Substitute Teacher Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Substitute Teacher Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $35,250 Hourly Rate: $16.95

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Substitute Teachers in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Substitute Teacher:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Substitute Teacher Career Path Overview

The career path of a Substitute Teacher is both unique and fulfilling. It provides an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on teaching experience, while also offering flexibility and diversity in terms of the subjects and grade levels you can teach.

Education Requirements

The educational requirements for a Substitute Teacher position can vary greatly depending on the school district and state regulations. However, at minimum, most districts require a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. Some states also require substitute teachers to have a teaching credential or permit, which can often be obtained through a state-approved teacher education program. Continuing education is also important in this career path, as it helps keep your teaching skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Certification and Licensing

Licensing for substitute teachers varies by state, but often involves passing a basic skills exam and a background check. Some states may also require completion of a specific training program. Certification can further enhance your qualifications as a Substitute Teacher. Many professional organizations offer certification programs that can provide additional training and resources to help you succeed in your role.

Skills and Qualities

Successful Substitute Teachers possess a unique set of skills and qualities. They must be adaptable, as they are often called upon to teach a variety of subjects at different grade levels. They also need excellent communication skills to effectively convey information to students and collaborate with other educators. Patience, creativity, and a genuine passion for teaching are also crucial qualities for success in this field.

Career Advancement Opportunities

For many, being a Substitute Teacher serves as a stepping stone towards a full-time teaching position. With experience, substitutes can advance to long-term positions where they may be responsible for one class for an extended period of time. Some may even progress into administrative roles such as principal or superintendent.

Salary and Job Outlook

The salary for Substitute Teachers varies widely depending on factors such as the school district, level of education, and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Substitute Teachers in the United States was $31,510 as of May 2020. The job outlook for this profession is positive, with a projected growth rate of 4% from 2019 to 2029.

Professional Development

Professional development is key in the career path of a Substitute Teacher. This can include attending workshops, seminars, and conferences, as well as joining professional organizations. These opportunities not only enhance your skills and knowledge but also provide valuable networking opportunities. In conclusion, the career path of a Substitute Teacher offers numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. With the right education, skills, and dedication, you can make a significant impact on the lives of students while building a rewarding career in education.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Education and Training

As a substitute teacher, you play an essential role in the continuity of a student's education when their regular teacher is unavailable. This career path can be rewarding and challenging, offering opportunities to influence and educate young minds while gaining experience in different school settings. In this section, we will delve into the necessary education and training required to embark on a career as a substitute teacher.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for a substitute teacher vary widely depending on the state, district, and sometimes even the specific school. However, generally, a bachelor's degree is often required to become a substitute teacher. The degree doesn't necessarily need to be in education, although courses in child development, psychology, and teaching methods can provide valuable background knowledge. Several states offer substitute teaching certificates for those who have a high school diploma but not a bachelor's degree. These individuals typically must complete some form of pre-service training program before they can begin working.

Teacher Preparation Programs

Though not always required, prospective substitute teachers may choose to enroll in a teacher preparation program. These programs provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage a classroom effectively. They cover topics like instructional strategies, classroom management techniques, and understanding student behavior.

Substitute Teacher Certification

In many states, substitute teachers are required to have certification or a permit. The requirements for obtaining these credentials vary by state but often include passing a criminal background check, submitting fingerprints, and completing some form of training or coursework. Some states require substitutes to renew their certification periodically.

Training and Workshops

Many school districts offer training workshops for substitute teachers. These sessions provide practical advice on managing classrooms, implementing lesson plans, and dealing with common issues that substitutes might encounter. These workshops also serve as an opportunity for substitutes to ask questions and learn from more experienced educators.

