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Online Teacher: Education Requirements, Duties & Salary Info

Online teachers lecture, prepare curricula, administer coursework, and integrate distance-learning technology into their digital classrooms. Educational requirements to teach online might include bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees, depending on the grade level taught.

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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 (www.bls.gov). 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.

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 (www.bergen.edu). 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 (www.sou.edu). The pay for teaching an online course at Southern New Hampshire University, as of November 2013, was $2,200 for an 8-week undergraduate course and $2,500 for an 11-week graduate course (www.snhu.edu). 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 in November 2013 (www.ltu.edu).

Although industry-wide salary averages for online teacher's aren't readily available, the annual median salaries for elementary school, middle school, and secondary school teachers were $53,400, $53,430, and $55,050, respectively, based on May 2012 BLS statistics. The BLS specifies the salary data available for postsecondary teachers by categorizing by field. The overall median salary earned by all types of teachers at postsecondary schools was reported as $62,050 in 2010 by the BLS. The field of specialty can greatly influence the salary earned. For example, the BLS reported in 2012 that while postsecondary education teachers earned a median of $59,350, law teachers earned a median of $99,950. In 2010, roughly 29% of postsecondary teachers worked on a part-time basis.

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