Professional positions

Even if atypical paths exist, the ideal academic career is perceived as being a succession of university positions leading from the assistantship to the higher intermediary staff, and then professorial posts.

Intermediate posts between assistantship and professorship consist of a multitude of functions in the hierarchy. The nomenclature may vary from one institution to another and less well-known posts than those mentioned below exist.

The best way to get a clear idea of the situation is to visit the websites of different universities.

Intermediary staff include the following main posts :

Apart from senior lecturers, these are fixed-term posts and their renewal is limited. Conditions of employment and working conditions differ from one institution to another.

Professorial staff include the following main posts :

Full professor and associate professor posts are permanent. Contracts nearing expiry are generally renewed after evaluation of the activity of the person occupying the post.

In addition to these functions, there are other posts linked with research at universities and EPFL. These are for example junior or senior SNSF researchers and external scientific staff. These posts are often financed by external funds (the SNSF for example) and the conditions and rules of the sponsor are followed. There can therefore be different conditions of employment for two similar academic posts.

These different positions, for which the conditions and term of the appointment, remuneration, working conditions and possibilities of academic career promotion differ from one institution to another, do not all offer the same possibilities of fulfilling the formal and informal criteria necessary for climbing the ladder towards the professorship.

It’s thus advisable for those embarking on an academic career to carefully evaluate the conditions offered by each post : distribution between research, teaching and administrative tasks, duration of the appointment, possibility and conditions regarding contract renewal, etc. The number of hours according to the employment contract also plays a very important role.