Online Teachers: Requirements to Teach Online Classes

Published Oct 29, 2009

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Online teachers' requirements vary by specific hiring organization. An instructor interested in teaching online classes at colleges and universities may need a master's or doctoral degree, while a virtual tutor may only need a bachelor's degree and a valid teacher certification.

Online Teacher Career Summary

Online teachers record lectures, post class notes and use technological media, including virtual discussion boards, e-mail and chat. Most online teaching positions are extremely flexible and are typically offered on a part-time basis. The Sloan Consortium,, an organization dedicated to distance learning programs, indicates that the growth in online postsecondary enrollment increased from 1.6 million in 2002 to 3.94 million in 2007; however, online instructors are not confined to traditional postsecondary institutions and Web-based colleges. Online teachers are needed for adult education and non-profit programs, such as GED and ESL instruction. Virtual tutoring companies and middle and high schools also employ online educators.

Education Required to Become an Online Teacher

Individuals desiring to teach online at the college level generally need a relevant master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution, depending on the field of study. Online secondary instructors typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education or a subject-specific field. Adult education instructors and tutors are generally only required to possess a 4-year degree. Tutoring programs for graduate exam preparation may require instructors to hold a master's degree.

Job Training and Certifications Required to Become an Online Teacher

Future online teachers can start by gaining experience teaching in traditional settings or acquiring practical experience in their field. Voluntary e-learning and online teaching certifications are available at accredited colleges, and some institutions even provide their faculty with this training. Private middle schools and high schools as well as tutoring organizations may require their instructors to have valid teaching certifications, which vary by state.

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