Q&A: What Do You Need to Do to Become an Online Teacher?

Answer: Online teachers need the same credentials and education that all teachers need. For children and adolescents who attend school online, teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in education. They must also have a teaching certificate from the state they live in and/or are teaching in.

Teachers who teach kindergarten through sixth grade have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Middle-school teachers could have either an elementary-education degree or secondary-education training. Teachers who teach high school usually have a bachelor's degree in secondary education. Some subject areas also require additional certifications or specific college courses, etc. An example is ESL (English as a Second Language).

For college, the education and credentials needed are a little different than elementary and high school. For a few community colleges, technical and vocational colleges, the lowest degree accepted may be a bachelor's degree. This is acceptable because the highest degree earned in these educational settings is a certification or associate degree. The bachelor's degree has to match the subject taught or be academically similar. For example, someone who teaches communications usually has a bachelor's degree in communications or English.

For most community colleges and universities, a master's degree in the teaching area is expected. For example, a college instructor teaching math usually has a master's degree in math. A business teacher usually has a master's in business, etc.. Many colleges and universities accept only individuals with a Ph.D. or doctorate degree in the teaching area.

Depending on the subject area, the instructor may also need a certification or license, showing they are active in their field. For example, someone teaching in a nursing program is expected to keep current with their nursing license. An individual teaching in an addictions counseling program is expected to have a current counseling/therapy license. There are a few subject areas where experience outweighs education. This means that the teacher has a wide range of experience in their specific field and is therefore qualified to teach in the area. Most of these courses aren't offered online, but in some cases it's a possibility (i.e. refrigeration, mechanics, welding, plumbing, etc.).

The majority of college and universities instructors have the required education and career experience that have provided them with the knowledge to teach others.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including the University of Phoenix, Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!