Substitute Teacher: Education, Salary, and Outlook | Resilient Educator (2023)

Teaching Careers and Professional Development

By The Editorial Team

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Linkedin
  • Email

A substitute teacher’s role is vital to the smooth operation of a school. Substitutes step in, sometimes on very short notice, for teachers who can’t be in the classroom for anything between a single day to several weeks. Substitute teachers have many of the same qualifications as full-time teaching staff, though it’s also a common career track for new educators and future university professors.

Subbing for full-time teachers can be a rewarding and engaging career. The long-term prospects for substitute teachers are relatively stable, and the pay is consistent with other educators. The flexibility and future career options open to fill-in teachers can make this a very promising career option for many new and seasoned educators.

At a glance: Substitute teacher

Substitute teachers fill in for full-time teachers who need a stand-in for their class on days they can’t be there to teach. In the course of a regular school year, they often visit multiple classrooms, teach a variety of different subjects, and get to know students at many more schools in their district than regularly employed teachers.

The job of a substitute teacher

Substitute teachers perform most of the normal duties of regular teachers during the days when they fill in for them. Substitutes are typically called to work on an as-needed basis, so they must have very flexible schedules. Sometimes, substitute teachers only find out if they are working for the day with a phone call on the morning they are needed. Duties of a substitute include:

  • Taking attendance
  • Explaining homework to students
  • Continuing the classroom routine as much as possible
  • Maintaining classroom discipline
  • Following the lesson plan left by the regular teacher
  • Writing a brief report for the regular classroom teacher

Who makes a good substitute teacher?

It takes a lot of flexibility to be a good substitute teacher. The job usually comes with an unpredictable schedule and workload, since most subs have to be ready when a teacher calls out or leaves work early on the spur of the moment, and the classes you teach on Monday are rarely the same ones you’re teaching on Friday, or even on Tuesday. Successful substitute teachers have a broad command of most subjects taught in primary and secondary school, from math to physical education, and are ready to step in to teach whichever class needs a sub with little to no preparation. The ability to travel around a school district is helpful, since many substitutes work at multiple schools, and a strong personality helps to control a classroom full of kids who may become unruly without their regular teacher present.

An in-depth look at substitute teaching

Education requirement for substitute teaching

Educational requirements for substitute teachers vary a lot between public and private schools, and from one state to another. As a rule, substitute teachers at American public schools should have a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject like math or history. Unlike many teaching careers, substitute teachers can sometimes work without a full teaching certificate, even in states that usually require one for permanent staff. Some education training helps, usually 30 to 90 credits from an accredited program, plus some relevant experience teaching children and teens.

Certification requirements for becoming a substitute teacher

Most states impose lower certification requirements on substitute teachers than they do for full-time teaching staff. As a rule, regular teachers are encouraged to hold a degree in education, while substitutes can generally hold a bachelor’s degree in any teachable subject, plus a substitute teacher’s certificate. To earn this certificate, prospective teachers generally have to pass a proficiency exam testing their math and language skills. What counts as a passing score varies by state, and so the test should be taken in the state where you intend to teach, not where you attended college.

Substitute teachers’ salaries

Substitute teacher salaries vary from state to state, and from public to private schools. According to ZipRecruiter, substitute teachers earn the highest pay in New York, where the median wage is $14.94 an hour, or $31,071 a year. Wages are lowest in North Carolina, where substitute teachers average $10.56 an hour, or $21,962 a year. Payscale estimates the national average wage of a substitute teacher at $11.88 an hour, or $23,760 a year. Adding in non-wage compensation, such as performance bonuses, Glassdoor estimates an average total wage for substitute teachers nationwide of $30,714.

What’s the employment outlook for substitute teachers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substitute teachers in the United States can expect to see a 1.5% increase in employment opportunities through 2028. Much of this growth is in step with a general rise in the population of under-18 students, together with a relatively stable outlook for public sector employees, which is the bulk of the teaching profession.

Substitute teachers can work at all levels of education, from kindergarten to college, and jobs are available at both public and private schools.

