How to Become a Substitute Teacher

Substitute teaching can be a good way to find out if a career as a full-time teacher is right for you. This can also be a good way to transition into a teaching career in your district if full-time positions aren't available when you're ready to start working. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substitute teachers can earn a median wage of $29,630. Those in the top 90% of wage estimates can earn up to $44,400 per year. Substitute teachers are responsible for stepping in when teachers are away, and making sure classwork continues as planned. Typically, teachers will have lesson plans prepared ahead of time. But sometimes, substitute teachers will have to create their own plans, depending on the suddenness of the normal teacher's absence. Although the requirements for being a substitute teacher varies from state-to-state, there are standards you can expect to meet before stepping into the classroom.


First of all, you should plan on earning your bachelor's degree, at minimum. Although previous teaching experience may be preferred, it is not usually necessary. Most states do require some form of substitute teacher certification process or licensure to make sure you have the basic skills needed to ensure you're up to the task. Even though a bachelor's in education is not necessary in most cases, if you want to enter the field full-time, it can be your best option. This is especially true if you want to pursue a long-term career in the field, and continue your education. You can also expect to have a background check performed to make sure you haven't been convicted of any crimes that could make you a risk around children and young adults. Also, be sure to get up-to-date on your health immunizations, since most districts have requirements to hinder the spread of communicable diseases.

Although you never know what kind of class or courses you will teach as a substitute teacher, it helps to have a solid understanding of the subjects you will be teaching. While you are in college, consider taking courses in classroom management, child and adolescent psychology, and other topics that can help you connect with students. You will also have to learn how to work with a diverse student population in today's education landscape. If you haven't earned your bachelor's degree yet, consider talking with representatives from schools that offer programs in education. They can help you design a path towards the right degree that can prepare you for licensure or certification that you need to become a sub.

To become a substitute teacher, you will also need patience and flexibility in order to be an effective instructor for a variety of students with different learning styles and needs. You will also need to have a grasp of how to use basic office technology. Most of us remember from our school days that some classes can be tough on substitute teachers. Certain kids will think it's a free day just because their regular teacher isn't in charge. That's why you will have to have a thick skin in some classes and remain in firm control of the room. This doesn't require being mean or unreasonable. But this is also a good reason why a degree in education can be your best tool in being successful at the head of the class. If you want to know how to become a substitute teacher, your next best move is contacting schools to learn the education and license requirements for your state.