​​6 Books for Professors and Aspiring Instructors

Carolina Jacobs

Dec 8, 2021

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Of the 329.5 million people living in the U.S., a mere 1.5 million are professors. If you’re one of them, you know just how demanding this career path can be. Between teaching, grading and mentoring, you’re also expected to conduct research and get published. Meanwhile, thousands of students dream of becoming an instructor themselves. 

Whether you’re just beginning to apply for jobs in academia or you’ve been tenured for decades, you can always use some helpful advice. Luckily, these books for professors are full of the stuff. Learn how to secure a job in academia, strengthen your teaching skills and improve your research with these must-reads. 

1. “So You Want to Be a Professor: How to Land Your Dream Job in Academia” — Drew Boyd

So, you want to be a professor? Drew Boyd will make you think twice. Then, once you decide to chase your dream job, he’ll map out how to make the leap into academia. His book covers a wide variety of issues including the odds of success and provides commentary for professors who’ve been teaching and researching for a long time. Use Boyd’s tips to prepare now so you land and succeed in an academic role in the future. 

2. “How to Become a Professor” — Stephen Jenkins

Today’s top research university assistant professor of psychology hires have about 16 publications, roughly half of which are first author. That’s an intimidating number to many graduate students. However, there’s a reason why colleges emphasize getting published. Stephen Jenkins discusses this topic and other common stressors in this handy book. He also provides advice for teaching adult learners and networking with the academic community. 

3. “So You Want to Be a Professor” — Peter Hughes and Roderick Tennyson

There’s seemingly no shortage of books with this title, but the authors take a different approach in this one. Most professors view tenure as the end goal, but Peter Hughes and Roderick Tyson suggest that there are more routes to success and other dreams worth chasing. Whether you’re interested in the world of instructing or are already in the profession, a multitude of career options exist. Discover the opportunities and pitfalls that come with each one so can choose the best path for yourself. 

4. “The Adjunct Professor’s Complete Guide to Teaching College” — Anthony Fredericks

Adjunct professors represent 40% of the academic workforce, and their numbers are growing. Yet, their occupation is one of the most ignored in academia. Take a deep dive into this plight by cracking open a comprehensive guide to part-time teaching. The included tips will help you learn how to be an invaluable asset to your institution and a more confident instructor. They’ll also allow you to better understand the expectations of part-time professors. 

5. “The University: An Owner’s Manual” — Henry Rosovsky

Wishing your university was just run sensibly? Whether you’re a student, a professor or something in between, you likely appreciate a well-run academic environment. However, the education system is far from perfect and the people who run it are flawed, so what more can you expect? Get the inside scoop on America’s colleges, the challenges they face and the issues that affect faculty, alumni, trustees and more in this handy manual. The author also covers topics like tenure, the admissions process and curriculum. 

6. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” — Dale Carnegie 

Are your students failing to produce quality work? Pick up a copy of the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This highly successful book has sold more than 15 million copies, making it a timeless bestseller and one of the best books for professors. Discover the six ways to make people like you and nine ways to change people for the better. The author also provides 12 tips to win others to your way of thinking so you can better motivate students.

Heart of a Student

You know what they say. You learn something new every day. Cultivate the right mindset and the heart of a student by reading as many books for professors as you can. Learn about the expectations that come with the career and how to succeed as an instructor. More importantly, discover how to engage with students and help them achieve their dreams, too. 

Supplement your reading with input from professors, graduate students, professional journals and other informative resources. The more information you glean, the better off you’ll be. Does it require a lot of research? Of course, but that’s what professors do. 

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