Q&A: Do Online Instructors Have the Same Credentials as Traditional Teachers?

Answer: Yes, teachers at online schools must have the same certifications as teachers at traditional schools. All states require public school teachers to posses both a bachelor's degree and state-issued certification, as well as complete a certain amount of internship hours, otherwise known as student teaching experience. It generally takes individuals four to five years to earn their degree and become fully certified. Upon completion of the credential program, individuals usually have to pass a test which tests them on their knowledge in the content area they wish to teach in. They will then be issued a teacher certificate for the grade levels that they are permitted to teach.

Similar to a teaching position at a traditional school, teachers interested in teaching online must complete a teacher application which also requires several professional references. Teachers must also interview for the position. Virtual teachers will generally reside in the same state in which their students live, but there are some schools that do not have this requirement. Online teachers will also receive evaluations from administrators similar to the evaluation process in a traditional school setting. The evaluation process usually requires teachers to be observed by their administrators while conducting a class.

Interactions between students and their teacher will be different in an online situation. While there are typically live webinar sessions, students will be expected to complete their lessons independently. Students can often contact their teacher through the online classroom portal, email, or even by phone.

Teachers' credentials are most likely available for viewing. If a personal introduction is not made by the child's teacher, it may be reasonable for the family to ask to view the credentials if it's something of concern. Many teachers will have credentials beyond what is the minimum requirement. Some of these additional certifications may be: special education, English as a second language, gifted and talented, or a highly qualified status in a specific content area.

Christi WilsonChristi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.