SUBSTITUTE TEACHER: Job Description, How to Become One and Tips

Substitute Teacher

Many times, substitute teachers have the option of working part-time or taking on longer-term positions when they become available. Additional details on the duties of substitute teachers, how to become one, and substitute teacher salary and employment prospects are provided in this article.

Who is a Substitute Teacher 

A substitute teacher steps in to teach in lieu of the regular faculty, for a short time (such as a week or a month) or the entire academic year. In the absence of the usual instructor, they ensure that the lesson plan is followed and the classroom is in order.

What is the Role of a Substitute Teacher?

Entry-level teachers who are currently beginning their careers as teachers before transitioning to full-time employment typically fill this function. Depending on immediate or even last-minute needs (such as when a teacher calls in ill), substitute teachers may work for a few hours each day or week and replace regular teachers on a daily basis.

When a regular teacher is taking a sabbatical or parental leave, for instance, they may occasionally fill in for them for a longer period of time. In this instance, substitute teachers have a set job contract and work full-time.

Depending on the school, the level of the class, and the teacher’s area of specialization, duties may vary, but they typically include: 

  • Following the curriculum and lesson plan 
  • Preparing instructional materials
  • Grading homework and classwork

Jobs Description for Substitute Teachers

Many districts list available substitute teaching jobs on an internet job board where substitutes can choose jobs that suit their requirements. When possibilities occur, smaller districts and private or charter schools frequently text or email substitutes. This might happen during the middle of the school day or 30 minutes before classes begin. For this reason, a substitute teacher’s ability to respond quickly and be readily available is crucial. Responsive substitutes will be noticed by schools and are more likely to be contacted again for further chances.

The duties of a substitute teacher for whom the instructor is filling in must be completed by substitute teachers. It serves as a temporary or long-term stand-in for the missing full-time teacher.

It is the substitute teacher’s duty to conduct lessons in accordance with the full-time teacher’s lesson plans and any associated tasks. The substitute teacher may need to develop lesson plans that fit the learning objectives of the class for which he or she is filling in when absences are unanticipated or prolonged.

Substitute teachers often have a few lesson plans and activities for popular subjects previously prepared and have good improvisational abilities because they can be summoned to work with only a few hours notice and perhaps very little knowledge regarding lesson preparations.

Common Tasks and Requirements for Substitute Teachers

State-by-state regulations for substitute teachers vary, as do those set by individual school systems. In certain areas, the requirements for replacement instructors are entirely up to the discretion of the individual school district.

All of the duties of a normal teacher are expected of substitute instructors, including;

  •  Teaching the scheduled classes, 
  • Adhering to the full-time teacher’s lesson plans (if the role is a long-term sub), 
  • Attending staff meetings, 
  • Responding to student issues when necessary.
  • Managing lunch or recess duties, 
  • Keeping track of student’s academic progress, 
  • Speaking with parents.

Effective Abilities and Experience

Districts wishing to fill teacher absences will compete to hire substitute teachers who hold state teaching certifications and endorsements in numerous subject areas. When a position opens up, those who have done practicals or internships in teaching may also stand out. Another effective strategy for staying at the top of the list when school districts are seeking substitute teachers is to keep up with teaching techniques and technological advancements.

Substitute Teacher Salary

The average hourly wage for a substitute teacher in the United States as of April 11, 2023, is $15.28. While reports have it that the hourly pay ranges from $7.21 to $25.72, the bulk of substitute teacher salaries now fall between the 25th and 75th percentiles at $11.54 to $17.07. 

There may be numerous prospects for growth and greater pay based on skill level, location, and years of experience because the typical salary range for a substitute teacher can vary substantially (by as much as $5.53). There is a strong demand for substitute teachers in Dallas, Texas, as well as its surroundings. In your region, substitute teachers make an average hourly wage of $15, which is $0.20 (1%) less than the $15.28 national average. Texas is ranked 36th out of 50 states in the country for substitute teacher pay.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher

#1.  A Bachelor’s Degree 

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for substitute teachers. Before starting work or after filling in for a predetermined number of days, some state boards of education offer a special substitute teaching license. Other state boards leave it up to local school districts to make the decision. While full teacher certification may be necessary in some areas, it may not be in others.

