Post-Secondary Instructor

Post secondary instructors of environmental programs teach students at universities and other degree-granting institutions. They also conduct scientific research, and publish their findings in professional and academic journals and magazines. For example, someone wanting to understand how geese find the same location every year would study geese throughout university and then become a professor to share their knowledge. Most professors work at universities and other degree granting institutions. Others work for the government.

At a Glance

Imagine you have just received a large grant to research water levels in the area surrounding your community. You believe that global climate change is affecting the water levels, and your research will allow you to test this theory. Your research takes you to remote areas of the wilderness where you’re able to combine your knowledge of the land and its ecosystems with modern technology. You also spend time in the classroom, teaching your methods and findings to enthusiastic students. Being able to pass on knowledge about the environment is one of the best parts of your job.

As a post-secondary instructor, you combine your belief in life-long learning with a desire to share the knowledge you have acquired. You work in university classrooms and laboratories, but also spend time in the field conducting your own research. You work independently most of the time, although sometimes you team up with other professors and students on research projects. You enjoy a flexible schedule and a degree of freedom not seen in most jobs. As well, you have the opportunity to travel around the world, meeting other people and sharing your research at conferences. You end each day feeling inspired to learn more, and feeling good that you’re making a difference in students’ lives.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties you might encounter as a post-secondary instructor:

  • Teach courses.
  • Prepare, administer, and grade assignments and exams.
  • Determine course requirements and plan course schedules.
  • Serve on committees responsible for academic and faculty matters.
  • Conduct research and contribute material to books, journals, and magazines.
  • Supervise graduate student projects.
  • Represent the university as a subject matter expert by making presentations and speaking at public lectures, and by providing expert advice to the media and government.
  • May be required to manage a department as a chairperson or department head.

Work Environment

Post-secondary instructors work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the office/classroom:

  • Teach university courses
  • Monitor laboratory experiments
  • Develop a course outline (called a syllabus), plan lessons, and create presentations for the classroom
  • Develop and submit proposals within the institution

In the field:

  • Research your environmental area of expertise
  • Establish partnerships and liaise with stakeholders
  • Supervise graduate students

Where to Work

  • Universities, colleges, technical schools, and degree-granting institutions
  • Government, industry, and/or private firms as consultants

Education and Skills

In most cases, the minimum educational requirement to work as a post-secondary instructor is a Ph.D., although some post-secondary instructors hold two or more post-graduate degrees. The degree should be attained with distinction and candidate is often recognized for their depth of knowledge and expertise through their outstanding and innovative contributions to their field of study. To be eligible for tenure (permanent position), a faculty member is required to have five years of full-time work. Tenure may be granted upon approval by academic peers following a detailed review of the candidate’s accomplishments. If you are a high school student considering a career as a post-secondary instructor you should have a strong interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Social studies
  • English/French

Role Models

Your Impact

Occupational Classification

ECO Canada Logo

Site en cours de développement

Nous travaillons actuellement sur la version française du site que nous espérons lancer très bientôt!

Merci pour votre patience et compréhension pendant que nous finalisons la version améliorée du site.

Website in Development

We are working to launch the French site very soon!

Thank you for your patience while we finalize the new and improved version of our website.