If you are someone who wants a lot of money right from the start of your career, this post is not for you. But I would suggest that you read it still. Strange but I see 100s of super successful people making a U turn, late in their careers to come back to the field of teaching and research. So, stay tuned and you never know – it might be your big idea! Now, to the main question – Why a career in higher education, teaching and research makes sense in India right now? What is it about the education scenario in India that makes me believe this could be the most cunning move for people with the right fit?

Let me begin with a real story:

This is about 6 years ago. One of my very close friends was deeply upset about her CAT results and anxiously worried about her future. Her friends were joining private B-Schools. But she didn’t want to go to an okay B-school, pay a lot of fees and consequently tank the rest of her career (Career Tip:- Joining a B & C-Grade B-school today could be a very intelligent way to screw the rest of your life).

I knew my friend closely well. A highly competitive, fast paced and demanding corporate life would have never made her happy. So we devised a plan for her. She was good at reading for long hours, liked studying and researching – she fit into the profile of a research scholar perfectly. Between the two of us, we cracked the right match between her music and choice of instrument.

She did her MBA from a State University (less hectic, demanding & very less in Fee structure) which gave her time to prepare for research entrance exams (UGC-NET) and build up a research profile She not only cleared UGC-NET as a JRF; but today, she is about to finish her PhD from IIM Lucknow and is on her way to carving the kind of life for herself that she always wanted. Her name is Arunima Shah. And I am so proud of her as she boards her flight to USA in a few hours to present her research paper there at the American Marketing Association.

During my years as a Motivational Speaker & Career Counsellor, I have suggested this career path of offline and online teachings jobs and research jobs to many students and parents. I try to give career counselling and career guidance advice based on my evaluation of their abilities, personality and skills; and many show acumen for the field of research and teaching. I believe now is the right time to get into this field and those who took this step half a decade ago are already reaping great benefits. So – why now?

1. Reforms and Govt. policies – Pile of untapped Opportunity for PhD scholars

In an attempt to promote innovation and reverse the brain drain (brain gain) problem in India, the Govt. has been working on reforms and policies. In the research sector, the Union Cabinet has approved the Prime Minister Research Fellowship scheme for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, NITs and IISERs. The fellowship offered ranges from 70,000 – 80,000 for the duration of the PhD program. (Read more)

These initiatives are not limited to the IT and applied sciences field only. Similar offerings are made for management research, medicine and other sciences. The scheme has been designed to address national priorities and the shortage of quality faculties in higher educational institutes. Given the rate at which IITs, IIMs, NITs, IIITs are cropping up in the country, there is massive opportunity in the times ahead. As of now there are 20 IIMs and 23 IITs across the country (By 2020 there will be more).

The newer ones are in dire need of good faculty – and it’s only going to increase with time. Add to this list – the host of good and okayish private colleges (that pay really well) and you are sitting on a pile of teaching jobs in India and abroad! All you need to do is – know your subject well, be good and patient at research and have a flair or love for teaching.

You could be a PG in Sciences or Maths or Commerce or any – if you are good and know your subject: Jobs and very good jobs are waiting for you. e.g. I regularly meet Science Post Graduates & doctorates who are earning a lot of money teaching at coaching institutes. Others while researching at Agri-Business institutes or IISc or NDRIs, NLS, NIFTs etc etc. Arts Post Graduates too who love their subjects have innumerable places to take themselves to.

The PhD program at IIMs is known as Fellow Programme in Management. With the passing of the IIM Bill in 2017, the IIMs are now eligible to award degrees instead of diplomas. So what was a PhD equivalent till about a month ago can now confer the title ‘doctorate’ to its eligible scholars.

But the question still remains – why would you choose a career with okay money? What does it get you in return? Read on.

2. Who says it’s OKAY money!

This was a quora response to the question ‘salary of IIM professors’ written by a currently employed IIM faculty:

Assistant Prof Start of Scale = Rs.17.29 lakhs

Assistant Prof (with 3yrs experience) Start of Scale = Rs.22.07 lakhs

Associate Prof Start of Scale = Rs.23.37 lakhs

Full Prof Start of Scale = Rs.26.51 lakhs

Full Prof End of Scale = Rs.35.73 lakhs

Full Prof with HAG End of Scale = Rs.36.34 lakhs

Director = Rs.36.50 Lakhs

All these figures are approximate numbers based on the 7th Pay commission multipliers of 2.62 for Assistant and Associate and 2.72 for Professors (which will be applicable from 1st April, 2018). The amounts stated above do not include the added benefits of medicals, travel and research grants for conferences (national and international), books etc. And it does not include the scope of extra amount to be earned from consulting projects either, which is considerable in itself. IITs and IIMs have huge, reputable clients, frequent management development programs (MDPs) and projects throughout the year; not to mention the increasing batch sizes. The salaries of IITs, NITs and professors across other Govt. institutes and universities are quite near this range. Even the salary of a normal college Assistant professor e.g. the ones teaching in the colleges near you – DAV College or Govt College is near INR 60,000 (starting). With a few years of experience – it moves quite up.

career in teaching and research
Said no teacher ever 🙂 [Image courtesy: Supermug)
Plus, there is remuneration attached to publishing your research in international journals of repute. The older IIMs pay anywhere from 10-15 lakhs (to all authors combined) for publishing in a journal of A* ranking.

