What does this career entail?
Basically, three things: teaching, research, and academic administration and management.
A key part of any lecturer's job is to teach undergraduate students (and often postgraduate students as well). This includes giving several lectures every week and running tutorial classes and other activities such as computing workshops. Most of these lectures and other classes are one hour long. Usually a statistics lecturer teaches students specialising in statistics and also students studying statistics as an important supporting subject in other disciplines (such as biology, medicine, engineering and psychology). Some of the classes might be very large - up to around 100, or even more - particularly for introductory material. On the other hand, final year specialist classes are much smaller, often only about 10 or 20 students.
Lecturers have to prepare the material that they are going to teach. This includes writing lecture notes, preparing examples to work through in class and preparing coursework exercises for the students to attempt out of class. Suitable textbooks have to be identified. Examinations have to be set, and marked. Syllabuses need to be kept under review and updated, and sometimes completely new courses are set up.
All in all, university lecturers are responsible for every aspect of their courses - design, content, delivery and assessment. There will of course be overall policy laid down by the university, and approval of a Board of Studies will be needed for all the syllabuses and all the assessments. But in most ways a university lecturer has much more autonomy than, say, a school teacher in the details of what is taught and how, and perhaps in making use of innovative forms of teaching and assessment. Motivating different groups of students studying many different subjects is a real challenge. Another challenge is in developing teaching styles that are suitable for large classes and other teaching styles that are suitable for much smaller classes. Different approaches to teaching are therefore needed all the time, but the development of them is a worthwhile and rewarding activity.
All this requires lecturers to have excellent knowledge of their subject, but also an enthusiasm for it coupled with good communication and presentation skills, both orally and in writing.
Most lecturers also pursue independent research in some areas of statistics. Sometimes they work in research teams which often focus on particular major problems, contributing to the overall work of the team as well as advancing their own knowledge. Sometimes they work individually on problems that are of special interest to themselves. Often they supervise research (PhD) students or postdoctoral research assistants.
They give presentations about their research at seminars and conferences, and write about it in university Technical Reports and in the academic and professional journals that cover their areas. Again, excellence of knowledge, enthusiasm and good communication and presentation skills are very much to the fore.
Another aspect of communication skills is that lecturers often need to seek funding for their research projects. So they have to make compelling cases for the award of grants within their universities or from the Research Councils or often from industrial sponsors. This can take quite a bit of time - but can be very satisfying when a large cheque comes!
Lecturers are also expected to undertake some administrative duties within their departments. There are committees to attend, such as the course Boards of Studies and Examining Boards. Many lecturers carry out other important duties, such as being an Admissions Tutor or a Course Director, and thus contribute to the management of their departments. Some take this further and get involved in university management more widely, perhaps by being appointed to university-wide committees. It is usual to arrange that new lecturers have only minimal administrative responsibilities while they are in the early stages of building up their teaching and research careers, but many lecturers enjoy the step into administrative responsibilities a little later on.
An important further duty, and certainly not merely an administrative one, is the mentoring and guidance of students by acting as a personal tutor. All lecturers do this, though again perhaps only minimally at first. After a while, a lecturer might have a dozen or more undergraduate students as personal tutees, and perhaps some postgraduate students as well. Close and rewarding professional relationships are often built up.
Statistics departments at some universities provide a statistical advisory service, giving advice (usually free) to all students and staff within the university. Often these advisory services also provide consultancy services to external organisations (not free in this case!). Departments that provide these services will encourage their lecturers to participate, perhaps by devoting half a day each week to them. Lots of interesting problems come up in this way, which can readily develop into full-scale research projects.
Lecturers are also usually permitted to undertake some consultancy work of their own for organisations external to the university. There will be university rules about this, because it obviously must not interfere too much with normal work, but in general universities encourage their staff to develop themselves in this way.
Another aspect of being a lecturer, related to external consultancy, is that many lecturers at a more senior stage of their careers become external examiners at other universities. All universities have external examiners in this way. Their job is to ensure broad comparability of academic standards between universities, and to share experiences and good practice. It is professionally very rewarding and stimulating to be an external examiner; lecturers who achieve this usually enjoy it greatly.
So, if you thought that a career as a university lecturer involves just teaching, think again! It involves a great deal more. It truly has the potential to provide new and challenging things every day.