How to Become a College Professor Online

Nov 26, 2019

College professors teach post-secondary students a wide range of subjects. Read on to learn more about the career including salary, requirements and online steps.

Introduction to Being a College Professor

College professors teach any number of subjects from the specific to the broad (everything from math and physics to Russian literature and the social effects of Star Wars on pop culture) in online or in-person lectures. There are opportunities out there for both brick and mortar institutions and online professorships, and most of the steps to become a professor can be completed online. The table below offers a brief overview of the career including required skills, salaries and projected job growth.

Required skills Pedagogical skills, basic computer skills, effective communication
Job Growth* 11%
Median Salary* $78,470 per year

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a College Professor Online

Those who wish to pursue careers as college professors can get some of the education and experience they need online. However, most programs will require some in-classroom teaching experience or real-world experience working in the field in which they teach.

Step 1. Education

The first step in the journey to becoming a college professor is to obtain the requisite education. To teach at the postsecondary level, most professors need a doctorate, though some community colleges may accept candidates with a master's degree. Students can get these degrees at fully online universities. However, many master's and Ph.D. programs require internships or real-world teaching experiences that cannot be completed online. Doctor of Education programs typically prepare students for leadership roles and include coursework in empirical methods, evaluating educational programs, and leading organizational change. Ph.D. programs in education are designed more for research and teaching positions; they offer coursework in topics like human development, digital learning environments and classroom interactions.

Step 2. Get Licenced

Professors who instruct students in subjects where a professional license is required may be required to have that license to teach. For instance, a professor who teaches nursing at the postsecondary level may be required to hold a nursing license. In the same vein, postsecondary teachers who teach a field in which certifications are available may benefit from being certified in their field. Certification may not be required but it might help professors land a job in a competitive field. Some certifications and licenses can be obtained online. However, many may ask candidates to sit for exams and these are typically done on-site.

Step 3. Publish Scholarly Works

One of the deciding factors that make a curriculum vitae stand out is the candidate's scholarly publications. To get published in these types of publications, the candidate must pick a topic of interest, participate in research (whether it is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method in nature), and write coherently. The more publications that a person has on his or her resume, the better.

Step 4. Apply for Jobs

There is a formal process for applying for professorships. Most are online applications and must be offered to all qualified candidates. However, networking is often key in academia. Therefore, those who wish to pursue a career in academia will want to attend as many symposiums, lectures, and academic ventures as they can. Some of these may be available online, though many will not be.

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