Being an educator is one of our society’s most needed and noble callings. Helping other people learn, grow, and develop is a skill that’s always in demand. For people who love teaching but need a flexible schedule, or prefer to work at home, it can be difficult to follow that passion.
By becoming an online instructor, though, you can channel the power of the internet to let you teach and find meaningful work, and do so all on the web. With online universities, test prep academies, and real-world colleges and prep schools expanding into the digital space, there are more and more online teaching jobs that allow you to educate while you work from home.
In this article we’ll look at the digitization of the classroom, talk about the difference between online tutoring and online teaching, look at the training required to do this work, and share some job boards and companies that are hiring.
The Classroom Gone Digital
As policy makers try to figure out how to bring education to every corner of the world, one topic that keeps coming up is online learning.
The internet has already shown that it can work wonders for teacher development and solo learning. The digital age brought educators together from around the world to help each other get better through teacher training, sharing resources, and curriculum development.
In the field of solo learning, students with a good internet connection and a driven spirit can take online courses or research topics themselves with Wikipedia, online encyclopedias, coding courses, and textbooks shared open source for anyone around the world to use.
As internet speeds have improved, we’re no longer limited by just uploading and sharing resources. The rapid expansion of high-speed internet globally means that, with a secure connection and a webcam, a teacher in Omaha can work with a classroom of students in Beijing.
The idea of direct online teaching is a newer one, but it’s gaining traction. A proliferation of online universities and ESL programs has brought the classroom into the digital space, pairing teachers with classes of students elsewhere, or creating entire digital classrooms of students and teachers all working remotely. Skype, Google Hangouts, and other real-time video services mean that classrooms can be created anywhere, with anyone, and it’s all happening like it would in a real classroom.
As these fields expand, there are more and more opportunities for part-time and full-time work. There’s an especially high demand for people who can teach English online, especially for students in China, who are eager to learn the language and prize American instructors (and those from Canada).
The digital classroom means that qualified teachers can teach online in and outside the United States, work a more flexible schedule, and often teach right from home. The trick is knowing where to look for these jobs.
Difference Between Online Tutoring and Online Teaching
While searching for jobs in this field, it’s important to understand the distinction between online tutoring and online teaching, as they require different work and levels of training.
Online tutoring focuses on one-on-one instruction, and is often centered around test prep. Tutoring high school students for the SAT is a rapidly expanding business as it gets more competitive to get into top universities in the country. Factor in test prep for graduate degrees, such as the GMAT, LSAT, and GRE, and there is a massive business of online tutoring for people who want to give themselves the best chance to get into a top college or graduate program.
Online tutoring can also entail one-on-one help for specific subjects, or provide ESL training for people who can afford a private tutor. While the requirements for online tutors can vary depending on the company (some online tutoring companies demand that their instructors have a graduate degree), they tend to focus more on experience and specific knowledge of the test that you are preparing someone for.
Online teaching tends to focus on larger groups of students. This line of work can include designing online courses or teaching classes digitally, either by pre-recording video lectures or teaching online in real-time over video or in a shared work document. These jobs tend to require more formal training than online tutoring jobs.
Training Required for Online Teaching Jobs
Online teaching jobs have varied requirements based on the level of coursework that will be done.
Almost all online teaching jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, while others prefer a master’s degree or other graduate degree. If you are looking to become a full faculty member or adjunct faculty member at an online college, or teach an online class at a community college, there will likely be a requirement for a doctorate Ph.D. degree, or at the very least a master’s degree, to be considered for adjunct professor positions.
The one way around a higher education degree would be to look for work as an online English teacher, as some outlets will consider specialized ESL training with significant teaching experience as enough to qualify for a position.
Along with education requirements, many online outlets are looking for qualified teachers with relevant experience (whether that’s teaching in a K-12 setting or at the college level) or expertise in a specific subject matter (especially in ESL, though coding and AP prep experts are always needed as well).
On top of training, experience, and certification, online teachers will almost certainly need a reliable high-speed internet connection, as one’s ability to connect with the students is only as good as the ability to connect to the internet.
For teachers who are looking to apply to jobs where you speak to a class with real-time video, a computer with a strong video camera and the processing speed to handle real-time video will be a necessity. Some jobs will supply teachers with laptops, but most insist on you providing your own equipment.
Where to Look for Jobs
Many online job boards will have positions listed for online teaching opportunities, from Monster.com to Jobs.com to even Craigslist.
If you are looking for a job that is specifically for remote, work-from-home opportunities, check out FlexJobs, which specializes in jobs that can be done virtually. FlexJobs lets you search through job titles, look at for-profit and nonprofit jobs, review job postings, and set job alerts, all things that will make your job search for an online teaching opportunity painless.
The job board allows you to set if you are looking for part-time or full-time work as well, which is helpful when evaluating positions. (Part-time searches can yield lots of results for remote work as a classroom assistant or technology specialist in public school systems, universities, private high schools, and more.)
There are also several companies that specialize in online teaching and are often posting jobs for qualified teachers.
VIPKID is a large online teaching community which pairs English-speaking teachers from around the world with students in China predominantly. There is a massive market for English and other language training in China, and VIPKID allows online teachers to work flexible hours, teach as much as they’d like, and bring in extra income.
Verbling pairs language learners with specialized instructors who engage via video chat. Classes can be taught on a one-on-one basis, which is more in line with tutoring, though businesses can also sign up groups of students for language learning.
Teach Away is a company that specializes in pairing teachers with jobs around the world. Some of these are in-person jobs, but they also have a host of digital jobs available, including several with DaDa, a Beijing-based company that pairs students in China aged 4–16 with English-speaking teachers.
Work at Home and Teach
Online education is an ever-growing field that pairs qualified teachers with students from around the world. English language learners especially are eager to find resources online that let them master the language, and there are more and more job opportunities available for qualified teachers. If you are limited to home work, prefer a flexible schedule, and still want to impact people on their quest for betterment, online teaching may be a great way to make that happen.