Online Teacher: Education Requirements, Duties & Salary Info

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

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A job as online teacher sounds comforting because you work from home, but the effort you put into it may be more demanding than that of a classroom teacher. Besides from the usual teacher duties, you will also have to engage in a number of online tasks, such as emailing, creating presentations, and making online content easy to read. Education for an online teacher is roughly equivalent to that of an in-person instructor.

Essential Information

Online teachers lecture, prepare curricula, administer coursework, and integrate distance-learning technology into their digital classrooms. These educators combine traditional teaching methods and technology to instruct students at all grade levels, from kindergarten through college. Educational requirements to teach online might include bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees, depending on the grade level taught.

Required Education Bachelor's degree (K-12)
Master's or doctoral degree (postsecondary)
Other Requirements State teaching license
Courses in online instruction
Projected Job Growth* (2012-2024) Kindergarten-middle school: 6%
High school: 6%
Postsecondary: 13%
(all teachers)
Median Salary* (2015) K-12 salary range: $54,550 - $57,200
Postsecondary: $72,470
(all teachers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Online Teachers

Educational requirements for teachers working at online schools typically mirror requirements of teachers working at traditional brick-and-mortar buildings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all teachers working at public schools who teach grades K-12 must meet state licensure requirements ( Requirements for a regular teaching license include completing a bachelor's degree program, taking a state-approved teacher preparation program, and obtaining state licensure. Teaching positions at the postsecondary level usually require a master's or doctoral degree in the subject area taught. Additionally, many online educational institutions require teachers to take classes to better understand the methodology and technology used to teach online courses.

Online Teacher Job Duties

Online teachers are trained educators who typically specialize in teaching students at a particular grade level between kindergarten and college. Besides creating a curriculum, assigning homework, and setting up quizzes, online teachers have the additional challenge of organizing and tailoring their coursework to make it accessible and visually compelling to students accessing course materials remotely. As part of the process, they often combine traditional learning tools, such as books and handouts, with online tools, such as message boards, chat rooms, videos, and online media presentations.

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  • General Instructional Media Design

Salary Information for Online Teaching Positions

Educational institutions offering online courses often compensate online teachers based on their course loads and online teaching experience. For example, Bergen Community College in New Jersey provides three levels of training and compensation, based on online teaching experience ( Full-time faculty members who teach online courses at Southern Oregon University are compensated at standard rates, but they receive additional pay when teaching online courses causes them to exceed their normal course loads ( The pay for teaching most online courses at Southern New Hampshire University, as of 2015, was $2,200 for a 9-week undergraduate course and $2,500 for a 10-week graduate course ( Online teachers employed by Lawrence Tech in Michigan, whether as full-time faculty or adjunct instructors, received $3,000 per course, according to data obtained as of 2015 (

Although industry-wide salary averages for online teachers aren't readily available, the annual median salaries for elementary school, middle school, and secondary school teachers were $54,550, $55,860, and $57,200, respectively, based on May 2015 BLS statistics. The BLS specifies the salary data available for postsecondary teachers by categorizing by field. For example, the BLS reported in 2015 that postsecondary education teachers earned a median of $72,470, while law teachers earned a median of $105,250.

An online teacher has the same responsibilities as a regular teacher, in addition to using computer skills for online content such as discussion boards, videos, and presentations. Education requirements for online teachers generally are the same as for teachers at traditional schools. Online teachers make around the same salary as regular teachers, but may receive slightly extra compensation if they perform extra teaching duties.

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