(This is an article by Carrie Oakley*. If you are a Ph.D. student looking for money making ideas, and aspiring to pursue an academic career in the future, you may want to consider teaching at an online college now. It will provide you some much needed income, invaluable experience and a definite edge compared to the stiff competition you will face when you start your application process.)
It’s not a job that comes to mind immediately or one that you dream of when you join college, but it’s fulfilling and satisfactory in many aspects; teaching at an online college is an option you could consider if you’re a college professor or aspiring to become one. The demand for skilled and dedicated teachers is rising by the day, so if you think you fit the bill and would enjoy teaching online, here are answers to a few basic questions you’re likely to have about the job:
What qualifications do you need to teach college courses online?
Most universities prefer their own staff to handle their online courses; however, it is possible to find work as an adjunct professor if you hold a graduate degree or a doctorate in the subject you intend to teach, or if you hold any graduate degree and have completed 18 graduate level credits in the subject you want to teach. Many who aspire to teach online pursue the online graduate certificate in Management of E-Learning. This is offered by various universities and can be completed in as little as six months. When you complete this course, you’re not only eligible to teach online, you can also apply for positions as e-learning course designers.
Do you need to have prior experience?
It depends on the college you apply to and the course you want to teach – some may prefer experienced professors while others may be willing to try you out if you’re impressive or if they’re short of staff. Also, if the course is simple and meant to impart basic knowledge, you would be welcome to teach it even without experience.
How do you apply to become an online college professor?
Find out which online colleges (and regular ones that offer online courses) are hiring and send in your resume to the concerned department. You could also find online adjunct groups and sign up to meet and interact with others in this line of work. This way, you stay connected to all that’s happening in the world of online teaching and you know of any job vacancies as soon as they’re posted.
How much does an online college professor normally make?
Some colleges pay the same per credit hour as they do for those who teach traditional courses while others may pay according to your skill and experience. If you’re teaching online at a community or local college, the pay may not be as much as you would get at a bigger university. Online professors do take on other jobs like private tuition in order to make enough money.
How many hours of work does the job entail?
The number of hours varies according to the college, the course and the teacher. Some colleges set a number of hours for each credit; however, an online teacher may have to spend time responding to student queries and questions on interactive discussion threads.
Is it possible to work from home as an online college professor?
Yes, you can work from any location if you teach online. You don’t have to be on campus or even at an office when you handle online classes.
Are the work hours flexible?
As with online learning, online teaching too has flexible schedules. However, you do have to be ready to respond to student queries and doubts and take an active part in any discussion that happens online. So while you may not have preset work hours, you do have to stay connected in order to send out quick and accurate responses. Schedules may have to be set for interactive lessons and to send out study material to students.
What kind of software do you have to be familiar with?
You must be technology savvy if you want to teach online; a basic knowledge of the Internet and how instant chat and email can be used to interact with students is a plus; and while you don’t need to be familiar with any special kind of software, it would help if you spent some time familiarizing yourself with the medium used to impart lessons and send out study material before you decide to become an online professor.
Is it possible to work part-time as an online college professor?
Yes, it is possible to work part-time as an online college professor. You could take on online teaching gigs to supplement your regular job or just as a means to spend your time fruitfully.
How does online teaching help further your career?
If you’re new to the profession of teaching, online courses help you gain experience in your field. Besides this, you also become familiar and comfortable with technology and know how to use it effectively and efficiently. You get to interact with students from a wide cross-section of society and this broadens your horizons and boosts your knowledge; and your ability is challenged and tested by inquisitive and bright students who make your online classes more interesting.
*About the author: This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online colleges. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.