What Is Required for a Substitute Teacher Certification?

Find out if substitute teaching is for you. Learn the job duties and certification requirements for substitutes, as well as the potential benefits of this career. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

Your necessary education depends on the state where you teach. Most states require schools to maintain a list of eligible substitute teachers and provide training for any subs who don't meet full-licensure eligibility standards. You could secure a substitute teaching job with as little as a high school diploma or GED, but many states prefer that you have at least some postsecondary education. You might be required to have a bachelor's degree, though the requirement for educational training varies.

Employment RequirementsHigh school diploma or GED, college level education (amount may vary by state)
Certification RequirementsTemporary permit or license needed for substitutes; full licensure required in some states; proof of enrollment in education program may be needed
Other RequirementsRegistration, criminal background check, license renewals
Job BenefitsFlexible schedule, supplementary income, many subject options for teaching, fulfills some degree requirements

Do I Need Teaching Certification?

Most often, you'll usually need to obtain a temporary permit or license, but you won't need a regular teaching license to be a substitute teacher. However, a few states hold you to the same standards as all teaching professionals and require that you earn a degree, complete and education program and obtain full licensure. You might need to only provide proof that you're enrolled in an education program or are in the process of fulfilling state regulations for a teaching license. Some states don't require any type of licensure for substitute teachers, but academic requirements still need to be met.

Are There Other Requirements?

You'll usually need to apply and register with the state to ensure you meet the requirements to provide substitute teaching services. You'll need to submit to a criminal background check and get fingerprinted. You might need to pass a competency exam to obtain licensure or a permit. Some states limit the number of days you can work consecutively or within a school year under a substitute's license before you're required to obtain full licensure. You might need to pay a periodic fee to renew your license or complete continuing education courses.

Why Substitute Teach?

You might consider substitute teaching for one or more schools to find the best fit for your teaching style or if there are no available full-time positions open in your school district. If you're a retired teacher, substitute teaching could supplement your retirement income, but allow you to enjoy the most of your time away from the classroom. Some schools allow you to select the courses you're most comfortable with or let you teach a number of class subjects, giving you the opportunity to weigh different options.

As a substitute teacher, you're free to teach in multiple schools or districts as work is available. In some states, you can use a substitute teaching position to satisfy experience requirements while earning an education degree.

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