Challenges and opportunities for substitute teaching

There are a lot of good reasons to get into substitute teaching, along with a handful of drawbacks. The people who do best in the profession are usually those who carefully weigh both the positives and negatives of substitute teaching as a career.

The Positives

  • Substitute teachers get to travel around their district and meet a lot of fellow teachers from other schools. These contacts can be professionally rewarding and help you grow as a teacher.
  • Substitutes meet a new class of kids almost every day, and the broad range of experience this gives helps later on, especially if you have a permanent class of your own.
  • Subs get to flex their academic chops by teaching multiple different subjects, rather than sticking to a single one for a whole school year.
  • Because of the short-term nature of most substitutes’ teaching responsibilities, it’s rare for them to have to manage the demanding needs of difficult students. Instead, the usual procedure is to document any discipline or behavior issues for the regular teacher and staff to take up later on.

The Negatives

  • The uncertainty of a substitute teacher’s workload can put a strain on the people who do it. Short weeks can result in less pay, while rapidly shifting assignments can send a substitute from one site to another on an unpredictable schedule.
  • Every day with a class is the first day, and the personal relationship the classroom’s teacher develops with each child is nearly impossible for most subs, who are generally only filling in for a short time before leaving.
  • Children and teens sometimes fail to respect or follow instructions from substitutes, which makes teaching a lesson challenging.
  • It is rare for substitute teachers to see a whole lesson arc through to the end. Instead, you are often expected to cover a single set of assignments from the lesson plan without having been there at the beginning or end of the chapter.

Substitute teachers’ professional development

Substitute teachers have a lot of room for growth in their careers. Many substitutes work at the job on their way to a permanent teaching position, while others use the flexibility the position affords to expand their training and prepare for a role in school administration. Substitute teachers with one or more specialized subjects, such as honors English or math, may supplement their income as tutors. Others make the move from subbing for junior high school and high school to college, where they can move up the academic ladder as associate professors in their field.

Continuing education

Substitute teachers must be licensed in every state, but each state has its own requirements for keeping a license valid. Some states have several different types of licenses a substitute can work under, and the continuing education requirements for them vary tremendously.

California, for example, recognizes the Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit, Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers, and an Emergency Career Substitute Teaching Permit. The first of these, the Emergency 30-Day permit, requires only the transcripts from the college where you earned a bachelor’s degree. The permit for prospective teachers, meanwhile, can be renewed annually and requires documentation of 15 semester hours toward your teaching credential. The Career Substitute permit has no specific requirements for continuing education, but to keep a valid endorsement from a school district, substitute teachers must attend all the same training and skills classes regular teachers in the district do to keep their credentials.

Professional associations for substitute teachers

While you might think of substitute teaching as a casual or temporary phase in the career of an educator, many people make it their primary career focus. To serve this community, several professional organizations offer resources for subs around the country.

In addition to substitute-specific groups, stand-in teachers also typically have the option to join regular teachers’ groups, including local chapters of the teachers’ union.

Best of the web

The internet has plenty of resources for substitute teachers, from career advice sites to informal communities where you can meet other teachers in the field. Professional associations and informational resources often maintain blogs and social media accounts where substitute teachers can keep in touch with the community and learn about issues affecting them nationwide.


Twitter handles

Ready to Research Degree Programs?

  • Research Master Degree Programs
  • Research EdD Degree Programs
  • Research Bachelor Degree Programs
  • Research Associate Degree Programs
  • Research PhD Degree Programs
  • Research Education Specialist Degree Programs
  • Research ALL Degree and Certificate Programs
  • Advertisement

You may also like to read

  • Montessori Teacher: Education, Salary, and Outlook

  • CTE Teacher: Education, Salary, and Outlook

  • Teacher Lesson Plans for Special Education Students

  • Physical Education Teacher: Job and Salary Information for P.E. Teachers

  • Teacher Techniques: Scaffolding Elementary Education

  • What to Consider When Looking at Special Education Teacher Jobs

Tags: Early Childhood and Elementary (Grades: PreK-5), High School (Grades: 9-12), Job Prospects, Middle School (Grades: 6-8)


How do you describe substitute teaching on a resume? ›

Objectives of this role
  1. Maintain maximum availability to accept assignments.
  2. Execute lesson plan consistent with teacher guidelines and school curriculum.
  3. Establish an orderly classroom environment and provide a positive learning experience.
  4. Become familiar with school emergency protocols, such as fire drill and lockdown.

