What does a Lecturer do?
Despite what the name might imply, a lecturer is not someone who harangues you about combing your hair, driving too fast, tucking in your shirt, or eating all your vegetables. Quite to the contrary, a lecturer is a person who is well versed in either specific or multiple subjects, and imparts his advice to an audience in search of knowledge or inspiration. Most commonly, such speakers are experts in their field. That said, as can be testified to by anyone who has ever sat through a boring lecture, not all of these orators are trained in public speaking.
On the professional lecture circuit, you can find a host of celebrities, politicians, and authors. The purpose of their lectures can come in many forms. Some take the podium to promote a personal cause, while others may be relating life experiences for the entertainment of the crowd. Some lecturers are attempting to make a persuasive argument, convincing those who listen that their views or opinions are more correct than those of others. Some are simply promoting a book, movie, or product, interspersing amusing anecdotes amidst the sales pitch.
The occupations of those people whose secondary title might be that of a lecturer cover the spectrum of society. A minister or priest is a paid lecturer, but so is a teacher or professor. The truth of the matter is that almost anyone can be a lecturer, but all share a commonality. These speakers are trying to make a point, and hopefully inspire those who attend the lecture to at least consider the views and statements presented.
The most sought-after lecturers fall into the category of professional speaker. Many of these professionals, who talk for a living, are graced with enthusiasm, passion, and a silver tongue. Frequently they may opine at length on personal betterment, and just as frequently may offer programs and home-study courses for those who find their theories attractive. The professional speaker may cover subjects ranging from wealth management to weight loss to finding inner peace to building healthy relationships. In more than a few cases, professional lecturers command extremely high fees for their services.
On the other hand, some lecturers seek no compensation at all. Their thoughts and views are presented simply for the edification of others. The venue might be a soapbox in the village square, or it might be center stage at Carnegie Hall. In either case, the aim of the lecturer is to provide food for thought.
For those who are curious about wading into the waters of being a lecturer there are lots of opportunities abroad in the ESL field. Often universities in China hire lecturers with on a Bachelor's degree and a good speaking voice.
For the universities in China having international speakers is a big deal and they hire for a variety of topics. While many of the spots are for English they also offer positions for business lecturers, the arts and in numerous other fields.
While the pay isn't as good as in other countries it is a great way to learn about a new country and get your feet wet as a lecturer.
I think being a lecturer really requires a certain type of personality to be successful. I had some professors in school who were brilliant but just boring to listen to. They didn't know how to deliver their material in a meaningful way to capture their audience’s attention.
On the flip side, we had some public speakers that came in as lecturers and they were fantastic. Often we found that the guest speakers were more upbeat, and even if they didn't hold a PhD they were knowledgeable about what they were passionate about and it showed. I think more people who have more positive experiences in university if the schools brought in more talented lecturers instead of those that just spoke blandly.
Being a lecturer sounds great. You would get to spend all your time just talking about a subject that you loved. And the fact that you are the only one speaking means that you can take the discussion is any direction you choose.
I love to read and I would love to lecture about 19th Century American novels. I fell like if I was standing behind a podium I could talk for 10 days straight about this subject. The tricky part would be keeping the audience in their seats.
@indemnifyme - I have heard that it's hard to advance in the academic world so I'm not surprised your friend had trouble. A job as a lecturer at a university still looks great on a resume though.
I personally don't understand how anyone can do that or any other lecturer job! I'm just too darn shy to ever consider a career that involved any public speaking.
@miriam98 - A friend of mine worked as a lecturer at a local university for a little while. She really enjoyed it but she ended up leaving because there was no room for advancement. She actually had her master's but the department simply had no positions open.
In my opinion it sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you have other part time work also. The lecturer salary my friend was making wasn't really enough to cover her cost of living, so she bartended on the weekends. This would probably also be a good job for a parent who only wanted to work part time.
@miriam98 - Titles, of course, are the most obvious difference as well.
I find that many schools use different titles for their instructors. The difference between a lecturer vs a professor, for example, usually comes down to degrees.
A professor is someone with a PhD whereas a lecturer can be anyone who gives a talk on a subject, regardless of degree.
Some schools also use the term “instructor” to refer to the lowest lecturer on the totem pole; our school used this as the term for an adjunct, although it could be used differently in other schools.
If you want to wade in the waters of the teaching profession and you have a Bachelor’s degree, I recommend that you become an adjunct lecturer.
I did that for some time, teaching English composition part-time at the local community college. Adjunct lecturers don’t have to have a PhD or a Masters degree, as would be required for a full-time professor.
They only need a Bachelor’s degree and are mainly called upon to assist the tenured professor with some of his teaching duties. Also they don’t have some of the responsibilities that tenured professors have.
For example, when I was an adjunct lecturer, I didn’t have to publish in peer reviewed journals like the professor did-I only concentrated on teaching.
On the flip side, adjunct lecturers miss out on some of the benefits too. There is no tenure, for example, or other benefits. But I found it to be good experience.
Post your comments