With the perks of getting a PhD degree (mentioned in the first point), it seems like a good bargain to me – especially when you read the NEXT FEW BENEFITS of a career in this field.

3. Brilliant work life balance

My family is full of doctors and doctorates – PhDs in Management, Education – all kinds. The one story that’s common with all of them is – they love the work life balance that a career in teaching and research brings. My wife Ritika chose not to be a Corporate Trainer after her PhD in Management from UBS, Chandigarh but decided to teach Management at a College for the same reason. I travel for 20 days in a month. Had it not been for her kind of work- Arya & Atharv (our kids) would be growing on default settings (Scary).

Brilliant work-life balance is especially important for people who care a little more about family and spending meaningful time with their children and aging parents. For them jobs in educational institutes could be the right fit. One of my friends told me that the sole reason he applied to the PhD program is that he was inspired by the superb work life balance his father maintained (he was a professor) and he wanted the same in his life. One lovely thing:- the participation of women in this field has been steadily increasing in this field in the last few years as well; and I sincerely hope that more compassionate and brilliant women join this field to help share future minds and professors and teachers!

work life balance in teaching career
(Image courtesy: Thrive Global)

4. Time for yourself & your Hobbies

Building on the work life balance, a career in teaching also brings you a lot of time for your own self. Arunima – my friend (whose story I shared with you in the beginning) managed to teach herself how to meditate because of her flexible PhD schedules. She is a practising Kriya Yogi now (It is not easy to become one. It requires a lot of will power, discipline and dedication). (Read: How to Mediate & Increase Mindfulness: Everything You Need to Know)

I am not saying it is any less demanding but if done well, a PhD course can give you quality time to follow your hobbies – without compromising on the time and energy you devote to do quality work.

I know of a lot of research scholars who have come back for jobs in education sector after years of industry exposure and have pursued their deep seated hobbies – improving their art of painting, becoming illustrators, picking up their love for dancing (a friend went back to learning Kathak professionally), becoming fitness enthusiasts (a friend recently did a BRM i.e. BREVETS DE RANDONNEUR MONDIAUX, cycling rides of fixed distances that are to be completed within specified time limits) and many more.

Most of these scholars live on campuses away from the hustle bustle of cities and full of flora and fauna. These campuses are less polluted and more fresh & beautiful to the mind, body and soul. Most people who have spent that much time in a campus would find no appeal in cities and chaos anymore. They just come to love silence and peace more strongly than ever before.

5. Best of both worlds

It is a myth that academicians in higher education jobs know nothing about what’s going on in the industry. Those mediocre individuals who do not bother to update themselves with the latest trends would definitely disappoint their students. But I believe it’s an opportunity to learn about the best of both worlds.

Most professors come with industry experience and exposure. Plus, these institutes of higher education offer sabbaticals to work with industry, opportunities for consulting projects are galore and there are management and faculty development programs where the faculty can interact with the best of the industry and academia to upgrade their skills.

Thus, it not only saves you the instability of a corporate job (by getting you tenure if you simply meet the basic requirements) but also gets you in either circles.

All in all, I would say – there is great potential and opportunity in building a career in research and teaching (both undergrad and post grad) for both – professional and personal lives. It warrants a thought from you, if you think this career is the right fit for the life you envision for yourself. I know a lot of people prefer to go abroad for their doctorates. But India is catching up and bringing great opportunities behind those doors.

Do not just earn Money. Do something which gives you time to meet your own-self and live life fully. A career in teaching and research in India or abroad gives you a good chance to do that.

Check out a few more really exciting and upcoming career opportunities in India. 

If you have any queries (only genuine ones) about this, please feel free to comment below.

Rise & Shine

Akash Gautam

About Author

Akash Gautam is a Motivational Speaker & Corporate Trainer in India. Hundreds of Top Corporates like Google, CIPLA, Vodafone, McKinsey & Co., Maruti, HDFC, RIL, M&M & premier colleges like IIMs, IITs, SRCC etc go to him whenever they need a refreshing, big bang impact. Write to usWrite to us to know how he can transform your Team.

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