What Certification is Needed to Teach Online

Do you need to be a qualified teacher to teach online? What technical skills do you need? With over 20 years in education and IT I can show you what you need to know.

You don’t need any qualifications to teach online, you just need to know more than the people are you teaching just like in real life. If you teach for a school or university you will need formal training whether you teach online or in person.

The suppliers of training and certification for teaching online are:

  • Vocational Training
  • Vendor Training
  • University Training
  • Independent Training

Below I will expand on these suppliers to show you actual places you can go for training and what to expect as an outcome.

Considerations Prior to Training

When considering what the right training for you is you should think about the following:

  • Cost and Time to Complete
  • Relevance to Teaching Online
  • Hands on Skills Learned
  • Your current educational level

These factors will all come into play when deciding which one of the below educational organisations to pick for your training to teach online.

Areas of Study to Teach Online

When you are looking for training with the below providers here is a list of possible courses you could do depending on how you are going to teach online that you may wish to think about.

Possible areas of study are:

  • Instructional Design
  • eLearning
  • Digital Media
  • Web Development
  • Graphic Design
  • Education
  • Online Coaching
  • Communications

This is not a complete list and it is worth checking with your local training providers what they can offer you in both short courses and more formalized training.

Vocational Training

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is available in most countries but sometimes the name might be a little different. If you are in Australia the VET sector is made up of government run Tafe Colleges and private Registered Training Organisations (RTO). If you are in the USA they are called Vocational Colleges, Career Schools or Trade Schools. Regardless of the name these educational institutions off hands on training with courses ranging from a few weeks to 2 years.

Depending on the country they often have a basic teaching course while not enough to teach at in Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) is enough to teach for any private organisation. Depending on the country they also have online teaching qualifications as well.

In Australia an example of this is the minimum requirement to teach which is the Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment which allows you to teach any other qualification you hold up in the VET sector qualifications.

Vendor Training

There are some global vendors that have industry accepted certifications that you can use to teach online like the Comptia CTT+ certification. It has both an online and an in classroom certification path and is accepted by Microsoft and most other IT companies as the minimum requirement to teach. You will need to check with each company about what they accept as a valid teaching qualification.

This course can be fully completed in a short time with an exam and a video of you teaching to be able to pass and be certified. All certifications of this type have a renewal period where you need to show you have kept your skills current by going through the process again to show currency.

University Training

Depending on the country and what you are teaching online it will depend on which bachelor or higher qualification you need to be able to teach. As an example you can teach English online without any qualifications at all to children in Asia and all you need is to be a native English speaker. You will earn a few dollars more an hour if you have a bachelor or any type though.

If you want to teach or tutor in K-12 you will need a bachelor in most countries and also register with the local teachers association as well which will have some more requirements of you. Once registered this will allow you to teach or tutor online for K-12.

If you complete any degree and then follow up with a one to two year post graduate certificate or diploma in teaching you can also teach that qualification online with the university. Most Universities require a PHD for your to teach a subject either in person or online.

A typical bachelors degree will take you 3 to 4 years to complete and some of the training will not be very relevant to teaching online. You may however by able to include some web development and content management subjects to balance that out in your electives. Most Universities do have eLearning subjects these days as well.

Independent Training

Some private and not for profit companies have their own in house trainer qualifications that you need to study for and sit their exams. These are generally only good for that company though and are not good for teaching at schools or universities. They are however globally recognized for that company and you can then teach their courses online.

Teaching Online vs Offline

You will have noticed that most of the training and certification above apart from the CTT+ is not centered on teaching online. They are normal training qualifications that you may have already known about. So what extra do you need to know if you are teaching online? Well it depends on how you will be delivering your training online.

Ways to Deliver Training Online:

  • eLearning
  • Live Online Classrooms
  • MOOC
  • Q&A Tutoring
  • Live Tutoring

If you are doing eLearning you will want to know how to create your content and use a Learning Management System (LMS) to host it on the internet. So you will need to know about and obtain certification on these two topics.

If you are teaching Live Online Classrooms you will be using a mix of technologies you may wish to attend training for like Web Conferencing, Virtual Machines, Classroom Management Software and more.

MOOC style delivery is a different style of eLearning where the students self manage and don’t generally need any teacher support. The students peer support on the forums and if they want support then they have to pay for it.

If you are doing Q&A style tutoring you can simply use any online chat application like Messenger, Whatsapp or WeChat. Or alternatively just use email or website forums.

Live tutoring may require the use of remote desktop software and a microphone and you will need to understand how to use these tools and help the student install and use them as well. Some live support as well as audio chat will include a video chat.


You have probably noticed that all the current certification for teaching online is the same as it is to teach offline. The reason for this is that while there is a lot of training online now the educational institutions and industry as a whole is slow to catch up. This has always been the case.

So you may be doing a formal qualification like a Bachelor in Education and then seeking some vendor certifications to fill in the gaps to teach online. This is very common and it is what you will see even with my qualification on LinkedIn via the about section of the website.

TIP : Getting your theory based training from a university and your hands on training with vocational training and vendor certification provides the perfect mix for a good online trainer.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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