Why Should You Be a Substitute Teacher?

If you’re thinking about getting into the field of education, being a substitute teacher is a great place to start.

It’s great for people who aren’t sure if they want to commit to the cost, time, and energy it takes to become a teacher. The initial substitute teaching license lasts about three years, which means prospective educators have a large window of time to decide.

Being a substitute teacher is a great way to see what you could expect from the profession.

What Do You Want to Teach?

Image Credit: From Jeshoots

Firstly, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to teach. A standard substitute teaching license is valid for K-12, which is a huge age range.

For elementary school, you’ll be teaching multiple subjects and have the same class all day. Middle and high schools, though, are where you’ll teach one or two subjects, but have multiple classes.

However, if you’re interested in ESL (English as a Second Language), special education, music, or computer literacy, you could find jobs at any school in K-12.

For example, before I became a substitute teacher, I thought I would only be teaching either social studies or foreign language for high school students.

However, after spending some time subbing around multiple schools and grade levels, I found that I enjoyed teaching ESL students and elementary school students the most.

Where Do You Want to Teach?

Image Credit: From Burst

In addition to figuring out what you want to teach, you’ll also have an idea of where you want to teach.

It’s common to have a list of schools you prefer to sub at, which is also great for schools that are looking for new subs to add to their preferred sub list. These directories only list subs the school likes and want to work with again. Typically, these subs will be contacted first for a job.

If you were thinking about teaching in the district you’ll be subbing in, it’s likely that you will make connections with the faculty, staff, and administrators there.

These connections will help if you do eventually decide to pursue a teaching license.

To expand on this, there were five schools I really enjoyed teaching at. I became a preferred sub at these schools (3 elementary schools and 2 high schools) because I came regularly and they always heard good things about me from teachers and students.

Even so, I also took the initiative to build a rapport with those schools. I had about a dozen business cards I made at home, and I would hand them out to school secretaries at the end of my first day at that school.

There were also a few times teachers heard about me and asked for my contact information, which was how I came to have consistent work.

At one point, I was only working in classrooms that had booked me at least a week in advance for teachers I enjoyed subbing for.

However, subbing was also useful for finding which schools I wouldn’t want to work at.

While classroom behavior is a major factor for where substitutes choose to teach, it’s different when you’re the main teacher. When you have your own class, your students will treat you much differently than a sub because they know you and your expectations for them.

In fact, what really determined whether I liked a school or not often came down to how the faculty and administration treated the students and me. Although this rarely happened, there were schools I wrote off after seeing the administrators act unprofessionally.

My reasoning was that if they don’t treat guests right, then they probably aren’t going to treat contracted employees right either.

Subs Can Have a Flexible Work Schedule

Image Credit: From Burst

There aren’t many jobs that let you pick what days and where you want to work, but subbing does.

Years ago, subs got a call early in the morning that told them where they were going to teach for the day. However, nowadays subs get to look at job postings and accept the ones they want.

If you don’t want to work a certain day to due other commitments, that’s fine.

Normally, there’s a minimum amount of days you’re required to work to remain active in the system per school year. But it’s not a difficult number to reach if you start working earlier in the academic year.

I enjoyed this when I was a sub because it meant that I didn’t have to worry about driving in snow or working when I was sick. This also meant that if I didn’t like working at a certain school or in a particular class, I didn’t have to come back the next day (unless I had already accepted a job to do so).

When you’re starting subbing, I recommend being open to many grade levels and subjects, as you might be surprised by what you enjoy teaching. I never thought I would enjoy teaching math, but after working with one 2nd grade class, I found that I did.

There Are Always Job Openings

Image Credit: From Jeshoots

Another benefit of being a substitute teacher is having job security. School districts might have quotas for how many subs they want to recruit, but nowadays there are more subs required to fill posts than ever before, as there is a shortage of substitute teachers nationwide.

Schools always have a demand for subs because teachers are out of the classroom not only for personal reasons (e.g. sick days), but also for school-related ones as well (e.g. administering or reviewing standardized tests).

Since substitute teachers are needed, this means that you’ll be able to find consistent work.

Are You Ready to Start Subbing?

As becoming a teacher requires a lot of time and money, subbing is a great way to see if teaching is the right career for you. The new school year is about to start, and I’m sure your school district would love to have you on board.

Should you be interested in becoming a substitute teacher in Nevada, here is a guide to The Steps Required to Be a Substitute Teacher in Nevada. If you are not from Nevada, you can check out your state’s requirements on this Certification Map Site.



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Rachel Millsap

Rachel Millsap

An educator from the Silver State who sews and loves history.