Distance learning is becoming more common not only in online for-profit colleges, but also in high schools, public universities and technical colleges. A virtual teaching job appeals to educators who want the flexibility of working from home while still helping students learn. While many online sites and programs tout certification for online learning, reputable schools typically only hire state certified teachers for K-12, and colleges want at least a master's degree.
Becoming an online high school instructor for a public school has the same requirements as for being a standard classroom teacher. Depending on the state, high school teachers need at least a B.A. plus teacher certification, which includes additional classes and student teaching. Most online public high schools hire regular classroom teachers looking for a different or virtual teaching environment. Not all states offer public high school online.
A majority of online colleges, at least those that are accredited, have similar standards to regular colleges when it comes to hiring educators. Lower level classes require instructors to have at least a master's degree, and higher-level courses and graduate programs require that instructors have a doctorate. Most schools also prefer their instructors to have real world experience, computer literacy and teaching experience. Instructors who meet the general education requirements can earn an online teaching certificate to make themselves more employable, but it isn't necessary.
Many traditional universities offer online courses for their regular students, and some have programs that are 100 percent virtual. A majority of the instructors already teach on campus, although for the true virtual programs, the instructor may be remote. Traditional universities generally prefer instructors to have doctorate degrees, although it is possible to have instructors who only have master's degrees with other qualifications, including scholarly publication and experience.
Many technical and vocational schools offer classes online. These schools offer certificate and degree programs in paralegal studies, medical billing, career training and other real-world industry courses. Teaching in a reputable associate or bachelor's degree program requires the same qualifications as regular schools: a master's degree or higher. Teaching for certification in a particular industry may only require a B.A. and experience within that industry, but it depends on the school and the program.