Q&A: What Credentials Do You Need to Teach Online?

Answer: Online teachers need the same credentials and education that all teachers need. To instruct in K-12 education, 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. Some teachers need special endorsements, such as in ESL or special education.

Teachers who instruct kindergarten through eighth grade are most likely to have a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Teachers who instruct in high school usually focus on a specialty area. Examples may be in math, history or social studies, art, English and composition.

For college, the education and credentials needed are a little different. For some community colleges and technical schools, the lowest degree required might still be a bachelor's degree. This tends to be true when the highest degree available at the school is a certificate or associate degree. However, there are some technical and vocational schools as well as community colleges that may accept work experience in lieu of education. These fields are more specific, such as those for automotive technicians, welding, plumbing, air conditioning repair, and medical billing and coding, as examples

For other community colleges and universities, a master's degree in the teaching area is expected. For example, a college instructor teaching English usually has a master's degree in English. A business teacher usually has a master's in business or possibly a relevant area such as accounting. Many instructors at the college and university level also have a Ph.D. or doctorate.

Depending on the subject area, the instructor may also need a certification or license, showing they are active in their field. For example, an instructor teaching in a nursing program should be a registered nurse (RN) or, at a minimum, in good standing with the State's Nursing Board, if retired from the field.

College and university instructors do need to have an appropriate education, experience in the field, knowledge to share, and a passion for teaching others what they've learned. Your online instructor should be able to provide educational guidance within their area and be a great resource for you.

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 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!