How to Become a Substitute Teacher

How to Become a Substitute Teacher

Photo by Luke Montague

School districts need substitute teachers on a daily basis to fill in for absent teachers. Assignments for substitutes range from a single day to longer term. If your long-term career goal is to become a teacher, beginning as a substitute teacher is a good way to gain experience in the field and try out the classroom experience.

The job of substitute teacher provides plenty of variety; you will work with many different students in a wide range of capacities. On any given day you may be covering a full day of lesson plans left by the full-time teacher or monitoring a class that is completing previously assigned work. If you take over for a teacher who is away on medical leave, you could find yourself in the role of full-time teacher for several weeks. No matter what your experience is as a substitute, you’ll learn firsthand what it means to be a teacher.

Like the requirements for full-time teaching, the requirements for substitute teaching vary by state. In general, substitute teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject area. Most states also require substitute teachers to successfully complete a competency exam and to undergo a background check. Some states make exceptions to these general requirements or have additional requirements, such as substitute teacher training.

We’ve included specific information about becoming a substitute teacher for a few states below. To learn more about requirements for other states, visit the state’s department of education website.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher in California
The state government of California issues an Emergency Substitute Permit that authorizes non-certified individuals to serve as substitute teachers on a day-to-day basis in preschools or K-12 classrooms for one year. The holder of the permit can substitute for 30 days or less for any one teacher during the school year. The permit is renewable on an annual basis.

The educational requirements for the Emergency Substitute Permit are completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. The Basic Skills Requirement must be satisfied by passing the CBEST, CSET or CSU exam. Application form 41-4 must be completed, as well as a request for a Live Scan background check. Application fees must be paid at the time of application.

There are separate Emergency Substitute Permits for career teachers and for prospective teachers who are still enrolled in a college or university degree program. For complete information about substitute teaching in California, visit the California Teacher Credentialing website.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Florida
In Florida, each local school district establishes its own requirements for substitute teachers. There are more than 70 districts in the state and the requirements vary from district to district. In accordance with state law, candidates who have no prior teaching experience must complete a training program that covers instructional strategies and classroom management. The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact school districts that you’re interested in directly. Contacts for each district can be found on theTeach in Florida website.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Texas
Like Florida, Texas school districts determine the requirements for substitute teachers. Typically, a bachelor’s degree, background check and medical examination must be completed. Contact information for each school district in Texas is available on the Texas Education Agency’s School District Locator website.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Georgia
Visit the Georgia Professional Standards website to check the requirements to become a substitute teacher in Georgia. Candidates must contact the personnel office for a Georgia school district directly to find out about substitute teaching. Priority is give to individuals with the highest qualifications.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher in New Jersey
Most school districts in New Jersey maintain lists of teachers who are qualified to serve as substitute teachers. The requirements and procedures for becoming a substitute teacher are determined by a school district’s county office of education. A list of phone numbers for county offices of education is available on the New Jersey Department of Educationwebsite.

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