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Substitute Teacher Job Description

General tasks of substitute teachers include instructing students on those days when the regular teachers can’t make it to the lesson for some reason.

They usually work with classes from kindergarten to twelfth grade.

Substitute teachers usually work at multiple schools at the same time since it’s impossible to tell when the regular teacher will miss a day or more.

A substitute teacher may have assignments for just a day or a few months.

Even though the schedule is chaotic in general, the employment rate is expected to grow by 6% by 2024.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substitute teachers can make the most at junior colleges, trade, and technical schools, state government (with OES designation), social and civic organizations, and the management of companies.

Job Overview

In 2015, the median salary of a substitute teacher was estimated at $26,830 annually, or $12.90 hourly, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On PayScale though, it is reported that substitute teachers can make twice as much with bonuses and overtime work.

Substitute Teacher job

The highest level of employment for substitute teachers is reported to be in California, New York, Texas, Michigan, and Virginia.

However, these states don’t offer the highest salaries to substitute teachers.

Substitute teachers make the most in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California, and West Virginia.

The responsibilities are generally the same in all states.

Substitute teachers are typically independent contractors who replace regular teachers for some time.

To increase your income as a substitute teacher, the best way is to sign up with many schools at a time.

As soon as they are signed with many schools, their chances of finding work increase.


Each workplace may imply different responsibilities depending on the specific requirements for the position.

However, the duties of a substitute teacher mostly overlap.

The most common responsibilities of a substitute teacher include:

  • Conduct learning procedures.
  • Meeting the different goals and objectives of the curriculum.
  • Following the plans of lessons, units, and projects.
  • Use instructional procedures and materials.
  • Identifying the right techniques for achieving the best results.
  • Following the guidelines and procedures of a school.
  • Checking attendance.
  • Ensuring the tidiness and good organization of the classroom.
  • Ensuring that the blackboard is wiped.
  • Following the same regulations and rules as the regular teachers do.
  • Keeping up with the recommended teaching procedures.
  • Maintaining relations between students, parents, and teachers.
  • Reporting to the school administration at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Receiving and returning materials.
  • Following sign-up procedures.
  • Creating the classroom environment appropriate to the students’ needs.
  • Keeping up students’ interests and attention to the lesson.
  • Ensuring that the students are never unattended.
  • Fulfilling the duties of the absent teacher (lunchroom duty, hall monitoring, etc.).
  • Leaning the evacuation procedures and routes for the assigned classrooms.
  • Being aware of the procedures relating to lesson-disturbing or uncooperative students.
  • Handling disciplinary problems.
  • Fulfilling the duties assigned by the school principal.
  • Creating an environment of mutual respect and correctness.
  • Ensuring the safety of students and school property.
  • Collecting and checking assignments and papers from students.
  • Grading and returning the papers and assignments.
  • Ensuring that the students understand the applied grading system.
  • Promoting a non-discriminatory attitude in classrooms.
  • Directing the extracurricular activities, including those outdoors.
  • At the end of the day, filing the reports.
  • Making the necessary arrangements and inquiries for the following day.


Substitute teachers need to possess the same set of skills and regular teachers, plus some additional.

Without them, they won’t be able to do their job efficiently.

Surely, the job is very demanding and most people would be left exhausted at the end of the day.

Some of the qualities and skills essential for substitute teachers include:

  • The ability to follow written and verbal instructions.
  • The ability to establish efficient work relations quickly.
  • Being comfortable to stand and sit for a long time.
  • Being able to establish personal relations with students daily.
  • Understand and follow the plans for the lessons.
  • Know how to handle at-risk students and students with special needs.
  • The ability to discipline a classroom.
  • The ability to keep students engaged.
  • Being able to understand bad calligraphy.
  • Highly advanced classroom management skills.
  • Know how to manage records of students.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • A fondness for working with children.
  • Extremely high level of patience.
  • A highly functional moral compass.
  • Outstanding memory.
  • Strong organization skills.
  • Being somewhat flexible with procedures and methodologies.
  • Being highly creative.
  • A certain degree of playfulness.
  • Quick reflexes and wits.
  • Being able to improvise.
  • Absence of a criminal record.

Training and Qualifications

The educational requirements can be different from one state to another as well as depend on the employment industry.

They can be as minimal as a high school diploma or GED, or as advanced as a bachelor’s degree or a state teaching certification.

There can be additional requirements in private schools.

For example, tuberculosis tests or background checks.

Those who want to obtain a profession of a substitute teacher can acquire such requirements from universities providing programs specifically for this specialty.

One of the most significant requirements of this type is for the K-12 program.

K-12 or ELHI stands for primary and secondary education grades ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

This is applicable to the US, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, and other countries.


As per PayScale reports, not many substitute teachers work for as many as twenty years in the position.

This is due to the low raises offered for the substitute teachers.

Thus, working for 20 years as a substitute teacher one can get a raise of only up to $3,000 more.

Most people who take the job of a substitute teacher eventually move up to the full-time teaching or to other jobs with better payment.

This may seem negative, but it’s actually not.

The job of a substitute teacher is one of the most demanded entry-level jobs because new employees can acquire some experience.

Career Outlook

Statistically, 79% of substitute teachers are women and only 21%, are men.

Both have a quite high level of job satisfaction.

However, the payment in this position is quite low.

Besides, substitute teachers don’t receive any health benefits.

The BLS reports that the employment rate for this profession is expected to increase by 6% until 2024.

Although, the job abandonment levels are rather high.

With this position being very sought-after, the high abandonment levels don’t really influence the job prospects.

While many people are leaving the occupation, there are many employees willing to take their place.

Besides, there are multiple other jobs in the field that can be easily obtained with some experience.

Even though there’s a high level of quitting in this position, the work as a substitute teacher can bring great opportunities.

While the job is complex and can be stressful, it’s a very useful experience and training exercise for those who seek full-time teaching positions.

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