What is the most important responsibility of a substitute teacher? ›

What does a Substitute Teacher do? Substitute Teachers are crucial for keeping the classroom running smoothly when the regular teacher can't be there. They manage behavior, quickly interpret lesson plans, and create reports that inform permanent staff members about what's going on in their classroom.

What is the most difficult task for a substitute teacher? ›

One of the biggest challenges for substitute teachers is keeping students engaged and focused. It's important to show the hiring manager that you want to keep students active to help them learn the course material.

Where do substitute teachers make the most money? ›

Top companies for Substitute Teachers in United States
  • School Professionals. 3.9 $1,125per day. ...
  • San Francisco Unified School District. 3.7 $248per day. ...
  • Los Angeles Unified School District. 4.0 $230per day. ...
  • New York City Department of Education. 3.9 $222per day. ...
  • Cross Country Education. 4.1 $217per day. ...
  • Show more companies.

How do I make my substitute teacher sound good on my resume? ›

On resumes for substitute teachers, put certifications and licenses in three places: by your name, in your resume summary (or resume objective), and in a special certifications section. Prove your substitute teacher skills in the experience section of your short term or long term substitute teacher resume.

Does subbing look good in a resume? ›

Yes, substitute teaching looks good on a resume.

Many skills are needed to be a successful substitute teacher that can translate into other roles. Even if a career in education is not your end goal, substitute teaching can give you rich experience and soft marketable skills that will transfer well into other fields.

What skills make you a great substitute teacher? ›

Below are some of the key skills substitutes can use to make their time in the classroom more rewarding and productive:
  • Interpersonal skills. ...
  • Leadership skills. ...
  • Critical thinking skills. ...
  • Presentation abilities. ...
  • Classroom management. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Organization.
Jan 26, 2023

What is the number one common trait of successful substitute teachers? ›

High Expectations

An effective substitute teacher must have high expectation. If you expect less effort you will receive less effort. You should work on an attitude that says that you know students can achieve to your level of expectations for the day or week, thereby giving them a sense of confidence too.

What are four basic questions you should ask when called to substitute? ›

5 Questions Every Substitute Wants Answered
  • Where is the restroom and do I need a key?
  • Where should I send attendance…and with whom?
  • Where's the vending machine?
  • Do you have any extra activities?
May 11, 2021

How to deal with disruptive students as a substitute teacher? ›

Redirect privately. Substitutes should discuss problems with disruptive students one-on-one. This not only prevents embarrassment for the student, but also allows substitute teachers to address negative behavior without spotlighting it or involving the whole class.

What should a substitute teacher do if instructions are missing? ›

No Lesson Plans: What You Can Do As a Substitute Teacher
  1. Consult Other Teachers. As part of your preparations, you should consult with other teachers in your department. ...
  2. Talk to the Students. Although this piece of advice may sound strange, you can also talk to the students. ...
  3. Communicate.

How much does a substitute teacher make near me? ›

Average Los Angeles Unified School District Substitute Teacher hourly pay in California is approximately $33.07, which is 129% above the national average. Salary information comes from 161 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

How much do substitute teachers make in my area? ›

Substitute Teacher Salary in Los Angeles, CA
Annual SalaryHourly Wage
Top Earners$62,390$30
75th Percentile$49,300$24
25th Percentile$31,700$15

How much does a substitute teacher make in the US? ›

A Substitute Teacher in your area makes on average $19 per hour, or $0.19 (1%) more than the national average hourly salary of $18.38.

How do you introduce yourself as a substitute teacher? ›

Introduce yourself to the students.

Write your name on the board. When you greet students, introduce yourself and gesture to your name on the board so students know where to look if they forget. It can also be helpful to share a little bit about yourself to make a connection with the students.

