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How to Become an Online Adjunct Teacher

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an online adjunct teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as the details about degree programs and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Most online adjunct instructors work part time and should be familiar with online education technology. Online teachers prepare lessons, teach, facilitate online discussions and evaluate student performance. To become an online adjunct teacher, one must earn at least a master's degree, have one year experience teaching and, in most cases, will also need a teaching certificate. Those who wish to supplement their income teaching online courses without leaving home will find this career interesting.

Required Education Master's or doctoral degree
Other Requirements State teacher licensure and certification
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 19%
Average Salary (2014)* $73,720

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Adjunct faculty members are postsecondary teachers who work part-time, often while also holding down a primary career outside of academia. Some adjunct teachers are allowed to teach entire courses online. The first step for those looking to get started in the field is to earn a bachelor's degree in the subject they wish to teach. As becoming an adjunct faculty member nearly always requires graduate education, it is important to maintain both excellent grades and good relations with one's teachers while in undergraduate school. Applying to graduate schools will require recommendations from faculty, so beginning these relationships early may benefit students.

Step 2: Earn a Graduate Degree

Entering graduate school in the teaching field will generally be necessary for those wishing to become online adjunct faculty. Completing a graduate degree program is by no means easy, and requires a commitment of time and money. Many schools will only hire adjunct faculty members who have completed at least a master's degree program.

Some schools will require that applicants also either have completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program or at least have completed the coursework requirements, often referred to as ABD for 'all but dissertation.' In order to have as full a range of employment opportunities, interested students should consider enrolling in a Ph.D. program. In addition to developing professional expertise in subject matter, these programs may also give some students a chance to assist in teaching, or even teach their own classes.

Step 3: Seek Mentoring as a Teaching Assistant

Both during and after graduate programs, teachers should take opportunities to gain teaching experience. Many graduate programs will provide opportunities for students to work alongside professors as teaching assistants. This process of mentorship is where postsecondary teachers learn to teach, develop their own teaching styles and figure out how to integrate their knowledge into a classroom setting.

Step 4: Develop Teaching Experience

For those who have completed their programs, the next step is finding teaching positions that will grant work experience and a chance to develop a personal teaching philosophy. Many postsecondary teachers teach face-to-face in traditional classrooms before they branch out into online teaching. Classroom management is a transferable skill, as is about understanding students' needs as they work toward their educational goals.

Step 5: Transition to Online Teaching

New technologies are spurring an increase in coursework that is taught online. This is creating opportunities for online adjunct instructors. Like other adjuncts, these instructors are generally considered part-time employees who do not receive benefits, and may work another job or take positions with multiple institutions. Online teaching removes the need to find schools within the same geographical area and allows instructors to avoid commuting costs.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for postsecondary teachers, including online adjunct teachers, will increase 19% from 2012-2022 ( Pay can vary by subject taught. Those teaching art, music and drama earned a median salary of $75,350 in 2014, according to the BLS, and those teaching history earned a median salary of $73,720.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics