Pass It On: How to Teach Online or in the Classroom

3 Ways to Convert Your Expertise to a Teaching Career
Posted by on Wed, May 21, 2014
teach online or in the classroom

The results are in—for most of us, our ideal job gives us the chance to use our skills and talents to their fullest. In fact, a whopping 92 percent of respondents in AARP’s 2013 work and career study rated this particular workplace characteristic as significantly important. So whether you are looking for a brand new career or just a little extra income, we can all agree—the experiences you’ve collected in your profession and in life are some of your most valuable assets, and sharing your experience with others is a satisfying way to earn a paycheck.

One of the best ways to pass on your years of accumulated knowledge is through teaching. If you are an industry expert or if you have a master’s degree, many doors are automatically open to you. If you don’t have a master’s, your experience can still translate to a teaching position. Teacher certification programs are widely accessible, and some can even speed the process up for you by taking your experience into account. The great thing about teaching in the 21st century is that there are now more options than ever before to find your niche.

[Find an online degree program in higher education.]

From the virtual to the traditional classroom, here are 3 places it pays to share your expertise:

1. Teach Online

If you have a skill to share with the public, why not teach it through an online class? Anyone who wants to teach just about any subject can build an online course in their area of expertise and publish it on Udemy. Udemy is a host for online classes, called MOOCs (massive open online courses). The platform also offers business management tools to help you be successful in your own online course, including the ability to set your own prices and track your earnings. Once you establish yourself as a successful online instructor, you might want to expand to other MOOC providers such as Udacity and, which also offer teaching opportunities but vet their instructors more closely.

The other big venue for online instruction is through adjunct professorships at online colleges. For help in searching out these positions, has compiled a list of sites that advertise online adjunct faculty positions along with useful tips and insights for sorting through them. “The really big online universities like Kaplan, ITT Tech, American Public University, and the University of Phoenix,” the article notes, “always have open positions, whether it’s for part-time online adjunct faculty positions, full-time online faculty, instructional design gurus, graders, or course mentors.” You may also find online teaching positions at local colleges, many of whom frequently add online classes to their course offerings as a way reach more students.

[Learn more with this free course in online instruction techniques.]

2. Teach at Community Colleges

Teaching at a community college usually requires a master’s degree, but if you don’t already have one, it may be easier to obtain than you think. It’s possible to earn college credit for experiential learning—the knowledge you have already picked up on the job or in life—saving you time and money on your degree. Community colleges and trade schools may also offer alternative teaching paths to qualified applicants, including the chance for adjunct professors to teach courses in specialized fields without being tenured. Due to the economic constraints faced by most colleges and universities today, it is estimated that over half of the faculty positions in the United States are now made up of contingent, or non-tenure track, faculty members.

Adjunct professorships offer a great deal of flexibility, and many adjunct professors boost their earnings by holding positions at multiple colleges. If you are an effective communicator and hold the right credentials, or are willing to earn them, this type of position can put you on track to becoming a full college professor in the future.

[Already a teacher? Check out education careers beyond the classroom.]

3. Teach in the K–12 Classroom

By becoming a teacher later in your career, you bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the primary and secondary classroom that is beneficial to your students. Although you may not have a traditional teaching degree, alternative teaching certificate programs have been gaining popularity over the past decade. In a study cited by the New York Times, up to one-third of the teachers hired in the United States in 2008 were “delayed entrants,” and that number has only been growing.

The pathway to becoming a certified K12 teacher varies from state to state, but all 50 states now include some type of alternative certification path that takes your demonstrated expertise into account to speed up your entry into the classroom. The Center for Career Changers to the Classroom lists state-by-state teaching certification requirements as well as some of the alternative teacher training programs that are currently available. You can also learn about other programs by contacting your state’s board of education.

Don’t forget to look beyond traditional public school classrooms for teaching positions either. Private, charter, and parochial schools can sometimes offer more latitude in their teaching credential requirements, depending on the state you are in. In any case, it’s always a good idea to test out your passion for teaching by substitute teaching in a few classrooms first. Knowing a subject and teaching that subject can be two different things, which is why learning classroom teaching methods is an important part of any teacher certification or degree program. Once you are certified, you may find you want to move up the ladder of your new career by earning more advanced degrees.

Teaching is a flexible career you can devote yourself to full-time, or you can teach part-time while keeping your current job. Sharing your expertise with others is a great way to give back, earn extra income, and stay educated as well—you’ll be surprised at the things you can learn from your students!




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