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How to Become an Online Adjunct Instructor or Professor

If you have an undergraduate or advanced degree, you should consider putting your subject matter expertise to work as an online adjunct professor or instructor.

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Online adjuncts teach students from remote locations, such as their homes, and are not required to show up at work. This not only saves them on travel costs, but it also permits them greater schedule flexibility. Online adjunct teachers avoid administrative duties such as department meetings and are not subject to publication requirements.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job growth outlook for adjunct professors and instructors will be at least 19% until 2022. Many large schools make use of adjuncts to keep up with their growing student population- in many cases, these adjuncts are based remotely and teach via the Internet and/or VPN (virtual private network).

How do you get started as an online adjunct instructor?

You can search for and apply to jobs listed through several different online career sites. The best ones for online adjuncts include the following:

HigherEdJobs- This site easily lists several hundred online-only jobs for adjunct teachers. To find these jobs, click on the online/remote option on the site or use the advanced search feature to narrow your search by subject area and location.


Adjunct Professor Online– This site uses an RSS feed to list new online faculty positions. In the right-hand column of the site is a searchable job board. Use keywords such as “online teaching” to narrow the search results.

Adjunct Professor Online

Inside Higher Ed– This resource lists several dozen post-secondary online teaching jobs through its careers area. Just use the advanced search feature to filter your search for online/remote jobs. You can also create job alerts so that you’re notified the moment a new job is posted.

Get Educated– This site has a dedicated online teaching jobs and instructor positions job board that is updated twice a week. You can also create a free ad that lists your qualifications and experience- these ads are routinely scanned by recruiters when new positions become available.

get educated

Major universities such as University of Phoenix, ITT Tech, Western Governors University, and American Public University frequently list open positions for online adjunct faculty on their own job boards. You can find these positions by filtering your search results using keywords like “work at home,” “remote,” and “telecommute.”

Finally, don’t forget to use job search engines such as Indeed, Monster, and SimplyHired when looking for online faculty positions. The paid job board, FlexJobs, also lists online teaching positions.

How much do online teaching positions pay?

The pay scale for adjunct professors that teach online isn’t too shabby. The typical minimum for any semester-long course is $1,250, and some university semesters are defined as only four weeks long. Graduate courses pay more than baccalaureate courses, and highly specialized courses like advertising or nursing pay more than general courses like English.

The following schools offer these pay rates:

  • University of Phoenix: $1,300-$1,600 for a 5-week semester
  • DeVry University: $2,900 for an 8-week semester
  • National American University: $1,400 for a 10-week semester
  • Upper Iowa University: $2,200 for an 8-week semester

The equivalent per hour earning rate is $55-$70, as shown in this example online teaching position listed on Indeed.


Some online schools pay per “head,” so the more students you teach, the more money you’ll make. Other schools pay you depending on how many students actually finish your course.  Conversely, online colleges may pay you a flat fee for your class, and then a bonus if a majority of your students finish it without dropping out.

Obviously, it pays to apply to several institutions in order to strike the best value for your teaching efforts.

What equipment will you need to teach online?

Typically, the schools that you apply to will already have software in place that will help you create your online course material and teach. If you’re camera-shy, you needn’t worry about being “taped” because the majority of your lessons will take place through video screen-sharing of your computer whiteboard, not your face and/or body.

Unless you are generating a completely new course from scratch, most schools will supply you with a course syllabus, lessons, textbook and even student study guides and homework materials. You will not only be encouraged, but even required, to contact fellow faculty for advice and discussion about lesson plans and student exams.

So, your absolute requirement is to have a fast Internet connection at home and a relatively new computer. As for the software, it is typically accessed via a VPN connection to the online university’s network.

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Make even more money with online instruction

Once you become adept at teaching an online course, you can create your own personalized version of its subject matter and offer it through several online schools simultaneously. For example, a Spanish 101 course will go through the same fundamentals of language learning in almost every classroom. If you are able to select your own textbook, you might even be able to offer the exact same lessons in the same sequence.

While online universities and colleges offer students the benefits of being accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, there are other online schools that students often go to for basic instruction without accreditation. These places include Coursera, Linda, NimbleMind, and Udemy- all of which offer online courses for sale. Price your course affordably and you could easily make a side income from these sites. This post explains the basics of teaching your own online course.

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