Continuing Education

Substitute teachers are encouraged to pursue continuing education opportunities to stay current with teaching strategies and educational trends. This could include attending professional development workshops, enrolling in graduate courses, or seeking additional certifications. In conclusion, while the educational requirements for substitute teachers can vary, the career path typically involves obtaining a bachelor's degree or a substitute teaching certificate, participating in training workshops, and pursuing continuing education. With these credentials, you'll be well-prepared to step into any classroom and provide students with a consistent, high-quality education.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Progression

As a substitute teacher, there are several avenues for career advancement and professional growth. In this section, we will explore the career path progression that you can pursue, from entry-level to advanced positions within the field of education.

Starting as a Substitute Teacher

As an entry-level position, becoming a substitute teacher is often the first step for many individuals interested in pursuing a career in education. This role provides an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on teaching experience and familiarize oneself with various educational settings and student demographics. While requirements may vary, generally, a bachelor's degree and a substitute teaching permit or certification are necessary to start.

Advancement Opportunities

After gaining valuable experience and skills as a substitute teacher, there are numerous advancement opportunities within the education sector. Some substitutes transition into full-time teaching positions, while others may decide to specialize in specific areas like special education, ESL (English as a Second Language), or guidance counseling.

Becoming a Full-Time Teacher

For many substitute teachers, the ultimate goal is to become a full-time teacher. This transition often requires additional education or certification, depending on the grade level or subject area one wishes to teach. Once certified, full-time teachers have more job stability and typically receive benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.

Specialization in Education

Specializing in a particular area of education is another common path for substitute teachers. For example, some may pursue further training to become a special education teacher or an ESL instructor. These specialized roles often command higher salaries and can provide more opportunities for professional growth.

Educational Administration

Another potential career path progression for substitute teachers is moving into educational administration roles such as school principal or district superintendent. These positions generally require advanced degrees in educational leadership or administration, along with several years of teaching experience.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Regardless of the specific career path chosen, continuing education and professional development are key components of a successful career in education. Many districts offer professional development opportunities, and there are numerous online resources and courses available as well. Earning a master's degree in education or a related field can also open up new opportunities for career advancement. In summary, the career path progression for substitute teachers offers a wide range of opportunities for advancement and specialization. From starting as a substitute teacher to potentially moving into administrative roles, each step provides valuable experience and skills that contribute to professional growth in the field of education.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Specializations and Subfields

The career path of a Substitute Teacher is diverse and offers various specializations and subfields to explore. Each specialization or subfield provides a unique set of experiences and opportunities, allowing Substitute Teachers to expand their knowledge and adapt to different educational settings.

Elementary Education

Many Substitute Teachers choose to specialize in elementary education, which typically covers kindergarten through fifth grade. This specialization allows the Substitute Teacher to focus on developing foundational skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teachers in this subfield also play a significant role in fostering a love for learning among young students.

Middle School Education

Middle school education is another popular subfield for Substitute Teachers. This often involves teaching students from sixth through eighth grade. Middle school Substitute Teachers must be well-versed in various subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. They also play a crucial role in preparing students for the transition to high school.

High School Education

High school education offers a more specialized teaching environment. High school Substitute Teachers may be called upon to teach specific subjects based on their area of expertise, such as Chemistry, Algebra, History, or English Literature. They also assist in preparing students for college or vocational training.

Special Education

Special Education is a specialized field where Substitute Teachers work with students who have varying types of disabilities. These teachers need additional training and certification to effectively cater to the unique needs of these students. They work closely with other educators and parents to create an individualized education program (IEP) for each student.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL is another specialization where Substitute Teachers work with students whose first language is not English. These teachers help students improve their English language skills, enabling them to succeed in an English-speaking academic environment.

Adult Education

In the field of Adult Education, Substitute Teachers teach adults who are seeking to improve their skills, earn a GED, or learn new vocational skills. This role requires a different set of skills as these teachers work with students who often have different motivations and experiences than traditional K-12 students. By specializing in these subfields, Substitute Teachers can gain valuable experience and skills that can help them advance their careers. Whether it's elementary education or adult education, each subfield offers its own unique challenges and rewards.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market and outlook for substitute teachers are influenced by a variety of factors, including geographic location, level of education, and the specific needs of individual school districts. Understanding these factors can help aspiring substitute teachers make informed decisions about their career paths. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for teachers, including substitute teachers, is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. This rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, the demand for substitute teachers often exceeds the supply, particularly in certain regions and during specific periods of the year.

