How To Become a Substitute Teacher

Class discussion

Substitute teaching can be a wonderful job because of its flexibility.  In addition, becoming a substitute teacher can give you valuable experience in the field of education, and let you interact with children and youth on a daily basis.

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree. In most states, a college degree is required in order to become a substitute teacher.  The bachelor's degree does not need to be in education, however, but can be in any major. To work as a substitute teacher, a bachelor's of science or arts is required in almost every state.
  2. Take the competence test required in your state. Most states require a competency test to become a substitute teacher.  These tests measure basic skills that are needed in teaching, such as math, reading and writing skills, and critical thinking. 
  3. Obtain your college transcripts.  In order to become a substitute teacher in most districts, you need to submit your college transcripts to the district with your application.  You can order these transcripts from most colleges by mail for a small fee. 
  4. Fill out an application.  Whether the application is a paper one or the district has online applications, to become a substitute teacher, you have to fill out an application with some basic information, such as educational background and a work history.
  5. List your references. For those wishing to become a substitute teacher, both professional and character references are needed.  It is important to warn your references that they will be contacted so that they can prepare what they have to say about you.  If you have anything specific you would like them to mention, make sure to tell them.
  6. Decide which levels you would like to substitute for.  Some people only substitute for particular grade levels while others become substitute teachers for a wide range of age levels.  In some districts, substitute teachers may be needed for adult education as well.
  7. Learn the automated substitute system.  Most districts have automated phone systems with which they can call substitutes and substitutes can sign up for new jobs.  Sometimes these automated systems can be difficult to use.  It is important that you familiarize yourself with the automated system before becoming a substitute.
  8. Advertise yourself.  Since teachers in most schools can request substitutes, it is important to get in good with the teachers, principals, and -- most importantly -- the secretaries.  It is a good idea to leave a flyer in the teacher's mailboxes when you substitute, leaving your name, phone number, and why they should request you as a substitute teacher.

Becoming a substitute teacher is a great way to gain experience in teaching, and to have a flexible work schedule.  Whether you decide to become a substitute teacher for a short time or as a long-term career, knowing how to become a substitute teacher can open doors for your teaching career.  You can even qualify for better-paying substitute teaching jobs if you take online continuing education courses.


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