Distance Learning Coordinator Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a distance learning coordinator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a distance learning coordinator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Distance Learning Coordinator Career

Distance learning coordinators assist in the development of courses for online learning. They coordinate the delivery of distance learning, maintain learning websites and assess and improve distance learning programs. Evaluate the pros and cons of this up-and-coming profession to see if being a distance learning coordinator might be right for you.

PROS of a Distance Learning Coordinator Career
Many find the task of helping students reach their goals to be highly rewarding*
Relatively little schooling is needed (a bachelor's degree is sufficient for most jobs)*
Work is available in many locations (colleges, universities, large corporations, etc.)*
Average job growth is predicted (13% growth from 2012-2022)*

CONS of a Distance Learning Coordinator Career
Accountability for learning outcomes can be stressful*
Education may be required for occupational advancement (master's or doctorate degree)*
Often requires long hours (including nights and weekends)*
Dual knowledge base is generally required (education and technology)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Distance learning coordinators fall under the broad umbrella of instructional coordinators. Their primary duties involve planning out and developing curriculum and creating online learning programs for distance learning students. Distance learning coordinators often work in collaboration with faculty and administrators, shaping course decisions and helping put in place the ideal technologies for enhanced learning. They also spend a great deal of time working with computers to create learning tools and maintain online learning portals and websites.

While most distance learning coordinator positions are based in schools, opportunities also exist in the distance learning departments of corporations. Many large companies now conduct at least a portion of their employee training programs online, establishing a need for distance learning coordinators to create and maintain training sites. The duties of corporate positions are basically the same as those found in school environments.

Job Growth and Salary

Due to the relatively recent advent of distance learning, little concrete information regarding salary and job growth specifically for distance learning coordinators is available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does make projections for instructional coordinators as a general group, and distance learning coordinators are grouped within that classification.

Job growth for instructional coordinators is projected to be strong, according to the BLS, mainly due to new learning technologies and standards. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS projects 13% growth in the instructional coordinator field, which is average for most industries. Salaries tend to be fairly impressive as well, as the BLS reported the 2014 median annual salary for instructional coordinators was $61,550.

Career Skills and Requirements

A bachelor's degree in an education field is considered a standard requirement for a distance learning coordinator career. For career advancement, you may be required to earn a master's degree or even a doctoral degree. Experience with instructional development and a basic knowledge of technology are also required. In addition, distance learning coordinators must be strong communicators who can think creatively and troubleshoot both learning and computer issues with ease, and they must work well in both supervisory and team-player roles.

Because most jobs are at the postsecondary level or in corporate environments, special licenses are rarely required, but teaching experience can give you an edge when applying for a position. Supervisory experience is also often listed as a preferred qualification for distance learning coordinators.

What Employers Are Looking For

With distance education growing rapidly, distance learning coordinators can find work in a variety of environments. A degree and experience combine to form the foundation of what most employers seek in a distance learning coordinator, but some also look for specialized technology training and managerial skills. The following are examples of what some employers were looking for in March 2012:

  • A distribution company in Ohio seeks a distance learning program manager to provide curriculum development and revision for an online learning portal. Ideal candidates have a bachelor's degree and 7-10 years of experience with distance learning and outside sales. Proficiency using learning management software, e-learning platforms and Microsoft Office is also required.
  • A California county office of education needs a distance learning resource specialist to develop and maintain interactive online courses. Applicants should know instructional design and learning principles and understand computer hardware and software, including servers and graphical interfaces. This position requires a bachelor's degree, valid California driver's license and two years of experience with online learning systems.
  • A college in New York is looking for an associate dean of online learning to lead faculty and help develop e-courses that better integrate technology into teaching and learning. A master's degree is required, and ideal candidates should be in the process of earning a doctorate degree. The position also requires excellent communication and technology skills and at least three years of experience with online learning and supervision.
  • A California university requires a director of distance learning to supervise distance learning staff and maintain and enhance distance learning platforms. This position requires a bachelor's degree with at least five years of experience; a master's or doctorate degree is preferred. Applicants should also have strong organization and creativity, experience with online learning delivery systems and excellent communication skills.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Since earning a bachelor's degree is considered standard in this field, you need to develop special skills to help you stand out as an ideal distance learning coordinator. First, you can develop skills in education. Teaching experience is always beneficial, particularly if it is online teaching experience. In addition, taking classes in online learning and instructional development can help you gain abilities that set your work apart and increase your chances of getting hired.

The second key area for skill development is in technology. Many employers seek distance learning coordinators who can easily maintain websites and online portals with little assistance or supervision. Gaining familiarity with graphical user interfaces, basic coding language, e-learning platforms and learning management systems can impress potential employers and improve your ability to perform required job duties.

Continuing Education

Another way to catch a potential employer's attention is with graduate-level training. Many schools offer 1-year graduate certificates in online teaching and learning. These programs are less expensive and less time- and labor-intensive than a full master's degree program, and they provide focused, specialized training on subjects directly related to distance learning. Often offered online, these certificate programs teach you how to develop strong online learning programs, build online communities, properly facilitate learning online and incorporate emerging technologies into a distance learning program.

Other Careers to Consider

If you enjoy the thought of helping students reach their life goals but don't relish the rigorous and demanding schedule of a distance learning coordinator, consider a career as a postsecondary teacher. Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of settings, including colleges, universities, technical schools and vocational institutions. This job involves more education than a distance learning coordinator position, with a master's or doctorate degree generally being required, but it also offers a flexible schedule, as most postsecondary teachers have autonomy to allocate their time as they please among teaching, studying, grading, researching and other duties. The BLS indicates job growth will be above average in this field, projecting 17% growth between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also reported the median annual salary for postsecondary teachers in 2011 was about $64,000, similar to the median salary of distance learning coordinators.

On the other hand, if you don't mind a rigorous and demanding schedule and you crave face time with students, consider becoming an educational administrator. Educational administrators provide leadership and manage the day-to-day operations of schools at all academic levels. They often work long hours and must hold at least a master's degree and a state educational administrator's license, but they also have the reward of watching students grow and change as a result of their efforts. The BLS projects average job growth for educational administrators, with 14% growth expected between 2010 and 2020, slower than the 20% growth for distance learning coordinators. Salaries are higher than those of distance learning coordinators; however, as the BLS reported, the median annual salary for educational administrators in 2011 was about $77,000.

Popular Schools

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    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

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      • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
      • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
    Certificate
      • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology
      • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology
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    2. Purdue University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology
      • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology
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    3. American InterContinental University

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    Master's
      • Master: Education - Instructional Design
      • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
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    4. Kaplan University

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    Master's
      • MSE in Instructional Technology - Adult Learning/Higher Ed
      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
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    5. Penn Foster High School

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    6. Saint Joseph's University

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      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
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Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology

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American InterContinental University

  • Master: Education - Instructional Design
  • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction

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Kaplan University

  • MSE in Instructional Technology - Adult Learning/Higher Ed
  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Undergraduate in Early Childhood

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification

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