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What Are the Different Types of E-Learning Jobs?

E-learning jobs span a wide range, from instructional designers creating engaging online courses, to e-learning consultants advising on best practices. They also include e-tutors, content developers, and e-learning project managers. What specific e-learning role could best utilize your unique skills and interests?
Jan Fletcher
Jan Fletcher

E-learning is a subcategory within the training and teaching professions, in which instruction occurs through Web-based protocols. All e-learning jobs depend on virtual technologies that enable instruction to occur between instructor and student. Virtual conferencing, podcasts, videos, interactive Web-based sessions, or Web-based and software programs that offer self-paced instruction are found in e-learning jobs. E-learning jobs span many professions.

One type of e-learning job is that of an e-learning college or school instructor. Another type of e-learning career may be found within a business or government setting. Such a career would involve a very different path to obtaining credentials than that of an e-learning job teaching within an academic setting. The latter would share much of the same career preparation as a traditional academician, while the former may not require a professional degree at all. For example, an e-learning job in an insurance agency could consist of teaching adjusters technical details involving the adjustment of insurance claims.

A college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction.
A college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction.

Another type of e-learning career may involve preparing the materials to be delivered via the e-learning format. For example, a textbook was designed as a teaching medium for a classroom. A person who designs instructional materials for the e-learning environment would more likely want to present the materials in a more interactive way. Unlike a textbook, an e-book may contain links or other interactive features that would aid the student in the learning process. Those who prepare instructional e-books also work in the e-learning field.

Some students learn through online schools, using web-based instructors.
Some students learn through online schools, using web-based instructors.

Instructional e-learning jobs are those in which teachers prepare or teach the material to students in a virtual environment. Instruction may be self-paced, with the trainer supervising the process and answering questions. Commercial training jobs span every field; this teaching method is an attractive one because it offers users reduced training costs, flexibility, and customized instruction.

Virtual conferencing is part of e-learning jobs.
Virtual conferencing is part of e-learning jobs.

Development of the e-learning instructional material generally involves the expertise of a teaching professional, either within industry or within academia. An example of e-learning training in a teaching job might be a corporate trainer who instructs employees using a live or prerecorded presentation, or a Web developer who programs an e-learning interface to meet a specific training requirement. Another example is a college professor who teaches an online course. E-learning jobs are increasing in number, as the practice offers many benefits. These may include cost-savings in infrastructure, travel, time spent in transit, and access to expertise that was formerly limited by geographical location.

The creation and maintenance of the mechanisms needed to provide a virtual interface for the instruction is also an e-learning job. E-learning instructors may use visual communication technology to supplement what is often lost in face-to-face instructional modalities. For example, a college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction. Two-way conferencing may be used by companies in one-to-one training sessions. E-learning professors in particular generally have a more difficult task than their in-class colleagues, because online venues do not offer the rich face-to-face communication and interpersonal interactions that occur in a classroom-interactive setting.

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Discussion Comments


Wisegeek's explanation and the two comments compelled me to clarify a few misconceptions or omissions. Please allow me, as briefly as I can, to explain, but I am in no way going to cover the breadth of e-learning.

I am an eLearning, or some prefer e-learning, professional developer with experience spanning: K-12, technical training (simulation-based learning), and higher education. Over the ten plus years I have been in the field, I have learned that effective e-learning, at a minimum, requires: An Instructional designer, technical writer/editor, visual(graphic) designer, multimedia developer, and of course a content expert, usually know as a SME(Subject Matter Expert). My position is that of the visual designer/multimedia developer, however these roles are quite often separate. My responsibility involved the integration of all the parts. I not only work with the Instructional designer on the usability of the User Interface, but also create what is sometimes known as "activities". Activities provide a way for the student to be tested and/or to learn by interacting. The most effective use of activities is at the beginning(what does the student know now), in the middle (what has the student learned to this point), and at the end(What has the student learned). Of course there are variations.

Although developing effective e-learning has a significant upfront cost, among other things, it usually provides better long term retention of the material to be learned. Primarily because effective e-learning delivers the subject matter (content) in to the student or learner in ways that the student can choose what works best for them. Some learners may understand the content just by reading, while others require an audio or visual (animation and/or video), explanation. Also, usually each student is offered the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Plus, the experience is direct, especially in simulation-based learning. Utilization of social media, or the ability to chat with other students, and private consultation with the teacher has proved to be essential. Then, of course, there is the updating and maintaining of the e-learning infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the current trend for companies and academia is to cut corners, think cost savings, and have the Instructional Designer wear most of these hats. Sometimes it is left entirely up to the instructor, professor, or teacher! In this case, not only is the quality and effectiveness of the course significantly diminished, but the student/learner usually suffers. Please do not discount the significance of this mix of skilled people to provide quality and effective e-learning. --Jack K.


@sunnysideup - I'm sure there are a variety of pay scales out there but the only one I know about for sure is a state-run e learning design created to be an extension of the public school system.

So, in order to receive starting pay of $40K, you must be certified to teach and receive specific e-training from the school system in order to teach online.

These teachers are available to teach all year long; there is no standard summer break. But if you talk to any of them, they love what they do and they love the freedom of working from home.


I'm curious...does anyone have an idea of what an elearning job might pay for an elementary, middle or high school teacher?


Based on experiences my son had while taking a few elearning courses in high school, I have to say he had plenty of face-to-face communication (via skype) and phone conversations with his online teacher.

It was a great combination of learning on your own but with very strategic and helpful interactions with the teacher.

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    • A college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction.
      By: fred goldstein
      A college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction.
    • Some students learn through online schools, using web-based instructors.
      By: corepics
      Some students learn through online schools, using web-based instructors.
    • Virtual conferencing is part of e-learning jobs.
      By: carlosseller
      Virtual conferencing is part of e-learning jobs.