Once a philosopher said, “Happiness is a state of mind”, so it totally depends on you, but here is my take at it:
I enjoy the freedom of research that a faculty job brings. If I decide to start a research direction on topic X, I can immediately hire some students to work on the topic and start publishing and writing proposals without coordinating with the department chair or anyone else.
I enjoy the flexible hours, I do not like 8 am to 5pm jobs. If I am busy I stay after 5 pm and work on weekends but if I am done early I will leave at 10:00 am (you will be quite busy the first few years)
I get 4 months in summer to myself without any classes. While as a tenure track faculty you are expected to do research, you are not obliged to be on campus. You can take a month off without coordinating with anyone.
You can get a faculty position with only a master’s degree as a lecturer or instructor. If you have significant industry experience, you can be a professor of practice. (Refer to terminology)
For some research schools, it is a must, the committee will not look at your application if you don’t have a post doc experience and for teaching positions, the committee could not care less. While, doing a post doc is always a plus, doing postdoc for more than three years negatively impact your application. If you have been to multiple research groups during your master’s and PhD studies and have mentoring experience, you can find a faculty position without a post doc.
It varies significantly from one department to another. As an example, for an assistant professor in engineering, the starting annual salary is $80,000 to $95,000 on a nine month contract. You can get summer salary through external funding. The maximum summer salary you can give yourself is 1/3 of your annual salary. You can also supplement your academic year salary to 20 % if you get industry projects. Government agencies like NSF/DOE/DOD do not like more than 2 months summer salary. The lecturer salary range is much wider, it varies from $40,000 to $80,000 depending on the department and school.
A faculty with full teaching load teaches four classes per semester. If you are in teaching schools and have research responsibilities, you will get one teaching release and you will be on 3 course per semester teaching load. If you are in R2 research schools, that will drop to 2 per semester and in R1, you will have one course per semester. Faculties can buy out a course with research money and teach no classes for a semester or a year.
For every tenure track position, we get around 100 applicants, 50 of which are unqualified for the position, so there are 50 serious candidates and one will get the job, so the changes are 2 %. I would recommend to apply to at least 50 positions to land a job. But make sure you are applying to relevant positions. Do not waste your time applying to a position that require expertise beyond your experience.
Preparing your application is a time consuming process. You need to spend your time wisely. I recommend applying to positions that you have a high chance of getting an interview. Read the requirements carefully, if you do not meet one of the required qualifications, I assure you, there will be 50 other candidates who do. Focus on the ones that exactly match your experience. Find the top 10 positions each month and apply to them that would be your weekend task for the next six months.
The position needs to be approved by all the administrators before posted. Research schools start posting their positions in early September for the next academic year and the number of open positions reaches its peak in October and November. In smaller schools or for teaching positions, positions are posted sometimes as late as May or June. But your best bet is to have your application ready by August so you don’t miss any opportunities.
In contrary to the common myth that once you get a teaching position, you will always be at a teaching institute, you can definitely switch to tenure track if you could show a continued record of publications. You are considered active in research if you publish two journal publications each year regardless of the title of your position.
While candidates are not judged based on their immigration status but if you need an H1B to start your job, you might be removed from the list as acquiring H1B requires time for the department. Departments would like to hire you while you are on your OPT or OPT extension and apply for H1B after one semester. As academic institutions are capped exempt, you will most probably get your H1B without any problem.
Each school has their own rule for the green card process, but they usually apply for EB2 green card if you are on a tenure track and apply only for H1B if you hold a lecturer position. Lecturer position is not considered permanent position from the immigration point of view.