How To Be An Online Teacher

In today’s world, you can do pretty much anything online: order groceries, buy a civil war musket, find your soulmate - so why wouldn’t education be something you can access at your fingertips? As the demand is increasing for online classes, more and more teachers are learning how to make the transition to the Information Age. So, how do you bridge this gap? Are the requirements the same for being certified to teach in a traditional classroom setting? Let’s find out. 

Training and Certification

Training and certification depends on what level you plan to teach. For the most part, certification requirements for online teachers are identical to those for classroom instructors. Anyone wanting to teach elementary, middle, or secondary students must earn a bachelor’s degree (normally in a field related directly to the topic they plan to teach) as well as obtain a relevant teaching certificate from the state. 

While those teaching college online are not required to undergo any certification process, they are expected to have either a higher degree (master’s or doctorate) or experience in the field. All online teachers will need to take part in technology training provided by their schools.

Where to Find Positions

At the moment, K-12 online teaching positions are not as widespread as those on the college level, but there are some grade school programs that are entirely or in part online. Many of these can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website. 

As for college online instructors, there are countless positions out there, many of which are adjunct so that teachers can work remotely without taking on a full workload. These positions are posted on each university’s website or on community job boards. 


Students are typically made aware of all assignments at the beginning of an online course, so their due dates can often be rigid. This allows students to be able to work at their own pace, without having to physically meet each week. So, it’s important that online instructors maintain regular communication with their students to make sure that they are on top of their assignments and that they understand the material being taught. Teachers must also be sure to grade and return assignments as soon as their are able so that students will be able to continue with their independent study of the coursework.

Tips for Online Instructors

  • Enroll in an online class before teaching on, so that you can experience it firsthand.
  • Make yourself available for communication with your students as often as your schedule allows.
  • Set clear rules and guidelines for the structure of your class.
  • Give feedback in a timely manner.
  • Make sure that your tone is coming across the way you intend for it to, as written language is different from speech.
  • Show your students your specific expectations for each assignment.
  • Demonstrate flexibility.
  • Make sure you are still asking questions of your students, as in the online platform it can be tempting to simply provide them with the answers.
  • Give your students opportunities to evaluate the course (and take their feedback into consideration when planning).

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