Sunday, March 6, 2011

Make Money Teaching Online!

The best time to look for work is when you already have a job. This is when you make your plans.  Planning to leave the face to face classroom for virtual work takes preparation as well.

Finding a job is so much more than shooting resumes out via email.  Certainly the a good resume is part of the picture, but it's just one tool of many you need to sharpen as you work toward a career change. 

Be prepared!

I went back to school and got a certificate in online teaching and learning as well as a Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis on distance learning. I could see the future coming and I loved the work. I taught part time for Connected University and held on to my classroom job.  I chased grants and learned to both design and teach online. I believed hard work, dedication, and setting goals would change my world.  Eventually I took the leap to full time online employment. Despite my preparations,  it took me several years to learn the ropes.

I wish I knew then, what I know now.

I recall attending a conference just after I left the 'security' of the classroom and a traditional job.  I was at the conference to learn and to network, but I really didn't know what I was doing.  An educational sales rep took pity on me and briefly schooled me. 
  • Get a business card.
  • Establish a web presence.
  • Network with decision makers.
  • Join and participate in professional groups.

I did all that and more. Over the first few years of my career, working with dial up modems from a small mountain town, I learned project my work and experience across the country using the Internet.

The first year as a consultant and online teacher involved a lot of trial and error.  I remember sending out hundreds of reasonably crafted and targeted emails with resume.  The silence was deafening.  The offers were few, far between, and underpaid.  It was very discouraging. But that's what it took for me to realize I needed to reach out to the people I knew and truly network. My Eureka Moment came when I reconnected with some great teachers I'd met via ISTE.  After that door open to more opportunities than I could have imagined.

To prepare for an academic online teaching career I recommend reading Make Money Teaching Online.

The book helps you get organized and set goals. When I read this book I didn't learn anything new. I did see  much of what I'd learned by trial and error and hard knocks laid out chapter by chapter.  If you are just getting started, or if you are stalled and wondering how to grow your academic career, read the book.  It's filled with solid advice.  Follow the advice and you'll be better prepared when opportunity comes your way.

Read More about Finding E-Learning Jobs! 

Here are more articles about strategies for finding online work, and the kinds of preparation and paperwork you should be working on: 
  1. Where and How to Find E-Learning Jobs
  2. Finding E-Learning Jobs
  3. Finding Online Teaching Jobs: Are you a Online Teaching, Adjunct Instructor, K-12 Virtual Teacher? 
  4. E-Portfolios for Career Development: It's not just resumes anymore!
  5. Make Money Teaching Online 
  6. Successful Techniques and Proven Strategies for Finding Online Teaching Work


  1. Hi Dennis,

    This is great advice. I can't wait to get the book and dig in. One question - do you think it's necessary to be certified as an online instructor or can one make the transition from classroom without it?

    Certificate Programs Admin Asst

  2. To move from classroom teaching to online teaching you need experience. Those who have been online students and found the experience transforming are good candidates for becoming online instructors.

    Teachers who already use Web 2.0 tools in their traditional classrooms are also better prepared for the transition.

    Many teachers are thrown into the online teaching experience with little more than a few hours of hardware training. This sink or swim initiation to online teaching is hard on teachers and even harder on students.

    Teaching online is part of a unique skill set that develops more rapidly with real experience as an online teacher.

    Online teaching experience is what a hands on certificate program can provide. Our program balances between theory and practice. We feel that theory is best learned as part of hands on activities that allow you to practice being an instructor.

    Our course of study culminates in a practicum. Students become teachers working in one of our graduate classes under the guidance of a master online teacher. This final experience helps the novice transform into a qualified professional instructor.

    Once the certificate is earned, its time to go get that all important paid experience.

    I knew I wanted to teach online. As a veteran classroom instructor and computer using educator with a strong writing background I had many of the tools I needed to make a career transition (after 25 years in the classroom).

    What I needed was experience and a masters degree. I started in a certificate program that allowed me to apply my classes to a maters degree. While taking the initial courses I applied to a professional development group and was accepted, despite my lack of experience and degree. While I studied I taught expertly designed online classes. The hands on experience combined with the intellectual rigor of my university training transformed my vision of learning and teaching.

    I was lucky. I got to start a second career doing something I loved. These lessons were incorporated into the UW-Stout Certificate Program back in 2005.

    Deciding to return to school for a certificate that evolved into a masters degree changed my life. I don't think I could have made the transition without the training and teaching experiences I found.

    ~ Dennis

  3. Thanks Dennis,

    That makes sense


  4. I just graduated from the University of Phoenix - Online with my MBA in HR and would love to teach online. Can you give me pointers on how to find a position and get hired?