetime job. 

What is a non-track position?

A non-track position is one where you will not be following the path to getting a tenured position. They are usually hired on a contractual or part-time basis that is between 1-3 years. The main focus in this role is to get the teaching and other services from the teachers appointed. You may be eligible to take part in different research and publications but it will not have a great impact on your final assessment. Adjunct assistant professors and visiting assistant professors are the most common non-tenure track positions. You will be earning usually less than the tenured track position.

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

In addition to that, there are some full-time professors who are appointed annually and do not have many responsibilities. Generally, most of the non-tenured track faculty members are hired in four main departments – Instructional, research, Clinical, and Practitioner. 

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor: Benefits and Drawbacks

Further, we will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of both positions one by one-

Advantages of Having a Tenured Position

The following are the advantages of having a tenured position –

  • As discussed above having a tenured position means that you will be getting a secured life-secured job as a professor in the institution. 
  • As you know you get a job for life you can explore your academic interests. 
  • You will be getting higher salaries than the non-tenured position salary. 

Advantages of Having a Non-Tenured Position

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

The following are the advantages of having a non-tenured position –

  • Contract renewals are often available which help to provide satisfaction.
  • You will have time to explore other career choices or work on your other interests. So if you still are in doubt about becoming a professor you can become a part-time non-tenured professor.
  • If you want to switch to another institution, you can easily do it. It will help you to explore new institutions and get new learning experiences.
  • You will not need to have work in publications and research. It means that you will be only focusing on teaching which will help you in your career growth.

Disadvantages of having a Tenured Position

The following are the disadvantages of having a tenured position –

  • You will also need to work on different publications and research projects along with teaching the students.
  • Some institutions may restrict you from trying for new areas when you get tenure in their institutions.
  • You will have a lot of responsibilities that you will need to take care of. From teaching to responding the emails, from giving lectures to sitting in meetings, you need to perform each and everything given to you.

Disadvantages of having a Non-Tenured Position

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

The following are the disadvantages of having a non-tenured position –

  • The salaries of a non-tenured position are generally lower than those of a full-time professor.
  • There is no security of a job if you are having a non-tenured position.
  • You do not get to take part in the policies developed for the department or the universities. 

Which one is a better option: A tenured position or a non-tenured position?

The first thing you must remember is that being a tenured professor means lifetime job security. It also means having a high salary and more workload. Whereas being a non-tenure professor you will have less responsibility and a lower salary. It also means that you will have more time to explore your other interests and career options. Therefore if you are not sure about being a professor you must go for non-tenure positions. It will help you to determine if you really want to be a professor or not.

Also as you will have fewer responsibilities you will be getting more time to relax. On the other hand, if you are interested in teaching then getting a tenured track position is worth it. Although it will not provide you with great flexibility it will definitely help you to get a secure job.

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

Can you go from the non-tenure track to a tenure-track position?

If you are a full-time non-tenure track position and you want to shift to the tenured track position you can do it by submitting an application to the institution. You will need to write an email to the head of the department or the dean of the institution, making a request for a tenured position. Then a meeting may happen between them regarding the requirement of the tenured position for the subject you are teaching. The most common requirement that most institutions see is the time duration you have worked with a particular institution. If you have fulfilled those requirements then you may be eligible for getting the tenured position.

However, one thing that you can do is to make sure that you have already completed those requirements by talking to a newly tenured professor. As they have just got the position they must have an idea of what are the requirements to become a tenure-tracked position. Also, make sure that you are punctual in your classes and are giving your best to teach the students. All these things may help you get your tenured job. It is because if your request is not approved you may not be able to reapply for 2-3 years depending upon the institution’s policy.

What is the average salary for both tenured and non-tenured professors?

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

As we discussed above the salary for tenured professors is much higher than the non-tenured professors. However, you must remember that the salary varies with different factors like location of the institution, experience, etc. If we consider tenured professors, the average salary you will be getting is around $94,211. On the other hand, if we talk about the average salary of a non-tenured professor it is around $75,399

What are the criteria for getting a promotion in a Tenured and non-tenured position?

The criteria for getting a promotion in Tenured and non-tenured position is different. If you are in a non-tenured position you must have an outstanding research record. In addition to that, you must have excellent teaching skills and also have great funding. However on the other hand, if you are a tenured professor then the criteria to get a promotion are different. It will vary with the institution you are working in. Starting with you may need to work on more publications and research projects. It will help to show your knowledge in the related field of study.

Further, you must make sure that if you are a senior researcher in any research project you are mentioning it properly. If you are not then you must mention it clearly. You must have a good reputation nationally and internationally. There must be a strong contribution in the teaching and also in providing the service to the department in which you are working. 

Tenure vs Non-Tenure Professor (Which One is Better in 2023)

Conclusion

A tenure track position is awarded to you as a professor if you have completed a predetermined period of time. Whereas, a non-track position is one where you will not be following the path to getting a tenured position and will generally work for 1-2 years. As a non-tenured professor, you will be getting a lower salary when compared to a tenured professor. You can also go from a non-tenured position to a tenured position by sending an application to a higher authority. However, you must make sure that you have already completed the requirements for becoming a tenured professor.

FAQs

What is the difference between a promotion and a tenure?

Tenure is given to the professors which helps to add long-term value to the university. Usually, you get a probationary period in which you will have to meet the prerequisites of the institution. Once you complete them you will get a lifelong opportunity to work with the institution. Whereas promotion is all about the record of achievements. When you get a promotion it means that you are getting at a higher academic rank. It does not give you the assurance of the job in the respective institution.

Can part-time faculty be promoted?

Your part-time faculty is the one who puts a lot of effort into teaching you. Therefore every institution provides promotions to their part-time faculty. However, the way they do may be different and the requirements for promotion may also vary.

William Christie
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