Those considering a career in academia have many options, and the values of each individual will play a large role in determining the sort of academic or administrative career and work environment they will find fulfilling. While the values of the individual will certainly impact their choice of workplace, other variables also factor into the equation. Compensation and benefits, the overall work environment, the academic reputation of the institution, the type of institutional governance and the effectiveness of the administration are all key factors in employee job satisfaction. In considering top employers in Higher Education, we sought to highlight 10 exceptional institutions in each of the following categories: State schools, Research institutions, Private colleges, Liberal arts colleges, and Community colleges. Certainly there are many exceptional employers we weren’t able to include, but we hope that the variety we include here will give prospective employees a starting point and a good sense of the available options.
Professionals seeking to both teach and advance their field through research should consider research universities. These tend to be large institutions flush with funds from government grants and private donors that prioritize research. Research universities offer a unique working environment where success is measured not just on being an effective instructor, but also a successful researcher. These universities tend to be highly results-oriented in their employee evaluations, and the work environment is often competitive and challenging.
Public or “state” universities are not always research oriented, though they often do have some research component involved. Professionals attracted to teaching in a public university may value the chance to provide a great education for a more diverse student population, not just in race or socioeconomic class, but also in priority. Many public universities are massive, and it takes a special kind of professional to be satisfied in this situation, one that won’t feel lost in a crowd, and knows how to engage students on a level so that they feel a part of an academic community, instead of just feeling like a number.
Resource: Best State Universities to Work for 2013
Private Colleges and Universities
The best private universities tend to be extremely selective both with students and faculty. These universities compete by hiring the best of the best. Some are research universities, some are liberal arts or have a focus on classical education, many are a combination of various styles. These universities are best suited to professionals who strive to be among the academic elite in their respective fields. Compensation, benefits and perks are generally top of the line among the top private universities.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal arts colleges have an entirely different academic priority and methodology than the major research, public, and private universities. Liberal arts studies generally focus on interdisciplinary education, believing that the purpose of the bachelor’s level education is to expand the mind of the student by having them study things both in and outside their comfort zone, and come to an understanding of how everything relates to everything else in some way. This approach is designed to create a well rounded student, and professors that truly believe in this system will likely only enjoy working at a liberal arts institution. Some liberal arts universities are so committed to the interdisciplinary approach that every professor will eventually teach every class offered at the university at some point or another.
Community colleges are becoming a common choices for students looking to save money by spending their first couple years close to home, and then transferring to a four year school to finish. There are also many students that know what they want to do, and that they only need a two year degree to get started. Professors that want to give these students a strong basis for starting either their profession, or their academic career, will often find teaching at a good community college is very rewarding. The work environment tends to be very laid back, focused more on developing relationships between faculty and students, making sure the students are prepared for their future. There is little or no pressure to publish articles in academic journals or to be performing results oriented research. The compensation and benefits are generally less than what is available at other schools, but retirement programs are generally very strong and so professors in it for the long haul are rewarded in the end.
Resource: Best Community Colleges to Work for 2013