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Online Teachers: Employment Info & Qualifications

Online teachers provide instruction though distance-learning courses available in a wide variety of subjects. Read on to learn more about the requirements and benefits of becoming an online teacher.

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  • General Instructional Media Design

Career Definition for an Online Teacher

Online teachers may teach and/or design and prepare the curriculum and content of classes offered through web-based programs. Most are employed by colleges or universities, but a growing number of opportunities are opening up in private education resource centers and career network websites. The number of topics that can be taught online is almost limitless, so there are possibilities for teachers in many different disciplines.

Education Typically requires a master's degree and classroom teaching experience
Job Skills Knowledge of online tools for publishing, writing and grammar skills
Median Salary (2015)* $72,470 (for postsecondary teachers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 13% (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Postsecondary online teachers need at least a master's degree in the subject they are teaching. Most also are expected to have experience in classroom teaching before they can teach online. Private establishments, however, may not require anything more than expertise in the area the online teacher will be covering. Online teachers are typically working professionals who supplement their income by teaching college courses or professional development classes such as resume writing, editing, or Photoshop.

Required Skills

Instructors who teach online courses must be able to adapt materials for this format by using tools such as Macromedia Captive, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, and others. Since they sometimes help write and edit the content of the course material, online teachers need superb writing, grammar, and proofreading skills, as well as strong written communication skills and a working knowledge of online resources.

Career and Economic Outlook

The Sloan Survey of Online Learning reported that the number of students enrolled in at least one online class has exceeded 6.7 million (www.sloanconsortium.org). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for teachers at the post-secondary level is expected to increase by 13% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary of post-secondary teachers of all types was $72,470 in May 2015, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Postsecondary Education Administrator

With at least a master's degree and some experience working in the field, these professionals can seek employment overseeing such areas as faculty research, student services and academics, depending on their area of expertise. From 2014-2024, the BLS expected demand for these professionals to increase by 9%, which was faster than the average for all occupations at that time. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $88,580 for these administrators in 2015.

Career and Technical Education Teacher

These teachers normally have at least a bachelor's degree and experience in their chosen area of instruction, including vocational and technical subjects such as culinary arts, healthcare and auto repair. Average employment growth of 4% was predicted by the BLS for career and technical education teachers from 2014-2024, and the BLS noted that the median annual wage in 2015 was $52,800.


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