Even though the job of assistant professor is an entry-level position at a university, one must possess a doctorate degree. At the university level, it is quite rare for a recent graduate of a Ph.D degree to be offered such a position. This is because of the lack of experience in the position. Therefore, the typical person in such a position has at least two years experience in a post-doctoral fellowship. The name of the rank is mainly to distinguish between the various pay scales at the university level.
As a rule, the position of assistant professor is not a tenured position. However, it can be used as a tenure track position, which means that the assistant can be offered tenure and promotion to associate professor after a probationary period, the probationary period can be from three to seven years. The chances of being promoted depend on the positions available at the university. For the most part, 50% of professors working as assistants get tenure and promotion at the end of their sixth year of service. The first contract for the position is usually for a three-year period and can be renewed for a further three years. There is no obligation on the part of the university to renew a contract because this is not a tenured position. A person whose contract is not renewed at the end of the first contract period can apply to another university and still receive tenure after another three-year period. Of course recommendations and evaluations from the university will play a large part in this process.
Typically an assistant professor works with an associate professor. During the time of the contract, the assistant has time to work on research or scholarly writings that are requirements for promotion in the ranks. The work that he/she does during this period of time is always evaluated and this evaluation comes into play at the end of the probationary period. An assistant can work with another professor to plan courses, write up handouts for class and help advise students about courses and help succeed in specific courses.
For the position at a community college, you may be hired with a Master’s degree in the discipline you will teach. This applies mainly to colleges offering two-year programs. It also depends on the number of positions available and the number of applicants. When reviewing the applicants for a position, those with doctoral degrees take precedence over those with Master’s degrees. Community colleges also require applicants to have some teaching experience, either at the post-secondary or high school level.
Other qualifications necessary to obtain a position as an assistant professor include the ability to relate well with students and colleagues. They should enjoy working with undergraduate students as well as graduate students and be able to provide them with help when they need it. They should be able to work in an environment where they have very little supervision. They are responsible for the planning and delivery of the courses assigned to them as well as preparing exams and grading them for final reports.