Building a Teaching Career in Economics

When you enter the job market to teach economics, the institutions you apply for may have different characteristics. Therefore, you may need to tailor your application to the type of institution and role characteristics listed in the job posting.

A growing number of universities offer a variety of career paths for teachers, allowing you to pursue a career in academia tailored to your area of ​​specialization. This may be a traditional teaching and research role or a teaching and research role.

For a research and teaching role, universities often place a high value on your published and ongoing research, your potential to conduct world-leading research, and how well your research fits into the overall balance of the department. Institutions will also review your application to teach philosophy. Although, in some institutions, research capacity may be given more weight in decision making.

However, for positions focused on learning, the balance of role will be shifted towards learning. As such, institutions will seek evidence of your teaching philosophy and commitment to thinking about pedagogy, along with your research. Some institutions will expect scholars working in teaching and associated with scholarship to continue discipline-focused research, while others will place more emphasis on scholarship in teaching and learning, for example through assessment and pedagogy development.

It is likely that a career focused on teaching will require you to have a higher teaching load than a traditional research and teaching role. In some institutions, teaching-oriented faculty can teach twice as many hours as research and teaching faculty.

Any application must be tailored to the role and institution you are applying to.

Be passionate about teaching and pedagogy!

If you are considering starting a career as a teacher in economics, it is important to have a passion for teaching and the ability to motivate and inspire students.

Teaching with passion means bringing knowledge to the classroom with enthusiasm, building interaction with students, and sharing your interests and research, where appropriate, for discussion.

If you are passionate about education, a career in economics teaching can be very rewarding. However, you will need to take the time to prepare and be wise enough to admit that you don’t know everything.

This can sometimes be difficult, as you may be asked to teach material that will require you to be familiar with a new topic that you have never encountered before. You should also be aware that the breadth and depth of course material is likely to change as students deepen their knowledge of the discipline in their degree (e.g. undergraduate or graduate modules) and also depending on the institutions where you are working.

Also, keep in mind that innovative pedagogy and the use of appropriate technology may be more important than ever before. Over the past couple of years, education has seen fundamental structural changes in the various ways in which teaching and student learning are supported. The COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to this.

blended learning as well as flipped classes become more and more normal in the higher education environment, along with tools such as bulletin boards and teaching aids in the classroom. Along with this, institutions are developing. online course offers. Thus, make sure you remember to mention your innovative methods during your interview as this is very much what employers are looking for nowadays.

Teacher-focused career paths are relatively new to the sector, and while many institutions have teaching-focused roles, some may not be part of the career structure, limiting advancement. However, in a growing number of institutions, the teaching path can lead to a career from teaching assistant to professor.

The names that individual institutions use for training can vary greatly by sector. In some institutions, there may be a clear distinction between traditional researchers and faculty “lecturers” and their teaching and fellowship equivalents (often using terms such as “teacher trainee”). But in others it may be much less clear. In this article, we have tried to illustrate the equivalent levels.

Teacher / Assistant

Many teaching-oriented scholars start out as an assistant or research assistant. These roles are designed to support teaching under the guidance of more senior scholars in your department. For example, they may include conducting workshops in large or small groups, assessing assignments and exams, and helping to enhance student experience.

Along with these tasks, you are generally expected to continue your personal and professional development, which may include participation in research, developing your own pedagogical methodologies and/or instructional innovations, and attending departmental and institutional workshops and national/international conferences.

With this in mind, when writing your application and preparing for an interview, you might want to think about how you can help improve the student experience. Providing evidence of previous higher education teaching experience can also help you succeed in a position.

Assistant professor (teaching activity) / Senior researcher / Lecturer (teaching activity)

At the associate professor level, you are likely to begin to show leadership. You will usually be expected to lead individual modules, or you may be required to take on the role of program leader.

In addition, you may be asked to take part in student pastoral care (such as private tutoring) and lead the development of activities to provide additional academic support to students, as well as collegiate participation in the wider institution. These activities may target applicants (for example, open days and participation events/initiatives), current students (for example, working on developing key learning skills in a degree program), or postgraduate activities (for example, alumni support). connections).

Along with this, you are generally expected to undertake a fellowship, which may be related to disciplinary studies, pedagogical studies, or other academic activities. The latter may include assistance in identifying sources of funding and the process of applying for and securing funds for scientific activities, as well as their dissemination.

Evidence of teacher excellence is critical for such positions. So accreditation (eg Advance HE Scholarship in UK) would be very helpful. You may want to consider acquiring this qualification once you begin your academic career in a teaching-oriented role. Applicants must also demonstrate a good understanding of the broader student experience, especially with regard to welfare, student support, learning skills, internships, and employment opportunities.

Associate Professor (pedagogical activity)

Moving into the role of assistant professor (focused on teaching), your role is likely to become more focused on academic leadership through program management, peer and peer mentoring, and more general leadership in your academic department and the university as a whole.

Interaction with external organizations within the discipline or other institutions can also be valuable in these roles. This may include joining a scientific society committee, participating in sector quality assurance processes, acting as an outside expert, or interacting with an organization such as economic network.

In addition to other teaching responsibilities, you may be required to be more involved in the development of curricula and the planning of learning activities to support the introduction of new degree modules/programs.

Just like a course leader or equivalent, you can take the lead in coordinating the work of others to ensure that courses are delivered effectively. You can also contribute to the professional and career development of colleagues by acting as a personal mentor and giving advice.

You must also have a deep understanding of your own specialty. At this stage, a track record of publications in your area of ​​expertise and/or pedagogical research is desirable. You must demonstrate aptitude and great achievement in teaching, demonstrated by high teaching quality and a solid teaching record.

Professor (teaching activity)

Becoming a teaching-oriented economics professor means demonstrating sustainable influence not only in your institution, but within the discipline as a whole.

As with traditional research and teaching roles, a teaching-oriented professor is expected to provide leadership both within and outside the university within the discipline.

There is a wide variety of what your leadership role might look like. Some may hold editorial positions in scientific journals, others may hold administrative leadership positions at their universities, and still others may hold sector leadership positions to shape the teaching of economics.

In addition, teaching-oriented professors will draw on their scholarship and may conduct case or pedagogical research of international quality to inform research-based teaching practice. They may also jointly and collegially perform academic, pastoral, and other administrative duties within their department.

A career in the path of teaching can be extremely rewarding. As you advance in your role, you may have the opportunity to shape economics education at the university in your own department and beyond.


This article was produced in collaboration with the Economics Network, the largest and oldest academic organization dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of economics in higher education. Learn more about the economic network here.