Should I Be a Substitute Teacher? (With 11 Reasons To Become One)

Updated September 30, 2022

If you enjoy helping students develop in an educational setting, you may consider working as a substitute teacher. These professionals complete the tasks of full-time teachers, and their daily responsibilities may include attending staff meetings and delivering lessons. Pursuing this career grants you access to benefits like a flexible work schedule and a chance to develop your teaching skills. In this article, we help you decide whether you should be a substitute teacher by explaining 11 reasons to enter this career.

What does a substitute teacher do?

A substitute teacher is a professional who temporarily substitutes for a full-time teacher. A school may call for a substitute teacher to replace a permanent teacher who is on vacation, on maternity leave, or has an unexpected emergency arise. These professionals are responsible for completing a permanent teacher's everyday tasks. They may create lesson plans, deliver lessons, manage students' concerns, and participate in staff meetings.

Related: 36 Substitute Teacher Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Is a substitute teacher the right career for you?

To help you decide if a career as a substitute teacher is right for you, here's a list of 11 reasons to pursue this profession:

1. You may not need a lot of education

While some states require substitute teachers to have a bachelor's degree, others don't. Some states like Illinois and Wisconsin only require substitute teachers to have an associate degree or complete a certain number of college credits. Still, other states may only require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate and leave all other requirements up to the individual school districts. Before you seek employment as a substitute teacher, it's important to understand your state's and school district's requirements.

Regardless of the necessary education, you can learn everything you need to know while you train in this position. School districts may have different training procedures, but the programs can help you understand your expected roles to their full extent. During your training, you can ask any questions you have. When you begin to work by yourself, you can ask your fellow educators for assistance if you need help.

Related: Q&A: Can I Become a Teacher Without a Bachelor's Degree?

2. The job growth is positive

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have information on the job outlook for substitute teachers, it does have information for teaching assistants. This position has a job outgrowth of 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is slightly higher than average than the growth is for all occupations. Because a career as a substitute teacher is similar to the supplementary role of a teaching assistant, you can expect similar job growth.

3. It can help you advance your career in the education field

If you want to advance your career in the education field, you can first become a substitute teacher to hone your skills. In this position, you can network with other teachers and become familiar with how the educational system works. You may use your experience to find a position as a full-time teacher or transition into a role as a career coach or a guidance counselor.

Related: 17 Career Opportunities in Education Besides Teaching

4. You can travel

By working as a substitute teacher, you can have ample opportunities to travel. You may travel to different schools within the same district to teach in various work environments. You may also venture into different school districts or even cities and states, as long as you meet the minimum educational requirements.

5. You can experience variety in your work

As a substitute teacher, you can choose to work with students of different ages or accept work teaching subjects like math, science, and English. Most states don't require substitute teachers to be experts in the subject matter, so you can teach various topics. Depending on your assignments, you may lead activities and deliver lesson plans on interesting topics you might never otherwise explore on your own.

Related: Substitute Teacher Skills: Definition and Examples

6. You can establish a schedule that works for you

Substitute teachers have the freedom to establish schedules that work for them. They can choose which days they want to have off and which days they want to work. They may also decline jobs that don't fit their preferences.

7. You can have a positive impact on students' lives

Substitute teachers have the opportunity to positively influence their students' lives. They can alleviate the uncertainty that a permanent teacher's unexpected absence may cause. A substitute teacher can help students continue with their educational development and prepare for upcoming exams.

Related: 15 Jobs That Make a Difference

8. You can help schools with staffing issues

When permanent teachers have to take time off of work unexpectedly, educators and administrators often have to manage the workload. As a substitute teacher, you can relieve some of the stress that vacancies cause. In your position, you can ensure that other teaching professionals can manage their workloads and responsibilities without additional pressures.

9. You can pursue other work

Substitute teachers often don't work full-time, meaning that they have more time available to pursue other work. They can fulfill their goals of being a business owner while still having some reliable income. Retired individuals can also work as substitute teachers while still having time to engage in recreational activities.

Related: Teaching as a Second Career: How To Get Started

10. You can maintain a good work-life balance

While you can choose your schedule as a substitute teacher, you can also expect some stability. These professionals don't ever have to work night shifts or weekends. They also don't have to work during the summer and are free to travel or pursue other types of temporary work.

11. You may not have work to complete outside of school hours

Substitute teachers have some of the same roles as permanent teachers. They may have to manage students' behavior, follow lesson plans, and comply with classroom policies. Once the school day ends, short-term substitute teachers can often go home without the responsibility of grading student work. Substitute teachers enjoy having free time outside of school hours where they don't have to worry about school-related responsibilities.

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