Substitute Teaching Careers

Substitute teachers fill in when the regular teacher takes off.
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When regular teachers take time off, substitute teachers fill in for them. These teachers typically don't have contracts and often can be called to work same-day assignments. The position is temporary and often for a day or a few days; however, substitute teachers sometimes might work for longer periods, depending on regular teachers' time off. Substitute teachers typically work as needed, often on a day-to-day basis.


Credentials for substitute teachers vary by state and sometimes by county, district and school. For example, in California, substitute teachers must have a bachelor's degree and obtain a permit from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. In Broward County, Fla., substitute teachers must have completed at least 60 semesters hours at a university or college and have a Florida teacher certificate or Broward substitute teacher training certificate of completion. Conversely, in Seminole County, Fla., substitute teachers must have a high-school diploma and obtain a Seminole County substitute certificate, which they get by attending a substitute training class through the Seminole County Public Schools. Substitute teachers typically must pass a criminal background check.

Why Substitute Teach

Many teachers become substitute teachers before they take up full-time positions. Doing so allows them to become acquainted with other teaching staff and the school's operations. Others use substitute teaching positions to build contacts for future positions. For some career changers, substitute teaching is a viable option, especially as a part-time job, because it allows them to get a feel for the job before they make a permanent change. Retired people also might become substitute teachers because of the flexibility of teaching schedules and job satisfaction.


Substitute teacher salaries often depend on the school district. The average per diem rate for substitute teachers in Pennsylvania public school districts was $86 in the 2010-2011 school year. At $94 per day, urban districts paid a bit more, while at $84, districts in rural areas paid slightly less. Some districts pay substitute teachers according to their credentials. For example, in Louisiana, certified teachers can make up to $140 per day, depending on the district, while noncertified teachers can earn $80 per day.


One of the biggest draws for substitute teaching is that you can choose when you work. You also can pick the school in which you work. If you wish, you can choose several districts, depending on where you live and commuting convenience. If you're a college student majoring in education, you can add your substitute teaching experience to your resume -- a plus when you apply for full-time teaching jobs. Some schools offer bonus incentives and might give you preference for permanent positions.

Preparing for Assignments

When hired for a new assignment, you familiarize yourself with the materials the regular teacher leaves you, which might include grade-level workbooks, worksheets and study material. You also should check out the locations for areas such as the gym, computer lab, library and cafeteria. Knowing the location of emergency exits and fire and bad weather procedures is also imperative. Above all, you need to read the school’s rules and disciplinary regulations. In some cases, you might need to be aware of students that may require special attention, such as those with medical problems, in case you need to deal with classroom emergencies.

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