online teaching career

Have you ever thought about starting teaching online?

According to statistics one in four students takes at least one online course 1. Thousands of people are craving for affordable, flexible and inexpensive online courses to enrich their knowledge and start applying new skills to a real-life environment.

It is a good career opportunity, isn’t it?

Don’t know a thing about teaching online?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve interviewed Liz Hardy - an online instructor with 10 years’ experience – and asked her troubling questions about being an online instructor, making online teaching an alternative career and a steady source of income.

She also gives some great nuggets about how to find an online teaching job with no prior experience.

If you’ve been thinking about getting started with teaching online, now is the time to do so! Keep reading…

Liz, what are the benefits of being an online teacher/instructor?

There are so many! One of the best things is you can share your passion for education with a wider group of potential learners, as online learning makes it easier than ever before for people to enrol in a course. You no longer have to live in the same city as the learning organisation, which is a big plus.

The role also has flexible hours, which means you have a degree of freedom in how you spend your day – as long as you’re available to support students and you finish all work on time, some of this can be done outside the traditional 9-5 hours of the workplace.

Will distance learning ever replace classroom teachers?

There’s a place for both online learning and face-to-face learning: they have different applications and uses. I don’t think it has to be one or the other – some people learn better face to face, and others prefer independent learning around a busy lifestyle and multiple commitments.

What are the steps to the online teaching career? How to get started and be headed in the right direction?

Many kinds of teaching experience can be translated into an online environment, so some teaching experience is a great place to start. If you are confident with technology (and can demonstrate that) it’s also a real plus. It’s also essential to be able to show your written communication skills are excellent, as much of the communication with students is done via email.

Of course, a relevant qualification is also a bonus.

What challenges do online teachers and instructors face and how do they usually overcome them?

Communication without body language is always a major challenge: you have to be a very clear written communicator, and be ready to explain issues and problems from different perspectives to increase understanding.

The workload is often bigger than in traditional teaching: you have to be well organised and have a good handle on what needs to be done by when.

Online teaching can also be isolating: you have to take the initiative and makes sure you’re part of a network of like-minded professionals.

What makes a great online instructor?

Someone with a genuine belief in what they’re doing. Someone who understands the value of education, and how it can change lives. Well-developed communication skills and the ability to establish rapport with students, and encourage them to achieve their goals. An understanding of the challenges new online students face. And a strong understanding of the subject you’re teaching also helps!

How to find an online teaching job with no experience?

It’s tricky to find any job with no experience: the way to start would be to get some experience teaching that you could then translate into the online environment. This could be anything from hobby and community courses to something more formal. It also looks good if you’re working towards a qualification in education and ideally online teaching – some MOOCs will offer the topic. It also always helps to expand your professional network, and let your existing network know you’re interested in entering the field. LinkedIn and Twitter are useful tools for expanding your network and connecting with people who might be able to help you.

What are the most important things you’ve learned while teaching online?

Patience is one big thing! It takes awhile for new students to find their feet in the online learning environment, and that’s perfectly natural. I’ve also found that a little kindness goes a long way to establishing productive working relationships. I’ve also refined my time management and communication skills along the way.


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About the Author:

Liz Hardy

Liz has been teaching online for 10 years and have several degrees and diplomas, including a PhD in English and qualifications in Adult Education. She is the founder of, a website she created to help online teachers to work smarter. She talk about common online teaching challenges on my blog, and also offer highly practical professional development courses for online teachers.
Follow Liz on Twitter @SimpliTeach

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How to Start a Career in the ELearning Field?

LMS to teach online