A Guide to Teaching at Online Colleges

Know the Requirements.
If you are currently a high school teacher who has a bachelor’s degree and credential, you will not be eligible to teach a college course at a reputable online school. Since schools need to keep their accreditation (and because so many educators do have advanced degrees), a Master’s Degree is usually necessary. Even better, is a Doctoral Degree. In fact, with a graduate degree, you may find that you can only get a job teaching lower level courses, like those at a junior or community college. Additionally, you need to have good computer skills. If you have resisted the fast-paced world of computers and the internet, then online teaching is not for you.

Most online schools prefer instructors with real world experience. Along with appropriate degrees, you will be a better candidate if you work in the field you want to teach in. For example, do not apply to be a business instructor if you do not work in the business world. Most schools hire instructors to work part time, in hopes that their instructors are employed full time in their prospective industry. Make sure your resume reflects all of your real-world experience. You also need some teaching experience, and any work that proves you are good on computers is a huge plus!

During the application and interview process, keep your expectations in check. You will not land a full-time teaching gig that will pay your mortgage. Additionally, the time between applying, hiring, training and an actual paycheck can be months (even a year!), so do not expect quick money. Furthermore, you may have to partake in unpaid training and there is a learning curve if you have not taught online before. Some schools have been known to hire and train instructors only to drop them rather quickly because the need just is not there; other schools have a long wait before you will actually teach a course. Be prepared to be open-minded, easy going and professional. Think of the job as extra money and experience, not a primary paycheck.

Application and Interview
If you are serious about landing an online position, you will want to apply at every school you can. The field is very competitiv and often it is more about applying at the right moment, than anything else. Keep in mind that some schools are 100% online, while others have brick and mortar campuses. Additionally, many normal colleges are now offering online programs. Landing one online position can open up the doors to others in the future, as you will have online teaching experience (something not all college instructors can claim).
The easiest way to find out who is hiring is to make a list of every online college you come across, then go to each website and start applying. Keep detailed records and have lots of patience, as the process is typically a long one. Most schools will have steps where you complete online interviews or write short essays about your field, before you make it to an actual phone interview. Once you get to the phone interview, be prepared. Know the school you are applying to. You want to know how they operate, how long their courses run, what they offer to students and how you can fit in the big picture. Write down all the questions you have to get them cleared up at the interview and to show your genuine interest. Online schools like instructors who sound professional on the phone and in writing, as it is important to student interaction. The best advice is to be positive, open-minded, and excited during the interview process. Afterwards, send a quick email to your interviewer restating your interest and what you bring to their school. Hopefully you will hear back from them and be on your way to an online teaching job. Good luck!