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The Average Salary of Adjunct Online Instructors

by Rick Suttle

Online colleges and the brick-and-mortar universities that offer courses via the Internet serve the growing niche of adults who want to earn their degrees from home. To meet the demand, these institutions often hire adjunct online instructors to teach the courses. These professionals teach subjects ranging from engineering to computer programming via webcasts and blogs. Their responsibilities include writing lesson plans, answering students' questions by email and creating exams. If you want to be an adjunct online instructor, you'll need at least a master's degree and professional work along with teaching experience. Salaries vary widely by institution and by the number of courses you teach.

Part-Time Salary and Qualifications

Most adjunct online instructors work part-time, teaching one or more courses. Part-time salaries vary widely by institution and semester length. In 2013, you'd likely earn $1,040 to $1,664 per course for a typical five-week term, according to GetEducated.com, a publisher of college rankings. Salaries for eight-week terms usually range from $2,100 to $2,860 per course. To get one of these positions, you must have at least a master's degree in the subject matter you're teaching. Some institutions might require a Ph.D. Most online colleges require professional experience so you can teach practical applications rather than just theories.

Full-Time Salaries

The average annual salary for adjunct online professors who work full-time was $51,000 in 2013, according to the job website SimplyHired.com. Your salary will vary according to the state in which you teach. In Massachusetts or New York -- two of the higher-paying states -- you'd earn $62,000 or $60,000 per year, respectively. Expect to earn less in states such as Ohio, South Carolina or Oklahoma, where salaries were $49,000, $44,000 and $43,000 per year, respectively.

Contributing Factors

Your salary is likely to be higher as an adjunct online instructor if you work for a well-known or larger university. Smaller online institutions that don't have brick-and-mortar locations tend to pay the lowest salaries. Your earnings will also be contingent on experience. Established professors and doctoral candidates are likely to get the fewer full-time positions that are available. A big advantage with this job is that you have more flexibility in choosing your income level and schedule. For example, if you need to make $40,000 per year, teaching four courses over four terms at $2,500 per course would earn you that amount. Available courses, however, can fluctuate and actually decrease in number, leading to less work.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't report salary information for adjunct online instructors, but it does include job projections for all adjunct instructors and professors under "Postsecondary Teachers." The BLS expects jobs for these professionals to increase 17 percent over the next decade, an average growth rate compared to other occupations. If you're thinking about a career as an adjunct online instructor, you might need to start with a small online college before working your way up to a larger institution -- and higher salary.

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