How do you introduce yourself in a substitute teacher interview? ›

Sample Answer: I am a very outgoing person who loves to be around people. I have been a substitute teacher for five years and have worked in several different schools. I am very adaptable and can work with a variety of students. Question: What would you do if you arrive to a classroom and there are no lesson plans?

How can I be a confident substitute teacher? ›

55 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Substitute Teachers
  1. Start with a positive attitude. ...
  2. Follow the plans. ...
  3. Go in early. ...
  4. Have some time-fillers in your back pocket. ...
  5. Make the last few minutes memorable. ...
  6. Try a fun math activity. ...
  7. Be sure to take attendance. ...
  8. Stay on task, and leave a record.
Sep 30, 2022

What should you not indicate on the resume? ›

15 Things You Should Not Include in a Resume
  • Resume objective statement. ...
  • Unprofessional email. ...
  • Full mailing address. ...
  • Multiple phone numbers. ...
  • Outdated or irrelevant social media profiles. ...
  • Personal details. ...
  • Headshot. ...
  • Buzzwords.

Which is to be avoided in a resume? ›

You have limited space on your resume to describe your qualifications and attract employers' attention. For this reason, avoid listing hobbies that are unrelated to the new position. If you have hobbies that apply to the role, include them in the appropriate section of your resume.

What should I not include in my resume? ›

12 Things You Shouldn't Include In Your Resume
  • High School Information. ...
  • References. ...
  • Personal Information. ...
  • Your Age. ...
  • Your Exact Street Address. ...
  • A Career Objective. ...
  • Your Current Work Contacts. ...
  • Your Personal Email Address.

Why do I love being a substitute teacher? ›

Many subs love substitute teaching because it gives them full control over their work lives. Substitute teaching means that you work where you want and when you want, and you never have to worry about working off the clock! If this sounds appealing to you, then substitute teaching might be right for you!

Why am I interested in being a substitute teacher? ›

Substitute teaching gives you the freedom that you typically don't have with a regular 9-5 job. Because you have a flexible schedule that you choose and have breaks off, it gives you time to work on your own side projects or side business while also providing a stable main income.

What challenges do substitute teachers face? ›

Perhaps the most daunting challenge that awaits any substitute teacher is the classroom full of students. New substitute teachers may worry about individual student needs, misbehavior, and how to keep a classroom of thirty students, or more, on task, focused, and cooperative.

How old are most substitute teachers? ›

Substitute Teacher Age
Substitute Teacher YearsPercentages
40+ years55%
30-40 years24%
20-30 years19%
Sep 9, 2022

What to do when students misbehave for a substitute? ›

Make rime during a class meeting for students to give each other compliments or appreciations about specific things they did to help the substitute. If you have to deal with a student who has been discourteous to a substitute, share your own feelings respectfully, and ask for help in rectifying the situation.

How do you survive substitute teaching? ›

6 Tips to Help You Thrive As a Substitute Teacher
  1. Get There Early to Prepare. When you start a new substitute teaching assignment, arrive early so you can get acquainted with your new surroundings. ...
  2. Get to Know Your Colleagues. ...
  3. Have a Backup Plan. ...
  4. Make Discipline Fun. ...
  5. Bond with Your Students. ...
  6. Let Your Personality Shine.

What should a substitute lesson plan include? ›

Your packet should include:
  • School emergency procedures such as fire drills and lock-downs. ...
  • Insights into student behavior and past problems. ...
  • Health concerns. ...
  • Special accommodations. ...
  • Map of the school. ...
  • Names of helpful associates. ...
  • Extra responsibilities. ...
  • Technology tips.

How do you write a substitute lesson plan? ›

General Information
  1. Include the times the bell rings, and any sort of rotating schedule, such as specials.
  2. Be clear about any extra duties—list what the duty is, where the sub needs to go, what time they need to be there, what they need to do when they're there, etc.

