All You Need to Know About Substitute Teaching

The job market is wildly unpredictable. Depending on the year, it can be difficult for educators – especially newly graduated ones – to find a permanent position with a school. If your job searching process is taking longer than you expected, you may want to seriously consider looking into substitute teaching.

Practical experience is more important than ever in today’s job market, and you can’t immediately secure a teaching position following graduation, or wish to obtain more experience in the teaching field, substitute teaching may be an avenue allowing you to do so. When full-time teachers are unavailable due to illness, family responsibilities, or personal or professional conferences, substitute teachers may be called in. Some districts tend to hire permanent staff from their available substitute teacher pool when positions become available, so this could also be a way of moving gradually into a position or secure employment.

Approximately 270,000 substitute teachers are employed across the United States, and approximately 1 full year of a student’s K–12 education is taught by substitute teachers.

Qualifications for a substitute vary by district and according to need. However, a bachelor’s degree or enrollment in the final years of a teacher college program is usually the absolute minimum requirement. Many districts with a shortage of substitute teachers relax the qualifications simply to be able to cover the classes. Some may require certified teachers for long-term substitute teaching when the full-time teacher must take an extended leave of absence (e.g., maternity or medical leave).

To obtain a substitute teaching position, inquire at the office of the district where you wish to teach, or check the district Web site for details. The process for being added to the substitute list differs from district to district. If you do decide to accept a position as a substitute, know that you are playing an important part in helping keep a classroom running. Your presence enables education to keep going. While your role may be temporary, it is still extremely important!

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