How to Become a Substitute Teacher

Substitute teaching can be a challenging, yet highly rewarding job. Although it takes a lot of enthusiasm and hard work, you can build a set of skills that will help you become an expert substitute teacher. If you’re looking for job flexibility, days full of fun and variety, and enjoy investing in students—then substitute teaching may be for you!

You should plan on investing several hours in preparing to become a substitute teacher. School districts will often require trainings, orientation sessions, and tests to ensure that prospective substitute teachers are ready for the classroom. Also, keeping in mind that you may be asked to pay for background checkouts, medical tests, or training materials out of your own pocket. Although each district may have specific requirements, we will walk you through the most common requirements for substitute teachers.

To become an excellent substitute teacher, the most critical ability you can master is how to easily manage classroom behavior and teach effectively. To learn the research proven skills and techniques to help you become a substitute teacher that is requested by students and schools, check out the SubSkills™ Basic Online Training Course or the Substitute Teacher Handbook.

Are you in? Keep scrolling to learn how you can begin!

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A Few Facts About Substitute Teaching

SUBS THAT PLAN TO STAY IN EDUCATION

82%

PERCENTAGE OF SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS WHO WORK AT LEAST TWO YEARS

70%

SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS THAT HAVE A PERMANENT TEACHING LICENSE

40%

PERCENTAGES OF SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS THAT HAVE A BACHELOR'S DEGREE OR HIGHER

75%
  • Students end up spending one full year of their K-12 education with a substitute teacher.
  • The #1 request by substitute teachers is training in how to successfully manage inappropriate behavior situations.
  • The #1 request by permanent teachers and school administrators request that substitute teachers conduct themselves as professional.
  • The #1 request by students is that substitute teachers present stimulating lessons and exciting fill-in activities.
  • The #1 reason substitute teachers love their job is flexibility. The #2 reason is they like working with students.
  • The number one reason people like to substitute teach is the flexibility. The second reason is they like working with students.

Is Substitute Teaching Right for You?

Those who enjoy substitute teaching usually have the following personality traits:

Desire to work with children ages 5-18
Able to relate to and appreciate students
Can inspire a love of learning
Has a good sense of humor
Can be flexible and adjusts quickly to unique and changing circumstances
Sets a good example for the students (model citizen)
Love to learn
Willing to try new things
Patient
Kind
Fair
Consistent

Also, try the following to get an idea of what substitute teaching will be like:

  • Volunteer in a classroom
  • Attend the school district orientation meeting or a job fair, talk to the Human Resource department to get a feel for what it’s like to be in the classroom
  • Review the blog post Reasons it’s Great to be a Substitute Teacher
  • If you have a friend or neighbor that is a teacher, ask if you can observe him or her

 

 

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What Are My State’s Minimum Requirements?

Require College Degrees
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa**
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington**
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
Require At Least Some College
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Washington, D.C
Require High School Diploma or GED
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
Requirements Are Set By The District
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming
Links to the State Departments of Education can be found here.

*Minimum requirements are current as of 2013, but are subject to change. Check with your state Board of Education or School District for the most current requirements.

**Teaching Certificate Required

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How Do I Find My
Local School District?

1.  Asking a neighbor who has a child in the school system
2. Search online for school district offices
3. Check the local phone book

 

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How Do I Apply to Substitute Teach?

The fastest way to find out what your local school district requires is to visit the school district’s web site. Generally they will outline the necessary steps and you may be able to download the required paperwork. Substitute teaching jobs are usually listed under “Human Resources” or “Employment.”

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What will it Cost to Start Substitute Teaching?

Depending on specific district requirements, applicants may be required to pay from $50 to $75 for background checks, tuberculosis or other medical tests. Other fees may also be added for orientation, training courses, or licensing, which can range from $40 to $100. You should also be prepared to pay small fees to obtain your diplomas, transcripts, or certifications that may need to be submitted with required paperwork.