What should be included in a substitute teacher note? ›

Here are a few phrases you can say to finish your note:
  • It was a pleasure to sub for your class.
  • I had a lot of fun subbing for your great students.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to sub for your classroom.
May 19, 2022

What are the 4 essential questions? ›

What do we want all students to know and be able to do? How will we know if they learn it? How will we respond when some students do not learn? How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

What is the 4 question method? ›

Question One: What happened? (Narration) Question Two: What were they thinking? (Interpretation) Question Three: Why then and there? (Explanation) Question Four: What do we think about that? (Judgment)

What are the 5 main types of questions? ›

There are five basic types of questions: factual, convergent, divergent, evaluative and combination.

How do you control a class as a sub? ›

What are classroom management tips for substitute teachers?
  1. Classroom Tip #1: Build Rapport. ...
  2. Classroom Tip #2: Familiarize Yourself with the School's Systems & with Your Students. ...
  3. Classroom Tip #3: Use Active Supervision. ...
  4. Classroom Tip #4: Create Opportunities to Respond. ...
  5. Classroom Tip #5: Leverage the Power of Praise.
Jan 20, 2022

How do substitute teachers get respect? ›

While you may only be with the students for a short time, the best way to earn their respect is by being a mentor. I saw this firsthand when I was subbing in an urban school district and noticed that a veteran teacher in the classroom next door was always talking to her students in the hallway.

How do teachers deal with rude students? ›

Take a trauma-informed approach. Rather than blaming and accusing the student for their behavior, take a step back and consider that they are struggling in some way. Even if we don't know the reasons for the struggles, it's helpful to have empathy always. Be consistent with expectations.

How would you handle a difficult student answer? ›

Dealing with Difficult Students - Classroom Management Tips
  • Empathy is Your Friend. ...
  • Communicate with Parents. ...
  • Keep Your Cool. ...
  • Discuss Matters in Private. ...
  • Teach and Use Accountability.

Why do students misbehave with substitute teachers? ›

They might think that this substitute teacher is new and doesn't have the “school rules” figured out. The teacher likely doesn't know students' names. He may not be familiar with how to pace a lesson for students with special needs. She may have just rolled out of bed when the phone rang 15-minutes before she arrived.

Can a teacher teach without a lesson plan? ›

Every teacher needs to follow lesson plan for effective classroom teaching. Constructivism theory, Gagne's nine events of learning and formative assessment help to design an effective lesson plan. Lesson plan can assist to develop teaching quality. Students much preferred of lesson plan-induced academic session.

Do I need to take the Cbest to be a substitute teacher? ›

If you want to be a substitute teacher in California, you need a 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit. To get this permit, you must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, have passed the CBEST, and be digitally fingerprinted using LiveScan.

How much do substitute teachers get paid per day in California? ›

The California School District pays $95 per day for substituting, and pay can increase to $206.95 per day for long-term placement. The following needs to be completed before being eligible to substitute: Fill out Substitute Teacher Application- Click Here.

How much do substitute teachers get paid per day NYC? ›

The daily rate of pay, effective May 14, 2021 is $199.27. Substitute Paraprofessionals: Effective May 14, 2021, the daily pay rate for a substitute paraprofessional is $166.67 based on a workday of (6) hours and fifty (50) minutes, inclusive of lunch.

How much do substitute teachers make in GA per day? ›

Average ESS Education Substitute Teacher daily pay in Georgia is approximately $75.49, which is 37% below the national average.

How much is a teachers salary in California? ›

His analysis of 2021-22 compensation determined the median California teacher salary was $96,323 – $8,000 more than a comparably educated worker outside of education.

What state pays substitutes the most? ›

Substitute Teacher Salary By State FAQs

The highest-paid state for substitute teachers is Alaska with an average salary of $39,750 per year. What city pays substitute teachers the most? San Francisco, CA pays substitute teachers the most with an average salary of $39,574 per year.

What is the hourly rate for a teacher in the US? ›

A Teacher in your area makes on average $21 per hour, or $5.21 (33%) more than the national average hourly salary of $15.83. Texas ranks number 39 out of 50 states nationwide for Teacher salaries.

