Tech experts rake in the cash by teaching online

As online education platforms proliferate, some IT pros are making bank by teaching online. Just beware those negative reviews from students.

Man happily throwing money up in the air against green background

Rick Walter was facing a robust job market when he graduated from Brigham Young University in April of 2014 with an IS degree.

But Walter wasn't interested in a conventional career path. He'd worked as an intern at a tech consulting firm the summer before his junior year, where he realized that he didn't like having a set work schedule or a dress code. So instead, the 26-year-old built his own iPhone apps and picked up IT contracting jobs "just to pay bills."

Influenced by Timothy Ferriss's book The 4-Hour Workweek, Walter sought out work that would require limited time yet provide adequate money. So early in June 2014, when Apple came out with Swift, its new programming language for coding Mac OS X and iOS applications, Walter dove into Apple's hefty e-manual, then the only way to learn the new language.

It was then that Walter had a eureka moment: He'd teach Swift the way he would have preferred to learn it. He recorded himself explaining the language as he worked his way chapter by chapter through the manual. In just four days he made about 50 videos, each just several minutes long. He teamed up with Udemy, an online learning marketplace, to offer the video series as a single course. With that, Walter's career as an online instructor was launched.

It's a lucrative one. Making its online debut just three days after Apple released Swift, the course took off. Walter offered it free on day one, when 1,600 people signed up. Interest soared from there, even after he set the price at $199, and Walter earned about $40,000 over the next several days. All told, he has made about $180,000 from that course and others, even after factoring in Udemy's cut.

That's the kind of success that would make many an IT pro wonder: Could I teach online too?

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