What Do You Need To Be A Substitute Teacher – Complete Guide

To become a substitute teacher, you must meet specific educational requirements and possess particular skills. The educational requirements for becoming a substitute teacher differ depending on the state and school district, but most require a high school diploma or equivalent.

Substitute teaching is a career choice for people who want a job with flexible hours, a chance to learn various skills, and if you want to start a headstart in your teaching career. Working as a substitute teacher allows you to gain experience that could help you get a full-time job elsewhere.

This article will cover everything you need to know about what you need to become a substitute teacher, why you want to be a substitute teacher and the benefits of this career path.

Who Is a Substitute Teacher?

A substitute teacher is a teacher who fills in for a regular teacher who is absent or unable to attend class. Substitute teachers work in various schools, from elementary to high school, ensuring that learning continues while the regular teacher is absent.

Substitute Teacher
Image Source: Freepik

The substitute teachers may need to make their lessons if they are called upon to teach a class on short notice. In certain districts, substitutes may be requested to cover additional classes or switch to a different class during the day.

What Does A Substitute Teacher Do?

Substitute teachers’ responsibilities frequently include:

1. Instructional Planning and Delivery

A substitute teacher should deliver effective lessons based on the teacher’s plans for the day while making necessary adjustments based on their experience and knowledge.

The substitute teacher should also monitor student progress and report back to the regular instructor. They should also keep track of who is present and who is absent by taking attendance.

2. Classroom Management

Substitute teachers must follow the regular teacher’s regulations and preserve classroom order.

They should be able to deal with behavioral issues while providing a safe and secure learning environment for the students. Also, they should implement appropriate disciplinary measures if they observe any inappropriate behavior by students on school grounds.

3. Communication

Substitute teachers must communicate effectively with students, the school administration, other teachers, and the regular teacher. They should evaluate students’ conduct and progress and alert the regular instructor of any difficulties or concerns.

4. Grading And Record Keeping

Substitute teachers should document attendance, homework, and assessments. They may also be in charge of grading student assignments and providing feedback to the regular teacher.

Related: Intervention Teacher Vs Classroom Teacher

What Do You Need To Be A Substitute Teacher?

You need the following to be a substitute teacher:

What Do You Need To Be A Substitute Teacher
Image Credit: Freepik

Substitute Teacher Educational Qualifications

While educational qualifications for substitute teachers differ by state and district, most demand a high school diploma or equivalent. Some may also require a certain number of college credits or a teaching degree.

Substitute teachers in California, for example, must have a bachelor’s degree or above, whereas substitute teachers in Texas must have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Substitute Teacher Certification

In some states, substitute teachers may need a substitute teaching certification. These certificates often require completing a training program or passing an exam to demonstrate knowledge of teaching tactics and classroom management.

Substitute Teacher Requirements

After you have met the qualifications and certifications, you will need to complete training and orientation. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The training program may include classroom management, student behavior, and lesson planning.
  • The orientation will cover school policies and procedures, such as emergency drills and reporting absences.
  • Substitute teachers should also continue with education to stay current on educational trends, teaching methodologies, and best practices.
  • Professional development workshops, conferences, and classes are all examples of strategies to keep learning.
  • Online courses, such as those provided by edX, Coursera, and Udemy, can also be advantageous for people looking to broaden their knowledge and improve their teaching abilities.

How To Become A Substitute Teacher?

To become a substitute teacher, you must meet specific requirements.

  • Depending on your state or district, you may need to obtain a substitute teaching license. This license typically requires completing a training program, passing an exam, and meeting other requirements.
  • Skills

    In addition to the above requirements, substitute teachers must exhibit critical skills and personality traits such as:

    • Effective communication skills
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Flexibility
    • Strong management skills and adaptability
    • Organizational skills
    • Time management
    • Computer literacy

    Developing necessary abilities is a process that requires practice, instruction, and mentoring. Substitutes might observe experienced teachers and solicit input from colleagues.

