What's the Average Salary of a Substitute Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a substitute teacher. Learn about job duties, education requirements, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Substitute Teacher?

Substitute teachers serve as replacements for teachers when they are unavailable. As a result, they get the chance to teach a variety of subjects to students of all ages; substitute teaching jobs can be found at the elementary, secondary or postsecondary levels. In addition to instructing students, they may also fill in for teachers' other responsibilities, such as cafeteria monitoring or study hall supervision. While some substitute teaching jobs only last for a single day, long-term substitute positions are available when teachers have planned long-term absences, like maternity leave. In these cases, substitute teachers may even be involved in faculty committees and act as sponsors for student activities.

The following table presents information for this profession:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Education, elementary education
Key Responsibilities Follow specified lesson plans, enforce rules, complete a completion report for the regular teacher
Licensure and Certification State license, teaching certification and/or permit is required depending on location
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers)*; 6% (for all high school teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $29,630 (for all substitute teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties of a Substitute Teacher

Your job as a substitute teacher requires you to teach classes when the regular teacher is sick, on leave or taking personal time off. Your schedule may not be the same every week. You may not work every day, at the same school or in the same class. Depending on your qualifications, you may substitute for elementary, middle school or high school classes where you teach a specific subject.

When you are substituting, in a class you generally use a lesson plan which has already been created for you. The regular class teacher may leave you notes about what is to be done that day. You may give a lecture, use visual aids, lead class discussions and administer tests. If you will be teaching the class for a period of time, you may grade papers and create your own lesson plans.

Other common duties for your job include chaperoning field trips, monitoring students on recess or in the hallways and attending staff meetings.

What Requirements Must I Meet?

The requirements for substitute teachers are set at the state level. Many states require some type of certification, license or permit. Most states have a minimum education requirement, which is typically a bachelor's degree in any major area. Some states, such as Nevada, according to the state's Department of Education, require a minimum of an associate degree (nvteachers.doe.nv.gov).

In New York, according to the state's education department, you must be certified as a substitute teacher or complete assessment and training (schools.nyc.gov). According to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, you must hold a substitute teaching certificate (www.epsb.ky.gov). In Wisconsin, you need a substitute license or permit, which can be a 3-year or 5-year permit, depending on your education and training (dpi.wi.gov).

Most states also require substitute teachers to pass a criminal background test and drug screening. It is also common for states to set limits on how many days you can work in each school year. Some states may have additional requirements if you will teach over the set number of allowed days.

How Much Can I Earn?

The salary of a substitute teacher may vary due to the irregularity in work schedules. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, the middle half of substitute teachers earned between $21,000 and $35,120 (www.bls.gov). The average salary was $29,630, per the bureau. You may use your experience as a substitute teacher to advance into a full time teaching position.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many substitute teachers aspire to become teachers themselves. The job duties are similar, but full-time teachers are also responsible for writing their own lesson plans. To work as a teacher in a public elementary, middle or high school, you need a bachelor's degree and a license. Another job option in the field of education is a position as a preschool director. In this leadership job, you would oversee all operations of a preschool center, including staff supervision, budget management and curriculum development. The minimum educational requirement for work as a preschool director is a bachelor's degree.

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