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Average, Lowest and Highest Pay for College Teachers in the USA

Updated on June 28, 2011
Harvard College is the top-paying college for professors.
Harvard College is the top-paying college for professors. | Source

The men and women who instruct the post-high school set earn varying salaries depending on their rank and employing colleges. According to the American Association of University Professors, the average income of all college teachers is $66,467 per year. This is based on a survey of 1224 institutions across the U.S. and includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


Though actual definitions may differ among institutions, instructors are generally the lowest ranking faculty members and have a minimum master’s degree. They do not have tenure and are hired for a specific term. They earn an average $48,083 per year. Their highest pay is a mean $86,600 per year at Queens College in New York. Their lowest averages run $24,100 at Kent State University at Astabula in Ohio.

Assistant Professors

Assistant professors represent the first rank in achieving tenure, and is the first faculty rank appointed for multiple terms. This position may require some years experience as an instructor with a master’s degree, or a minimum Ph.D. Assistant professors make a mean $59,319 per year. Their highest averages are at the California Institute of Technology at $108,100 per year. Their lowest lowest pay is at the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico at $26,800 per year.

Associate Professors

Associate professors need a Ph.D. and several years as an assistant professor before achieving this tenure track position. Their highest salary averages $126,800 per year at Stanford University in California. Their lowest is at $39,600 per year at the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico.


Professors have full tenure at a university, and may not be dismissed without cause. They earn the highest pay of college teachers. They require several years experience as associate professor as well as a Ph.D. Achieving tenure grants the freedom to pursue special projects or teach subjects that may not be politically popular. Tenure-track positions are becoming increasingly scarce at modern American universities. Professors average a mean $89,060 annually. Their highest pay runs $193,800 per year at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Their lowest pay is at Villa Maria College of Buffalo in New York at $33,700 per year.


The survey reveals differences in averages between genders, though men always make more than women. For example, male instructors earn $48,741 yearly, while their female counterparts make $47,299 annually. For associate professors, the wages are $70,798 for men and $68,133 for women. Male assistant professors earn $60,520 while female ones get $58,397. Finally, at the instructor level, men receive $48,741 and women make $47,299.

© Copyright 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Oh my gosh! Pay for college instructors and professors is as poor as for teachers in grades kindergarten through high school. So the folks who perform these jobs must do so for reasons other than a paycheck -- and it shows in the dedication to their profession.

      Great hub: voted up and Shared.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good hub and your statistics pretty much parallel my experience in Academia. There are a few extremely well paid academics that push the median income up. Most of us get paid somewhere between the median and low numbers. Interesting and very informative. Sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Alocsin-this was a fascinating hub. Thanks for your research on this subject. It really helps to have the information right on hand instead of having to research this subject myself. It's always interesting how females make less than their male co-workers. It is one of the political positions that is hot in this election: Equal pay for women and men.

      Thanks for sharing Rated up/U/I

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is very interesting. I feel bad for professors because at alot of schools they are significantly underpaid compared to coaches of the sports programs. And I believe the provide an invaluable service to the university educating bright minds.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 6 years ago from India

      This page will surely attract the aspirant college lecturers and professors who want to compare their pay package and will give some insight about their earnings. Voted up and interesting. socially shared.