Geographic Location

Geographic location can significantly influence the job market for substitute teachers. In urban and suburban areas with larger populations, there may be more opportunities due to higher student enrollment numbers. However, these areas also tend to have more competition for positions. Rural areas may have fewer opportunities due to smaller student populations but may also have less competition. It's also important to note that some regions have a higher demand for substitute teachers due to factors such as teacher shortages or high turnover rates.

Level of Education

The level of education required for a substitute teacher varies by state and school district. Some require a bachelor’s degree while others only require a high school diploma. However, having a higher level of education or specialized training can make you more competitive in the job market. For instance, if you have a degree in education or a related field, you may be more likely to be hired over someone who does not. Similarly, those with additional certifications or endorsements, such as special education or English as a second language (ESL), may also have an edge.

School District Needs

The needs of individual school districts can also impact the job market for substitute teachers. For example, districts with high student enrollment may need more substitute teachers to cover for full-time teachers who are absent or on leave. In addition, school districts that are experiencing teacher shortages or high turnover rates may rely more heavily on substitute teachers. This can create more opportunities for those looking to enter this field. In conclusion, while there are many factors that influence the job market and outlook for substitute teachers, it's clear that there are opportunities available for those who are qualified and interested in this career path. By understanding these factors and tailoring your education and skills to meet the needs of school districts, you can increase your chances of finding a rewarding position as a substitute teacher.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Salary and Compensation

As a substitute teacher, your salary can vary greatly based on a variety of factors such as location, level of education, experience, and the school district's policies. In the United States, the median hourly wage for substitute teachers is approximately $14.31 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it's important to note that this figure can fluctuate significantly depending on the state or city where you're teaching. For example, substitute teachers in states like California and New York tend to earn higher wages due to the high cost of living in these areas. On the other hand, if you're working in a rural area or a state with a lower cost of living, your salary may be on the lower end of the scale. In addition to your base salary, there may also be opportunities for additional compensation. Some school districts offer extra pay for long-term assignments or for working in high-demand subjects like special education or STEM fields. Additionally, substitute teachers who hold advanced degrees or certifications may be eligible for higher pay rates.

Benefits and Perks

While substitute teaching doesn't typically come with the same benefits package as a full-time teaching position, there are still several perks associated with this career path. For instance, the flexible schedule allows you to choose when and where you work. This can be particularly appealing for those who have other commitments or are pursuing further education. In some districts, long-term substitute teachers may qualify for benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Moreover, working as a substitute teacher can also provide valuable classroom experience, which can be beneficial if you're considering a career in education. It gives you an opportunity to network with other educators, learn from experienced teachers, and gain exposure to different teaching styles and classroom environments.

Career Growth Opportunities

Substitute teaching can also serve as a stepping stone to more advanced roles in education. After gaining experience and proving your effectiveness in the classroom, you may have the opportunity to transition into a full-time teaching position. In fact, many school districts view substitute teaching as a form of on-the-job training and often consider substitutes for permanent positions. Moreover, if you're interested in advancing your career further, you could consider pursuing additional education or certifications. With a master's degree in education or a related field, you could move into roles such as school counselor, instructional coordinator, or even principal. In conclusion, while the salary for substitute teachers can vary widely, this career path offers flexibility, potential benefits, and opportunities for growth. With dedication and continued professional development, substitute teaching can lead to rewarding careers in the field of education.

Substitute Teacher Career Path Tips for Success

Starting a career as a substitute teacher can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are some tips for success that can help you navigate this dynamic and influential profession.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements to become a substitute teacher vary from state to state. However, most states require at least a bachelor’s degree. Some states may also require completion of a teacher preparation program and passing a competency exam. Continuous learning is essential in this field, so consider participating in professional development programs and workshops to stay updated with the latest teaching strategies and educational trends.