#2. Get Your Credentials Ready

The easiest approach to learning the requirements for a substitute teacher at schools close to you is to check with the local schools and state board of education. Additionally, several jurisdictions give emergency substitute teaching credentials in cases where there aren’t enough regular substitutes available for use in the classroom. As a result, emergency substitutes frequently have fewer criteria than normal substitutes. 

#3. Update Your Documents

These emergency certificates typically have a one- to two-year expiration date and may have restrictions on how many substitute days can be worked annually. For instance, emergency substitute teaching permits in California have a one-year validity period and only allow subs to teach for 30 days during that time. Holders of Arizona emergency sub credentials are only permitted to substitute teach for 120 days in the same school throughout each academic year. These certifications are valid for two years. The normal route to a career as a substitute teacher in a K–12 public school is as follows, keeping in mind that the process might vary greatly:

  • Get your bachelor’s degree.
  • If your state requires it, submit an application for a substitute teaching license.
  • Pass the exams necessary for licensure as a substitute teacher, if necessary.
  • After receiving your license, submit an application to the substitute teacher pool at your neighborhood school.
  • Complete any replacement hiring requirements specified by the district(s) to whom you are applying.
  • Start taking on substitute teaching jobs.

Most school systems keep a list of authorized substitute instructors who are contacted when a position opens up. It is also important to note that substitute teachers with regular state teaching credentials typically earn more money. The ability to accept long-term assignments will also be improved for those who possess a standard teaching certificate, as conditionally licensed substitutes typically have a cap on the number of days they can work.

State-Specific Requirements for Substitute Teaching

It is extremely feasible that school districts require a college degree, even in places where the sole educational requirement for substitutes is a high school diploma or GED, or when there are no state-wide educational standards. In light of this, it is crucial to confirm your eligibility by speaking with the local schools to learn about their requirements for potential substitute instructors. Given that they would be dealing with children, the majority of states demand background checks and fingerprints from substitute teachers in public schools.

Read Also: Where to find the best Spanish teachers

What is the Role of the Substitute Teacher?

In the case that a student’s normal teacher is unable to teach the class, a Substitute Teacher, or Sub, instructs and guides the students. They are responsible for controlling classroom conduct, swiftly analyzing instructional plans, and producing reports that show the progress of the pupils to their regular teachers.

How do You Describe Substitute Teaching on a Resume?

  • Follow the curriculum or lesson plan that the principal or the substitute teacher has provided.
  • To promote engagement and assist learning, use effective classroom management and teaching strategies.
  • Take attendance as per the rules of the school.

What are the Qualities of a Substitute Teacher?

  • Passion. The majority of substitute teachers seek more than just a paycheck.
  • A sense of humor, 
  • Interpersonal abilities,
  •  Adaptability,
  •  Stamina, 
  • Accountability, 
  • Confidence.

How Do You Introduce Yourself as a Substitute Teacher?

On the board, write your name. When introducing yourself to pupils, make a gesture to your name on the board so that they will know where to look if they forget. To connect with the pupils, it can also be beneficial to tell them a little bit about yourself.

How Do You Show Respect to a Substitute Teacher?

Respect the substitute instructor just like you would your regular one. Refuse to participate if your students act silly or disrespect the sub. Use your quiet symbol to signal appropriate behavior to others.

What are the Responsibilities of a Substitute Teacher?

They are responsible for controlling classroom conduct, swiftly analyzing instructional plans, and producing reports that show the progress of the pupils to their regular teachers.

What should a Cover Letter Include for a Substitute Teacher?

  • Utilize the appropriate cover letter format.
  • Design a polished cover letter header.
  • “Begin with a salutation and an attention-grabbing first paragraph.
  • Show that you’re the ideal candidate for the job.
  • Explain why you’re only interested in this position.
  • Add a call to action to your offer.


Before committing to a school for an entire school year, becoming a substitute teacher might be a wise approach to determine whether you want to be a full-time teacher in your area. In addition to allowing you to network professionally and potentially land a full-time job elsewhere, it can also help you transition into a teaching career in a district where there aren’t any open full-time opportunities.


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