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Six Traits to Look for in a Stellar Online Teacher

The right teacher can really open up the world of online learning—find out how.

More and more educators around the world who have taught in a traditional classroom setting are joining the world of online learning. Just as virtual classrooms offer flexibility to students enrolled in online certificate programs and online degree programs, they also create new teaching opportunities for highly skilled and knowledgeable educators.

While many of the same teaching skills are needed in both traditional and online classrooms, teachers leading online classes also need some newer skills. Find out more about what makes a great online teacher and how they create effective learning experiences for students enrolled in online colleges.


The Signs of a Great Online Teacher

Online learning is still relatively new, and while this education method offers benefits to students and teachers alike, teaching in an online learning environment requires certain skills. Whether you’re looking to enroll in an online degree program or interested in teaching opportunities at online schools, it’s important to know what makes a stellar teacher in any virtual classroom.

Teachers of online classes need to be:

  • Inspiring. Students—whether online or in a traditional classroom—need to be inspired. Online teachers can do this by engaging with students individually and as a group, encouraging their success.
  • Patient. Students who are new to online classes face a learning curve, as there are a number of differences from face-to-face learning. Whether they are helping students navigate technical issues, stay focused, or understand class material, online education teachers need a good deal of patience.
  • Accessible. Without classic office hours, teachers in online programs must make themselves accessible in other ways—including via e-mail, video conferencing, or online chats—to make sure students are receiving the full learning experience. 
  • Certified. Along with state certifications and teaching licenses, teachers of online classes can advance their skills in special online teaching certificate programs from accredited universities.
  • Technologically skilled. Along with general technical skills, a teacher leading an online course must be comfortable working within a school’s online learning management system. To lead an online class, it’s just as important to be confident and proficient in a virtual learning environment as in a traditional classroom.
  • Motivated to help students succeed. Great teachers in any environment should want to see their students excel. While distance teaching eliminates the person-to-person interactions of students and teachers, the best online class instructors can motivate and encourage students even from afar. 

Growing Career Prospects for Online Teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines data on the traditional and online education industries, so while there isn’t specific data on the job outlook for online teachers, the overall data shows a strong job market. According to BLS, postsecondary teachers earned a median annual pay of $78,470 per year in 2018, and the job outlook is expected to grow by 11% by 2028.1 With an expected 155,000 new jobs, the field is strong for postsecondary teachers, including those working with online schools.

A teacher’s level of education, amount of experience, field of expertise, and place of employment are all factors affecting pay, but the BLS projects strong job growth for those teaching subjects such as postsecondary business, engineering, architecture, biological science, psychology, nursing, and health specialties.

Learn How to Teach an Online Classroom

To teach students in online schools, you’ll need to receive the same high-quality education as all great teachers. If you want to shape young lives and minds, whether in a traditional classroom setting or in a virtual classroom, earning your degree from Walden University’s MS in Higher Education program is a great way to begin. When you earn your master’s from Walden, you can learn how to teach online classes and expand your career opportunities.

The landscape for students and teachers has changed, and today’s best online schools are designed to create a great firsthand experience for teachers looking to work in online education. Earn your college degree and gain the teaching skills you need, all while learning how online classes work. Walden University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and its master’s program in education offers a range of specializations to get you on the teaching career track of your dreams.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Higher Education. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,