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Are you considering a career change to online teaching? Perhaps you're ready to move on from the corporate world and are interested in sharing your knowledge and real-world experience via a second career of teaching. Maybe you are already a teacher and are interested in making a change from the traditional classroom to a more flexible virtual teaching environment. So what do you need to know about how to become an online teacher?
About online teaching qualifications
Teachers who work in the virtual classroom generally must have the same credentials as those who work in the traditional school environment. While teacher qualification rules vary to some degree from one state to another, for those interested in becoming an online instructor for elementary or high-school students, that generally means that you must have a bachelor's degree and a teaching license or certificate. To teach virtually at the college level, a master's degree and a license or certificate is typically required.
If you are not yet a qualified teacher, but have a bachelor's degree in another discipline, there are a few options for meeting the educational requirements that make you eligible for a teaching license or certificate. Traditional post-baccalaureate or master's level programs can offer you the opportunity to become a qualified educator without having to start fresh in a bachelor's program. These can be found in many colleges and universities, as well as online.
Alternative teacher certification programs are another option. These are offered in many states, and are typically geared towards candidates who already have an undergraduate degree in the subject area they are interested in teaching, as well as work experience in that field. These programs work, through intensive training and mentoring, to help these candidates master the teaching skills they need to pass their real-world knowledge and expertise on to their students. These are offered by a variety of organizations, including non-profit groups and some colleges, or may be programs initiated by individual states to fill teacher vacancies to bring highly-educated professionals into their educational systems.
Beyond basic qualifications
Whether you have been teaching for years in a traditional school setting or are just entering the field from another profession, becoming an online instructor will bring significant change in your average work day and overall workplace routines. Many of those changes will be for the better, such as greater freedom and flexibility in your schedule, the opportunity to work with students from all over the world, and since teaching positions are virtual, the ability to apply to institutions in various locations without relocation worries.
However, all that freedom and flexibility also means that you will not have standard business hours or any imposed workplace structure. To be successful you will need to provide that day-to-day structure for yourself, which means you need to be a self-starter – organized, self-disciplined and skilled at time management. Additionally, online teaching is quite different than standard classroom instruction, which means that teaching and student engagement strategies must be different as well. For these reasons, both current and prospective teachers may want to consider taking specific classes on online teaching methods, strategies and technology to ensure the ability to build an optimal virtual learning environment for their students, as well as a successful new career for themselves.
Becoming a successful instructor in online education requires a set of skills that brings out the best in the students and the instructor. The Continuing Education department at Bryant & Stratton College creates the framework to succeed in online collegiate settings.