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Instructor vs. Lecturer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

When it comes to teaching, there are many different ways to share your knowledge with students. Two common teaching roles are that of an instructor and a lecturer. Though both of these positions involve educating others, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an instructor and a lecturer, and we provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in teaching.

What is an Instructor?

Instructors are responsible for teaching students in a specific subject area in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, colleges and universities, and in some cases, private tutoring or online instruction. They develop lesson plans, deliver lectures and lead classroom discussions. They also create and grade assignments, give feedback to students and monitor student progress. In addition to their teaching duties, Instructors may also be responsible for advising students, developing curriculum, conducting research and publishing scholarly papers.

What is a Lecturer?

Lecturers typically work in higher education institutions, presenting information to students in a formal setting. They develop and deliver lectures on a particular topic, often within their area of expertise. Lecturers also create course materials, such as syllabi, assignments and exams. They may also conduct research and publish their findings in academic journals. In addition to lecturing, Lecturers also grade student work and provide feedback to help them improve. Some Lecturers also advise students on their coursework and career paths.

Instructor vs. Lecturer

Here are the main differences between an instructor and a lecturer.

Job Duties

Instructors and lecturers share some of their job duties, but they also have distinct responsibilities. Instructors typically plan and execute classroom activities that help students develop skills and knowledge. They may design course curriculums and teach courses for a subject area.

Lecturers typically prepare class presentations, either as the only form of instruction or in combination with other instructional methods. They may instruct large groups of students and provide information that instructs students on course material. They may also grade student assignments and exams.

Job Requirements

Instructors and lecturers typically need at least a master’s degree in their field of expertise to enter the workforce. Some instructors, such as those who teach in community colleges, may only need a bachelor’s degree. However, most institutions prefer candidates who have a higher level of education. In addition to their academic credentials, instructors and lecturers must also be able to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise through teaching experience or other professional achievements.

Work Environment

Instructors and lecturers typically work in different environments. Instructors often work in classrooms, where they teach students about a particular subject or topic. Lecturers may also work in classrooms but are more likely to travel to multiple locations to give lectures on various topics.

Instructors usually have regular hours that they spend teaching their class. They may also be responsible for grading assignments and providing feedback to students. Lecturers may also have regular hours, depending on the type of lecture they’re giving. However, lecturers who travel to different locations may have irregular schedules as they travel between cities and states.


Both instructors and lecturers typically need to have excellent communication skills. This is important because they need to be able to deliver information clearly to their students. They also both need to be able to effectively manage a classroom, which requires strong organizational skills and the ability to maintain discipline.

Instructors usually work with smaller groups of students and have more interaction with them on a daily basis. Because of this, they may benefit from having stronger interpersonal skills than lecturers. They need to be able to build relationships with their students and understand their individual needs in order to provide the best possible instruction.

Lecturers typically present information to larger groups of students and have less interaction with them on a daily basis. As a result, they may not need to have as strong of interpersonal skills as instructors. However, they may need to have stronger research and writing skills in order to develop lectures that are engaging and informative.


The average salary for an instructor is $57,993 per year, while the average salary for a lecturer is $69,343 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the type of institution at which you work, your level of experience and your location.


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