Though the main job of a chemistry professor is to teach chemistry, the actual job may involve a lot more than that. Many professors not only teach the subject, but also conduct research into their chosen fields. In addition, some chemistry professors will also help run the chemistry department, serve as a liaison to the rest of the university, and participate in other college activities.
The level at which a chemistry professor teaches may be determined by a number of different factors, including experience, type of college and interest. Those who are just starting out in their teaching careers may start at a junior college, or teaching basic chemistry classes at the freshman and sophomore levels. Often these professors are referred to as probationary or assistant professors. Those who gain experience and respect within the field may be offered tenure, where many jobs are awarded on the basis of interest and seniority.
In order to teach most effectively a chemistry professor often develops lesson plans, which not only include lectures and homework, but also labs and demonstrations. Based on the information presented in class, along with the information presented in the directed readings, the chemistry professor creates tests to make sure the students are properly learning the material. Any student not meeting a certain standard may be recommended for tutoring or other special services.
Typically, a chemistry professor spends 40 to 50 percent of their time in the classroom actually teaching. While this may make it seem like professors have a great deal of free time on their hands, other duties often keep them very busy. The rest of the time is spent in devising lesson plans, holding office hours, grading papers and other assigned duties.
Teaching, while a major portion of the job, may not the only duty a chemistry professor has at a college or university. Eventually, the professor may be asked to serve on a board governing the chemistry department, or college of science at a particular school. In this capacity, the professor is responsible for overseeing budgets, making projections, and ensuring that adequate supplies are kept on hand.
In addition to these duties, a chemistry professor may also be working to get published in any number of different ways. Some may be conducting research into chemical reactions and processes for scientific journals or other publications. Others write textbooks for chemistry classes at both the college and high school levels. This is often in addition to teaching their regular schedule of classes.