How To Become A University Professor In Canada: Salary and Costs (2024)

The average university professor in Canada earns $97,500 per year, or an average of $50 per hour.

Even the lowest paid professors in Canada earn over $80,000 per year, which is still a good salary. You can also expect plenty of other perks and benefits as well.

Most professors don’t get into teaching for the money alone, though. The opportunity to teach the younger generation, the respect you’ll earn from your peers, and the networking opportunities you’ll be presented with are all great reasons to pursue a career in education.

Below, I’ll show you a step-by-step guide on how to become a university professor in Canada and explain what to expect from your career. Here’s a quick preview of the steps:

Step 1: Earn Your Doctorate Degree
Step 2: Gain Experience As A Part-Time Lecturer
Step 3: Publish Professional Works To Build Your Reputation
Step 4: Build Rapport Online
Step 5: Apply To Teaching Positions

How Hard Is It To Become A University Professor In Canada?

I’ll be honest – the path to becoming a university professor in Canada can be long and hard.

It’s a career that’s best suited to true academics, professionals, and individuals who love to teach.

Most universities in Canada require aspiring professors to have a doctorate degree in their field before their application is even considered.

You’ll also need to have work experience, a good reputation, and excellent communication skills.

The time and research you put into becoming a university professor in Canada is similar to the path followed by medical doctors. Obtaining your doctorate degree alone can take up to eight years or more.

As a full-time student, you won’t have much time to dedicate to anything else, other than learning and education.

However, if you’re truly dedicated and passionate about your field of study, then a career as a university professor can be truly rewarding.

How Much Do University Professors Earn In Canada?

The average salary for university professors in Canada is $97,500 per year. The longer you teach and the more reputable of a college you teach at, the more money that you can expect to earn.

First-time university professors can expect an average entry-level salary of around $83,000, while top professors can expect to earn upwards of $120,000 per year or more.

Some professors

Here’s a quick chart detailing the top university professor salaries at some of Canada’s top universities:

Average University Professor SalaryUniversity Name
Cambrian College$271,416
University of British Columbia$133,531
University of Toronto$129,506
University of Guelph$174,462
University of Waterloo$123,796
Ryerson University$100,000
McGill University$179,659

Source: (based on reported salaries for 2022)

How To Become A University Professor In Canada: Steps To Take

Many professors don’t start out with the goal of becoming a professor. Instead, they often fall into the position after realizing a natural talent for teaching, speaking, and education.

However, it’s not uncommon for some students to start college with the sole intent of being a professor one day.

Now that you have a better idea of what to expect in terms of income let’s take a look at the steps you need to take in order to become a university professor in Canada.

Step 1: Earn Your Doctorate Degree

Earn Your Doctorate Degree

The path to becoming a professor is fairly straightforward and is based primarily on education. To be considered for a university teaching position, you’ll almost always be required to have a doctorate degree in your chosen career field.

The specialization of your doctorate study will usually be reflected in the class or classes that you teach.

Here’s how a typical doctorate degree track looks in Canada:

  • Obtain your bachelor’s degree: 3 – 5  years of study
  • Obtain your master’s degree: 2 – 3 years of study
  • Obtain your doctorate degree: 4 – 6 years of study

On average, getting your doctorate takes around ten years. Depending on the doctorate degree you choose, it could take up to twelve years or more to earn your Ph.D.

The major you choose in college isn’t quite as important as the direction you choose. Your decision to pursue a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) is the main determinant of your career field.

Once you obtain your bachelor’s degree, you can specialize with your master’s and doctorate degrees.

The school that you earn your doctorate degree from often plays a big part in your ability to land a high-paying job as a university professor.

Applicants who’ve earned their doctorates from more reputable schools are more likely to land top positions compared to those who earned their doctorates from less reputable colleges.

Step 2: Gain Experience As A Part-Time Lecturer

Gain Experience As A Part-Time Lecturer

If you want to be a successful university professor in Canada, you’ll need to develop your skills as a teacher and a lecturer. Without solid public speaking skills, your career as a professor will be short-lived.

Many doctorate-level students are given the opportunity to serve as part-time teachers in the school’s undergraduate program. If nothing else, you may be able to serve as an assistant to more established professors at the university.

This is a great way to learn classroom management skills, public speaking, and will teach you valuable lessons about how to become a top-tier educator in your field.

Step 3: Publish Professional Works To Build Your Reputation

Publish Professional Works To Build Your Reputation

To obtain your doctorate degree, you’ll usually need to complete a dissertation.

Well-presented dissertations are often published by the school after you graduate, which is a great first step to building your professional reputation.

