Online Instructors: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an online instructor. Learn about teaching options, education required and potential salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Instructional Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Online Instructor?

Online instructors perform the same duties as a teacher; however, they teach their class online and do not meet with their students in person. The Internet and computers are utilized to create virtual classrooms. Tests and assignments are also administered online. Online instructors may teach any of the typical subjects offered in a school or university setting. Those who teach at the postsecondary level will need a master's or doctoral degree, and online teaching certification may also be required. These instructors may work from an office, must have strong computer skills, and must be familiar with virtual teaching software.

Degree Required Master's degree; doctoral degree
Key Responsibilities Create online classroom and syllabus; manage classes; post assignments
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13%* (all postsecondary teachers)
Average Annual Salary (2015) $71,060* (all postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Learn to Become an Online Instructor?

If you're interested in entering the virtual classroom as a teacher, your best course of action may be to earn a certificate as an online instructor. Many universities offer online certificate programs for those who want to teach in an online community. If you want to teach for a university, you'll need to have a postgraduate degree, preferably at the doctoral level. However, some colleges may accept applicants with only a master's degree.

For university professors, online instructor programs enhance the skills they already possess. In these certificate programs, you'll learn the difference between teaching students in a classroom and teaching students in a virtual setting. You'll learn how to build an online classroom and syllabus, manage a class, understand the psychology of online students, post online activities and assess students' abilities. You'll also study how to work within virtual teaching platforms like Angel or Blackboard.

What Can I Teach?

The level of education you've received and what you're interested in teaching will determine your options. Most accredited colleges and full-time positions require professors to obtain a master's or doctoral degree. Most high schools require you to major in education; in a university setting, especially in a virtual classroom, you'll need to be a master of the subject you're teaching, like English, history, Egyptology, economics or computer science. Consider what your specialty is and how you can facilitate the learning of others.

How Much Can I Make?

Depending on the university you work for, the level of education you have and your teaching specialty, your salary will differ. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary for a postsecondary teacher was $71,060 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). This figure does not take into account online instructors, since many professors teach both online and on-campus. Depending on your location and the subject you teach, these numbers also change. The three top-paying subjects for teachers in 2015 were law, engineering and economics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

High school teachers perform many tasks that are comparable to the work of an online instructor. They develop lesson plans, teach classes and use tests and assignments to assess the progress of their students. They need a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate. Postsecondary education administrators need a master's degree. They provide student services, and they may also be involved with online students. Career and technical education teachers need a bachelor's degree, and focus on instructing students in vocational classes or trades. They perform some of the same tasks as instructors. Career and technical education teachers need to develop lesson plans, hold classes to cover the curriculum with their students, and they also use assignments and tests to evaluate student performance.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

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    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

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  • Northcentral University

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  • Full Sail University

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    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    • Master

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  • Colorado State University Global

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    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master

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  • Purdue University Global

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    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

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    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Trident University

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    Popular programs at Trident University:

    • Master

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