Gain Experience

Experience is a significant factor that can contribute to your success as a substitute teacher. Prior experience in teaching or working with children can be highly beneficial. Volunteering or working part-time at local schools, summer camps, or after-school programs can provide valuable hands-on experience. This will not only enhance your skills but also give you an insight into the day-to-day life of a teacher.

Develop Essential Skills

Substitute teaching requires a unique set of skills. Excellent communication and problem-solving skills are crucial. You should also possess strong organizational skills as you might have to manage different classes with varied curriculum requirements. Patience and adaptability are also key, as you will be dealing with diverse student populations and classroom environments.


Building relationships with educators, administrators, and other substitute teachers can help you gain insights into the profession, learn about job opportunities, and get advice on handling different classroom situations. Join professional organizations for teachers or participate in community education events to meet other professionals in the field.

Specialize in a Subject

Having specialization in a particular subject can increase your demand in the market. Whether it's math, science, English, or special education, being an expert in a specific field can make you more attractive to hiring schools. It also allows you to focus on areas where you are most comfortable and confident.

Stay Flexible

Flexibility is vital in the world of substitute teaching. Being open to teaching different grades and subjects, and being available at short notice can increase your chances of getting regular assignments. Remember, the more flexible you are, the more opportunities you will have. In conclusion, succeeding as a substitute teacher requires a mix of education, experience, skill development, networking, specialization, and flexibility. With dedication and hard work, you can make a significant impact on students' lives while carving out a rewarding career for yourself.

What is a Substitute Teacher?

A substitute teacher is an educational professional who steps in to cover the responsibilities of a regular teacher when they are absent. They play a critical role in maintaining continuity of instruction and ensuring that students' learning does not get disrupted. Substitute teachers may work across various grade levels and subjects, depending on their expertise, and they often need to adapt quickly to different classroom environments and teaching materials.

What are the Education Requirements for a Substitute Teacher?

The education requirements for a substitute teacher can vary significantly depending on the district or state. Some regions may require a substitute teacher to hold a bachelor's degree, while others might only require a high school diploma or associate degree. A number of states and districts also require substitute teachers to complete specific training programs or certification courses to be eligible for this role.

What Skills do Substitute Teachers Need?

Substitute teachers need a wide range of skills to succeed in their role. These include strong communication skills to effectively convey lesson materials to students, flexibility to adapt to different classrooms and teaching styles, problem-solving skills to handle classroom disruptions or difficulties, and patience when dealing with students of different abilities and behaviors. They also need good organizational skills to manage classroom activities effectively.

How do I Become a Substitute Teacher?

The path to becoming a substitute teacher typically involves obtaining the necessary educational qualifications, completing any required training or certification programs, and gaining some experience working with children, which could be through volunteering, tutoring, or other similar roles. After meeting these prerequisites, you can apply for substitute teaching positions in your preferred school district.

What is the Job Outlook for Substitute Teachers?

The job outlook for substitute teachers is generally positive. There is often a high demand for qualified substitutes as teachers take leave for various reasons such as illness, personal matters, or professional development. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific data for substitute teachers, but it projects a 4% growth rate for all teaching jobs from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

What is the Average Salary of a Substitute Teacher?

The average salary of a substitute teacher can vary widely depending on factors like location, level of education, years of experience, and the specific school district. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for all teachers in 2019 was $61,660 per year. However, substitute teachers often work on a daily or hourly basis and their earnings may be lower than full-time teachers.

What is the Career Advancement Opportunities for Substitute Teachers?

Substitute teaching can offer various career advancement opportunities. It provides valuable classroom experience that can be beneficial for those aspiring to become full-time teachers. Some substitute teachers may also choose to specialize in specific subject areas or grade levels to enhance their prospects. Additionally, with further education or certification, substitute teachers can move into roles such as school administrators or guidance counselors.