Online Economics Instructor: Career and Education Information

Online economics instructor requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree, job duties and qualifications to see if this is the right career for you.

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Aspiring online economics instructors should view the opportunity like any other instructor. Online education is expanding and the quality is constantly improving. Professionals should know that expectations, requirements and benefits are on par with classroom instructors.

Essential Information

Becoming an economics instructor in a college or university entails obtaining a master's degree in economics. Online economics instructors have the same qualifications as teachers who work in traditional, classroom-based settings. Individuals interested in this area need to first obtain the necessary degrees and then apply for positions at schools with online programs.

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements PhD may be required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 13%*
Median Salary (2015) $94,000*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Information for a Career as an Online Economics Instructor

People applying for jobs as any kind of college instructor usually need to have a master's degree in the area in which they wish to teach. While there are some exceptions to this rule, it is usually true for economics instructors. In order to teach at a 4-year university, a Ph.D. is often required. Private non-profit and public colleges and universities usually have the same educational requirements for their faculty members, whether they conduct classes online or in the classroom.

Obtaining a Master's Degree in Economics

For individuals interested in teaching at the community college level, a master's degree in economics is often sufficient. This degree takes 2-3 years to complete and, depending on the program, involves a thesis in a specific area of economics to be determined by the student and an advisor. After completing the program, the individual is qualified to teach at a 2-year college. A teaching assistantship, completed while the student is still in school, is very helpful in giving job candidates some experience, increasing their chances of being hired.

Obtaining a Ph.D. in Economics

Universities and 4-year colleges usually require their instructors to have a Ph.D. in economics. Typically a 5-year program, a Ph.D. degree often includes a master's degree, which is completed within the first two years of study. During the second two years of school, the student takes classes and often teaches as well; the final year is designed to allow the student time to complete a dissertation--a long (usually book-length) document on an area of economics, which will shed light on some as-yet unrevealed aspect of the discipline. The dissertation portion of the program can take up to seven years. Individuals who have completed a Ph.D. are very attractive to both 2-and 4-year colleges for obvious reasons; they have teaching experience and have studied the field in-depth.

Career Information for Online Economics Instructors

More and more established colleges are offering classes online for a variety of reasons: the affordability to students, affordability to the colleges, access to classes for students who work and simply the ubiquitous nature of the Internet. For-profit schools that have multiple campuses are likely to hire online instructors in order to keep costs down. However, traditional schools starting to offer online economics courses are also an option.

Career Outlook for Online Economics Instructors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual wage of $94,000 for postsecondary economics instructors in 2015. Colleges, professional schools and universities were reported to pay significantly more - an average of $113,300 per year - than junior colleges, which paid an annual mean wage of $75,910. The BLS predicts a 13% job growth for economics instructors between 2014 and 2024.

Online economics instructors should consider their job comparable to a classroom instructor with the same academic credentials and subject matter quality. The job is expected to have a high growth rate because there are an increasing number of online courses available. Aspiring instructors should count on earning a master's for any community college and a Ph.D. for 4 year colleges.

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