Is there a shortage of substitute teachers USA? ›

“On an average school day, our findings show that eight percent of the nation's 3.2 million public school teachers are absent, leaving administrators with more than 250,000 positions to fill with substitute teachers,” the authors write.

What is a fancy way to say substitute teacher? ›

Common synonyms for substitute teacher include relief teacher or casual relief teacher (used in Australia and New Zealand) and "emergency teacher" (used in some parts of the United States). Other terms, such as "guest teacher", are also used by some schools or districts.

How to make a substitute teacher resume with no experience? ›

How to make a substitute teacher resume with no experience
  1. Make a list of all the job duties and classes you have had. Getting a teacher degree in some countries requires a lot of time spent in university. ...
  2. List all of your volunteer experience. ...
  3. Soft skills are critical.

How do you use substitute teacher in a sentence? ›

He drove a taxi and found some work as a substitute teacher. This example is from Wikipedia and may be reused under a CC BY-SA license. She gained a teaching certificate in education, but preferred to work as a substitute teacher or tutor for the same reason.

What do you call a substitute person? ›

alternate, replacement, surrogate. someone who takes the place of another person.

What word is similar to substitute? ›

backup, replacement, stand-in, surrogate, replace, supplant, swap, acting, alternate, counterfeit, dummy, ersatz, imitation, makeshift, mock, near, proxy, pseudo, representative, reserve.

What to say in a substitute teacher reference letter sample? ›

I'm pleased to write this letter of recommendation for [teacher's name]. They worked as a substitute teacher for [school you work for] between [date range they've worked at your school]. I can attest to the fact they have all the requisite qualities to teach, including [list of positive traits].

What should I bring on my first day as a substitute teacher? ›

Be prepared

Here are some tips to ensure you're fully prepared to take on your first day: Prepare an emergency lesson plan appropriate for the grade level. Bring along your favorite 10-minute activities, games, and contests to keep the class focused if lessons finish early.

How do I make a good impression as a substitute teacher? ›

Here's how:
  1. Arrive Early. You expect students to get to class on time, so you should be able to get to work on time. ...
  2. Dress Professionally. According to recent studies, 55 percent of a first impression is based on appearance. ...
  3. Be Friendly. No one likes a negative Nancy. ...
  4. Leave a Detailed Note. ...
  5. Tidy up the room.
Sep 12, 2017

What do you say if you don't have teaching experience? ›

Focus on your achievements and training

Explain how your training, student teaching and achievements have made you a suitable candidate for the teaching position you're applying for. You can also reference any volunteering or non-teaching experience you have where you worked with children.

How to write a cover letter for substitute teaching with no experience? ›

Substitute Teaching Cover Letter Template
  1. Use the proper cover letter format. ...
  2. Create a professional cover letter header. ...
  3. Open with a greeting and a catchy first paragraph. ...
  4. Show that you're the perfect fit for the position. ...
  5. Explain why you want this job and no other. ...
  6. Make an offer with a call to action.
Jan 12, 2023

What is a good sentence for substitute? ›

Noun you'll be getting a substitute until your regular teacher is feeling better if you like, you can use nuts as a substitute for coconut in that recipe Verb One of our teachers is sick, so we need someone to substitute. They substituted real candles with electric ones.

What are some example sentences for substitute? ›

He was substituting for the injured William Wales. She is seeking a substitute for the very person whose departure made her cry. The printed word is no substitute for personal discussion with a great thinker. There is no substitute for practical experience.

What is an example of substitution sentences? ›

An example of substitution: 'I bet you get married [A] before I get married [A]. ' - repetition. 'I bet you get married [A] before I do [B].


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duncan Muller

Last Updated: 11/08/2023

Views: 6627

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duncan Muller

Birthday: 1997-01-13

Address: Apt. 505 914 Phillip Crossroad, O'Konborough, NV 62411

Phone: +8555305800947

Job: Construction Agent

Hobby: Shopping, Table tennis, Snowboarding, Rafting, Motor sports, Homebrewing, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Duncan Muller, I am a enchanting, good, gentle, modern, tasty, nice, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.