The more professional work you can get your name on, though, the better. Some ideas to build your professional reputation include:

  • Writing articles for scientific or medical journals
  • Assisting in research studies
  • Publishing an editorial in a newspaper
  • Writing and publishing a book

When you apply for a position as a university professor, all of your professional contributions can be used to back up your skills as an educator by showing how dedicated you are to your field.

Another way to build your reputation is to gain experience working in your field.

Some of the best college professors earned a reputation for themselves by starting a company or working as a top-level executive with a major company.

Gaining work experience can add several years to your desired career track as a professor. However, this experience will not only make you a more valuable applicant, but it can also help you earn a higher starting salary.

Step 4: Build Rapport Online

Build Rapport Online

Today, your online reputation is almost as important as your professional reputation. Many professors maintain an online blog, regularly contribute to online journals, and have an online network of contacts.

Some of the best ways to build your professional rapport online include:

  • Creating and optimizing a LinkedIn profile
  • Contributing to reputable online journals
  • Publishing articles on LinkedIn

It’s also important to keep track of your overall online social media footprint.

Most universities aren’t going to want to hire a professor with a history of making inflammatory statements online. Keep everything professional, and don’t post content that could cause your reputation to be held under scrutiny.

Step 5: Apply To Teaching Positions

Apply To Teaching Positions

Once you’ve earned your doctorate degree and built a reputation for yourself, it’s time to start applying to teaching positions. This can either be done online or in person.

The greater your reputation, the more likely you are to get hired. However, your connections can also play a vital role in helping you land your dream job as a university professor.

I would start by tapping into your college’s alumni network. One of your old professors or classmates could help you make a personal connection, which would increase your chances of landing the position.

In fact, one of the main differences between the best universities in Canada and other less-reputable universities is the networking opportunities presented to alumni. This is why it pays off to attend top-rated graduate programs.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A University Professor In Canada?

Unlike becoming a primary or secondary school teacher, university professors don’t have to obtain special licenses or pursue a degree in education.

Instead, university professors earn the right to teach by becoming an expert in their chosen field of study, whether it’s organic chemistry, macroeconomics, or ancient Greek history.

The real cost of becoming a university professor in Canada is the tuition that you’ll pay to earn your graduate degree. While undergraduate programs are more affordable, master’s and doctorate degree programs can easily cost upwards of $20,000 per year or more.

Multiplied over the course of six years (two years for your master’s and four years for your doctorate), you could end up paying over $100,000 to earn your degree before you’re ever considered for a teaching role.

While student loans can help you cover the cost of your education, these will need to be paid off one day.

That being said, if you land a top-paying job as a college professor, you could earn upwards of $100,000 per year, allowing you to quickly pay off your student debt.

Skills You’ll Need As A University Professor In Canada

Skills You’ll Need As A University Professor In Canada

In addition to earning your doctorate degree in your chosen field, you’ll need to develop professional skills, such as:

  • Public speaking
  • Classroom communication and management
  • Writing

Public Speaking

Your ability to speak to a large audience is your key to success as a university professor in Canada. Pretty much anybody can stand behind a podium and drone on for an hour.

However, the best professors are so engaging that an hour-long class goes by in the blink of an eye.

Classroom Communication & Management

Managing a classroom full of college students isn’t always easy. Power struggles between students and teachers are very real, and you’ll need to learn how to deal with them tactfully and professionally.

You’ll need to learn how to communicate quickly, efficiently, and clearly with your students.

Here is where it also helps to learn a bit about psychology and take an intelligent approach to win your students’ approval and confidence.


Many colleges require professors to publish written works or research studies throughout the year as part of their job. This helps the college and the professor remain reputable. As such, you’ll need to get used to writing professional papers and publications.

What Are The Duties Of A University Professor In Canada?

As a university professor, you’ll have a number of duties, including:

  • Teaching classes
  • Grading papers and exams
  • Administering exams
  • Participating in university research programs
  • Communicating with students and teachers

Your first few years will likely be the most difficult, as you’ll have to develop your teaching curriculum for the first time.

Eventually, though, you’ll be able to recycle through your existing class curriculum, which will save you time preparing future lessons.

Final Thoughts

How To Become A University Professor In Canada

Becoming a university professor in Canada isn’t for the lighthearted. The path to earning your doctorate degree, building your professional reputation, and getting hired for a top-paying university job can take up to a decade or more.

However, if you’re truly passionate about teaching, then a career as a professor can be incredibly rewarding.

If making money is your primary concern, though, I’d suggest choosing a different career path or starting your own small business.

Keep on reading to see my list of the best small business ideas in Canada next!

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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