The slow but steady move from on-campus to online education is creating yet another niche area in the education profession: the online course instructor. This is just one of a long - and ever increasing - line of career opportunities that are open to people holding qualifications in education. More and more students are also opting for distance learning over on-campus training as, not only is it far more comfortable for them to learn from home, it is also extremely cost-effective as there are, for instance, no extra travelling, accommodation or food expenses.
The field of education probably contains the most diversity of any of the traditional professions and online degree programs including all four degree levels (associate, bachelor, master and doctorate) can be obtained in relatively obscure fields. The following is only a short summary of the many courses that are available to students today.
Online Education Associate Degrees
Undergraduate associate degrees are usually extremely broad and serve to give the student a mere introduction to the field that he or she will later specialize in. They usually take two years to complete but, with online learning being as easy as it is, it could take the online student considerably less time. Examples of online educational degrees at the associate level include those listed below.
Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education: Rasmussen College
This is one of the many degrees that Rasmussen offers that is completely web-based and they have set up a course that, for an associate degree, is quite specific. This degree's curriculum includes subjects like infant and toddler development and family dynamics and the qualified student will have learnt how to:
- Maintain group discipline in an educational setting;
- Conduct field trips and parent conferences;
- Resolve behavioral and academic problems; and
- Ensure correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Further information concerning this course can be obtained directly from Rasmussen College, and they can be contacted at 888-549-6755 (their online studies division) or through their website.
Associate of Arts in Paraprofessional Education: University of Phoenix
This degree aims to provide students with an overall understanding of how contemporary education has been shaped and influenced by recent social and economic factors. Child development and classroom practices are also touched on and typical courses offered in this degree will include:
- Contemporary issues in American education;
- Diversity in the classroom;
- Teaching as a profession; and
- Childhood instruction.
The University of Phoenix will have further information available about this degree, and the other online educational degrees that it offers, and interested parties can contact them at 3157 E Elwood Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034 (tel: 866-766-0766 and website
Online Education Bachelor's Degrees
The undergraduate bachelor's degree is slightly more specialized than the associate as students progress slowly towards the specific areas they would like to teach or practice in. Bachelor degrees usually take four years to complete but online students should be able to work at an accelerated rate.
Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education: Grand Canyon University
GCU offers three degrees at this level, being those with course concentrations in math, social studies and English. These degrees will prepare a student for teaching grades 7 through 12 and these students can take confidence from the fact that all courses offered are aligned with the Interstate New Teacher Support and Assessment Consortium standards. Common courses include:
- College algebra (math concentration);
- Old testament history (social studies concentration);
- Analysis of world literature (English concentration); and
- Research writing (general concentration).
Those who need further information about these degree programs can contact GCU at 3300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85017 (tel: 1-800-586-9907 and website
BA in Special Education: Western Governors University
This degree will equip a student to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities on any level and, in some states, will provide this qualification in both special education and elementary school teaching. This degree is perfect for both unlicensed substitute teachers and those wanting to specialize in special education. This degree program consists of four domains of study:
- Demonstration teaching (including practice teaching);
- Interdisciplinary studies;
- Foundations of teaching; and
- Effective teaching practices (special education).
Western Governors University is fully accredited and offers further information about this degree program on their website and they can also be contacted at 1-866-225-5948.
Online Education Master's Degrees
Completion of a master's degree, the first level graduate course, involves the completion of not only the degree courses but also of a special project or thesis. Master's degrees usually take two years to complete but, again, this process can be accelerated through a student's studying online. Master's degrees are highly specific and there are many different types available online in the field of education.
Master of Education in Adult Education: Jones International University
This degree offers a combination of theoretical learning and practical application and emphasizes the implementation of computer and other technology in the field of adult education. The degree consists of an orientation course, 6 core courses, 3 specialization courses and one capstone course and the qualified student will be able to:
- Demonstrate and apply strategic planning;
- Integrate assessment strategies to improve adult learning;
- Explain and apply adult learning theory; and
- Apply research methods to improve learning organizations.
Jones International University also offers many similar online education programs and can be contacted at 9697 E Mineral Avenue, Centennial, CO 80112 (tel: 1-800-811-5663 and website
Master of Science in Education - Curriculum and Instruction Specialization: Capella University
This degree program will teach a student both how to design a curriculum and how to teach it. The majority of teachers who choose this degree are already licensed P - 12 teachers who just want to improve themselves and make their skills base more marketable. This degree is divided into core courses and specialization courses, which include the following:
- Curriculum mapping: reflection and practice (specialization);
- Survey of research methodology (specialization);
- Classroom management strategies (core); and
- Assessment and improvement of instruction.
Capella University is fully accredited and specializes in distance learning. Further information can be obtained from their website or their campus at 225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis MN, 55402 (tel: 1-888-227-2736).
Online Education Doctoral Degrees
Doctoral degrees are the most specialized of them all and there is usually no limit on how long a student has to complete them. Doctorates are graduate degrees and there are several online education degrees that fall into this category.
Doctorate of Philosophy in Education - Athletic Administration Specialization: Northcentral University
This degree program concentrates specifically on the somewhat unusual areas of sports products and services and their organization, promotion and production. It is a highly specialized qualification - as doctoral degrees usually are - and includes courses on the following subjects:
- Intercollegiate sport governance;
- Advising the student athlete;
- Legal aspects of equity in intercollegiate athletics; and
- Student affairs leadership.
Further details regarding this doctorate can be obtained from Northcentral University and students can contact them through their website or at their mailing address of 10000 E University Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314 (tel: 928-541-7777).
Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership: Walden University
To qualify, a student has to complete 54 semester credit hours divided among applied research, foundation courses, core courses, project study and doctoral study intensive. The concept that this degree program is based on is "educator as leader" and graduates will usually take positions in the forefront of their communities and schools. The individual semester courses include:
- Collegial interactions and professional development;
- Applied education in research;
- Teacher leadership: trends, issues, global perspectives; and
- Teaching and learning: theory and research.
More information can be obtained from Walden University either at their website or by calling them on 1-866-492-5336.
Career Opportunities and Salary Scales
Apart from actually teaching children at all levels from preschool to high school (including special education and coaching), someone with a teaching qualification can also teach young adults at the college and university level and older adults at the high school, college and university level. What is not so obvious is that there are literally hundreds of career opportunities in the administrative areas of education, which range from curriculum design and food services to libraries and volunteer programs. No matter what online education qualification a person has, they are bound to find a job somewhere in the educational hierarchy. There are also comprehensive online sites that list available teaching and administrative positions and also facilitate a candidate's applying for these positions.
A short list of the more diverse positions available would include the following:
- Director of news and editorial services at a polytechnic institute;
- Coordinator for certification and graduate advisement for a university;
- Part-time child care assistant for a community college;
- Administrative assistant - VP of student services for a school of professional psychology; and
- Call center trainer at a technical institute.
As at December 2009, the median annual salaries that were being paid to teachers teaching K - 12 on the various different levels were the following:
- Elementary school teacher: $40,000;
- High school teacher: $42,500;
- Middle school teacher: $42,000;
- Special education teacher: $41,000; and
- Secondary school teacher: $42,000.
Opportunities for lucrative careers in education are increasing all the time, as are the types of education degree programs that are now online. Anyone who wants to obtain a degree in education should thoroughly review all available degree programs before choosing the one that suits them the best.