Virtual education is paving the way for freelance teachers

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Teaching is becoming the next freelance industry, thanks to a surge in virtual education.

The job market for “freelance educators” has drastically increased over the past few years, according to specialists at FlexJobs, an employment search site that features telecommuting, part-time and flexible positions.

“Freelancing in the education industry has been picking up with the rise of virtual education,” said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, which is based in Colorado. “Not just in K-12 school settings, but also in areas like tutoring, curriculum development and instructional design.”

According to FlexJobs, some of the most common freelance positions in education include K-12 teachers, adjunct faculty at colleges and universities, program coordinators, student advisers, instructional designers and English language teachers.

In a list of the top 35 companies hiring for part-time and remote positions, No. 1 was Edmentum, a provider of online learning programs. A search found that the company is searching for virtual teachers in Denver, Charlotte, Seattle and Birmingham. Connections Education, a provider of K-12 virtual education solutions run by Pearson, is seeking remote adjunct teachers and special education managers.

Nearly one in five workers takes on part-time employment in the U.S., and that figure is expected to rise to 40 percent in the next four years, according to stats released last month from FlexJobs. More than half of part-time employees choose to work fewer hours or as freelancers, and millennials are more likely to work part-time so they can spend time with loved ones, pursue a creative passion and travel, according to the company’s research.

Freelance laborers are employees who work under contracts and individuals who are self-employed. Experts say it is important to note that freelance educators are equally as qualified as traditional educators because they are required to meet the same rigorous requirements, and have the same certifications as those who work in regular school settings.

Many education organizations look to hire freelance workers to fill the need for specific skill sets. Organizations often struggle to find employees to fill certain positions locally, so by considering freelancers, they have access to a much larger, diverse pool of candidates, Reynolds told EdScoop.

For-profit education companies like K12 Inc., Agora and 21st Century cyber charter schools employ dozens of teachers who are able to work remotely. But the quality of instruction, among other things, remains a frequent concern for education experts and families of students who are enrolled.

Reynolds says that organizations should consider hiring freelance laborers to complete projects like designing courses or creating educational materials, because those tasks do not require full-time employment.

“Virtual education has taken off in the last few years, and these organizations are using freelance to find the talent they need for these emerging job areas,” said Reynolds. “Many schools in all levels are putting their coursework online, so they need freelance talent to take on these positions, both virtually and in-house.”

Reach the reporter at darlene.aderoju@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @buuukky and @edscoop_news.

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