    How Can You Find Substitute Jobs?

    When looking for substitute teaching jobs, it is critical to be aware of the various channels through which they may be available. The following are the most common ways to find substitute teaching jobs:

    • School district websites: Many school districts maintain online job postings for substitute teachers, making it simple to apply for and find positions.
    • Education staffing agencies: Some organizations, such as National Education Association, specialize in filling educational positions. These organizations may provide access to a broader range of job opportunities.
    • Networking: Building relationships with teachers, staff, and school administrators can be a valuable way to learn about substitute teaching opportunities.
    • Attending job fairs: Job fairs are often hosted by schools, districts, or educational organizations and provide opportunities to meet with school staff and learn about open positions.
    • Volunteering in schools: Volunteering in schools can help build relationships with teachers and administrators and may provide opportunities to observe and interact with students.
    • Joining professional organizations: Professional organizations for educators can provide opportunities to network with other teachers and learn about job opportunities in your area.

    Read: How to Be a Good Preschool Teacher Assistant

    Tips To Be A Successful Substitute Teacher

    Here are some tips to help you be a successful substitute teacher:

    Successful Substitute Teacher
    Image source: Freepik

    1. Plan ahead: Always arrive early and prepare for the day by reviewing lesson plans and materials.
    2. Be flexible: Be ready to adapt to unexpected situations, such as lesson plan changes or student behavior.
    3. Maintain discipline: Establish clear rules and consequences and maintain a positive learning environment.
    4. Be professional: Dress professionally, follow school policies, and communicate effectively with teachers and staff.
    5. Be patient: Having patience and a good sense of humor will be helpful, mainly when dealing with students who may not take your lessons seriously or misunderstand a substitute teacher’s role.
    6. Use positive reinforcement: Reinforcing positive behavior and accomplishments can help to build a positive classroom culture and motivate students to continue learning.
    7. Build rapport with students: Taking the time to get to know students and their interests can help you build a personal connection and create a more positive classroom environment.

    Benefits of Being a Substitute Teacher

    Substitute teaching is not a full-time job, so why do you want to be a substitute teacher? You can consider the following ones.


    You can work when and where you want. This allows you to achieve a better work-life balance and take time off as needed.


    You can gain experience with various teaching styles, classroom management techniques, and educational environments. This exposure helps you develop your teaching skills and allows you to learn from experienced educators.


    You can network with other educators, administrators, and support staff. This can lead to future job opportunities, recommendations, and a better understanding of the educational system.

    Improved communication skills

    Interacting with students, colleagues, and parents can help you improve your communication skills. You may encounter different communication styles, which can help you become more adaptable and effective in various situations.

    Opportunities for advancement

    You can seek professional development by attending conferences, taking courses, or learning new techniques. This keeps you updated on recent educational trends and career advances.

    Diverse experiences

    You can work in different schools, grade levels, and subjects, which exposes you to various experiences. This can be an enriching experience that allows you to work with other age groups, demographics, and learning styles.


    Here are other frequently asked questions.

    What are the disadvantages of being a substitute teacher?

    The disadvantages of being a substitute teacher include; inconsistent work, modest pay, and unfamiliarity with classroom routines and students. It also includes difficulties with classroom management and discipline.

    How much do substitute teachers get paid?

    This varies greatly depending on location and school district, but the average hourly rate in the US is around $14-20 per hour. Some districts may pay more or less, and rates may also be higher for long-term or certified substitute teachers.


    Being a substitute teacher is an excellent way to gain teaching experience while making a difference in students’ lives. So, what do you need to be a substitute teacher?

    To become a substitute teacher, you must have the necessary educational qualifications and skills. Other requirements include obtaining your substitute teaching license, training, and orientation. Remember, these requirements may vary from state to state.

    You can be a successful substitute teacher and contribute significantly to students’ education if you are determined and ambition to be a substitute teacher.

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