Career area: Academic teaching – EMBL Fellows' Career Service

EMBL Careers

A life science careers blog for early career researchers

This blog aims to inspire early career researchers exploring different career options. We provide interview-based profiles of life scientists working in diverse science-related careers and articles on a broad range of career-related topics, with new content added on a regular basis.

Career area: Academic teaching

In addition to positions focused on research or scientific services, it is possible in many countries to have an academic career focused on teaching.

Roles and responsibilities

Each country has a unique higher education system and different way of organizing research and teaching within universities, technical universities and other higher education institutions. We recommend resources in the ‘want to learn more’ section below that can help you learn more about teaching-focussed roles in different countries.

Knowledge and skills

In our careers and skills survey,  4 people with academic teaching careers told us the competencies they use most in their daily work  The most frequently selected competencies were:

  • visualizing data and ideas (selected by 100% of respondents)
  • effective communication (selected by 75% of respondents, and ranked most important for success in the role)
  • broad scientific knowledge (selected by 75% of respondents)
  • independent thought (selected by 75% of respondents)

Language requirements

To be eligible you will normally need to be fluent in the local language. Although an increasing number of graduate courses are taught in English, undergraduate teaching usually takes place in the local language.

Career entry and progression

Career entry and career progression is highly country-specific and dependent on the relevant national system; in many cases a large proportion of teaching is done by staff on precarious and/or part-time contracts, but some career tracks provide stable positions.  There are different national prerequisites for teaching at the university level – in some countries accreditation is required. The application process for positions often requires a dossier of evidence documenting your relevant teaching experience.  

Why consider this career area?

In our careers and skills survey, 4 people with academic teaching careers told us what they appreciate most about their work. The most common selections were, that the work:

  • is intellectually stimulating (80%)
  • allows them to be creative (60%)
  • allows them to set their own direction and think independently (60%)
  • benefits society (60%)

Want to learn more?

Sources / further reading

Further internal resources

For EMBL fellows

Within EMBL, further internal resources (e.g. recorded career seminars) can be found on our career exploration intranet pages.

Informational interviews

For all career areas, we highly recommend first learning more about the careers using the resources above, then conducting informational interviews to gain further insights directly from former PhDs working in career areas that interest you.

Last update: October 2022

EU flag and text, co-funded by the European Union
The EMBL Fellows' Career Service incorporates the EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoc (EIPOD) career development programme. EI3POD and EIPOD4 have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreements 664726 (2015-2020) and 847543 (2019-present) respectively.