What Grade Levels are Best?

Each grade level in K-12 education brings its own benefits and challenges. You may be asked to specify which grades and subjects you have experience in or feel most comfortable working with. However, understand that a substitute teacher who is flexible and willing to adapt can find success teaching students of all age levels. And remember that substitute teachers who get the most jobs:

  • Teach multiple subjects
  • Work in all grade levels
  • Work in special education classes
  • Work on Mondays and Fridays when the demand for substitute teachers is greater

Successful substitute teachers know how to:

  • Recognize and praise appropriate behavior
  • Which inappropriate behaviors to ignore and which to respond to
  • Set and teach clear expectations
  • Strategies for handling consequential student behavior
  • Model expectations
  • Present lesson material in an engaging way
  • Have filler activities when the lesson plans end early
  • Work with students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds

These skills can be identified, taught, and honed further in the Substitute Teacher Handbook or online SubSkills Training Course.

Purchase Training

SubSkills Training: Choose Your Option

Basic Option A

$39.95

SubSkills Online Training Package

SubSkillsOnline_small2

Purchase now!

Here’s What’s Included:

  • SubOrientationTM Online Orientation –  a 25-minute video to orient new substitute teachers
  • SubSkills Online Basic Training Course – classroom management; teaching strategies; the professional substitute teacher; special education; other things you should know; more than 70 fill-in activities.
  • Online SubAssessmentTM  –  an online test to determine your understanding of the skills presented in the SubSkills Online Training Course. A passing grade is 85 or higher.
  • SubDiplomaTM certificate –  a printable course-completion certificate in PDF format. When you pass the SubAssessment and earn your SubDiploma, make sure to add it to your resume and let your school district know of your accomplishment.
  • Orientation Video

Basic Option B

$39.95

SubSkills Handbook Training Package

SubSkillsHandbook_small

Purchase now!

Here’s What’s Included:

  • Substitute Teacher Handbook 9th Edition
  • Fill-in activities you can copy and print
  • Online SubAssessmentTM  –  an online test to determine your understanding of the skills presented in the SubSkills Online Training Course. A passing grade is 85 or higher.
  • SubDiplomaTM certificate –  a printable course-completion certificate in PDF format. When you pass the SubAssessment and earn your SubDiploma, make sure to add it to your resume and let your school district know of your accomplishment.
  • What’s Not Included:

  • Orientation video
  • Online videos and tutorials

PremiumBetter Test Results - Better Experience

$59.95

SubSkills Premium Training PackageSubSkillsPremium_small2

Purchase now!

Here’s What’s Included:

  • This course combines Basic Options A & B into one simple package.
  • This package will give you the highest test scores and the best experience
  • Printed Substitute Teacher Handbook 9th Edition
  • SubSkills Online Basic Training Course
  • Fill-in activities you can copy and print
  • Online SubAssessmentTM 
  • SubDiplomaTM certificate 
  • Orientation Video

Ultimate

$79.95

SubSkills Ultimate Training PackageSubSkillsPremium_small1

Purchase now!

Here’s What’s Included:

  • Printed Substitute Teacher Handbook 9th Edition
  • SubSkills Online Basic Training Course
  • Orientation Video
  • Fill-in activities you can copy and print
  • Online SubAssessmentTM 
  • SubDiplomaTM certificate 
  • Advanced Classroom Management Online Course -The Advanced Classroom Management Package is a professional development course and assessment that teaches more advanced techniques when managing behavior. This course will help the substitute teacher understand these more advanced principles to become even more effective in the classroom.
  • Advanced Teaching Strategies Online Course – A professional development course designed to help substitute teachers understand the more advanced teaching strategies and skills required to become more effective in the classroom. Available for all current or prospective substitute teachers.
  • Advanced Special Education Online Course – a professional development course designed to help substitute teachers understand the more advanced teaching strategies and skills required to become more effective in the classroom. Available for all current or prospective substitute teachers.