Few jobs are as flexible, varied, and rewarding as substitute teaching. Whether you want to launch your career in education, develop transferable skills, or simply earn a steady paycheck, becoming a substitute teacher is an excellent way to gain valuable experience. But do you need a degree in teaching to get started? Well, it depends on your location.
Across the country, every state, district, and school can have differing qualifications for its substitute teachers. At a minimum, though, you’ll be expected to have a high school diploma (or GED) and be able to pass a background check. Beyond that, it all depends on where you apply.
Regardless of your location, follow these three steps to figure out the requirements for your area and land your first substitute teaching job. Here’s a step-by-step guide on preparing for your first substitute teaching job, with answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Research your state and schools of interest.
Start by looking into state-level requirements, and then reach out to local schools to learn about their specific expectations and exceptions. Some states (like Colorado and Pennsylvania) require that you earn a license, certification, or authorization to substitute teach; others mandate that you simply complete their training courses. Some certificates for substitute teaching require that you have completed some college credit hours, an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher, sometimes in specific subjects.
Complete the necessary certifications, licenses, and training.
By now, you’ve seen how hiring requirements can drastically vary. Where you choose to work can have a tremendous impact on how much time, effort, and money it’ll take to land your first job. You need to think strategically about what makes the most sense for you.
If you plan on subbing long-term or want to become a full-time teacher down the line, you should plan on obtaining a bachelor’s degree or the highest level of certification for teaching in your state. However, if you think you’ll sub for less than a year, seek out schools with fewer hiring requirements. Certain states — like Texas, Florida, and Georgia — and private schools only require that you have your high school diploma or equivalent. However, while you may not necessarily need a degree to substitute teach, having one will increase your options and earning potential.
Once you have your list of minimum qualifications, go get them!
Submit your applications and background checks.
Every school will have its own application submission process, but it should be fairly straightforward after you’ve gathered all the necessary information and documents. Be prepared to schedule an appointment for your background check and fingerprint scan, generally done at a state-run or third-party location.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why become a substitute teacher?
Substitute teaching can be a fulfilling choose-your-own-adventure. You can set your schedule, choose which subjects and grade levels to teach, and make a meaningful impact on the lives of students of all ages.
Do you need a degree in teaching to substitute teach?
Not necessarily! Quite a few states require only a high school diploma or equivalent, including Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. See a complete list here. However, this may come with limitations regarding how long you can substitute and for which subjects and grade levels.
Also, keep in mind that you’re likely to earn more money if you obtain higher levels of training, education, or certification.
What’s the best way to search for substitute teaching jobs?
Some states work with a staffing agency to fill positions, and others use a centralized job board. You can contact each school and district individually to find out about current openings.
However, a recruiting agency may be your best bet. Working with a team like Teaching Nomad’s will help take the guesswork out of the job search process. Our experienced placement consultants have the recruitment and hiring process down to a science and can help you find the best available substitute teaching jobs in the U.S. and worldwide.
Register with us today, and we’ll answer all of your questions and find the perfect substitute teaching jobs for you. We can send you the best openings near you, pay for your background check, and even provide free training!