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What does a Substitute Teacher do?

Substitute teachers assume the role of the class instructor in the absence of the permanent teacher. With very few exceptions, most substitute teachers work in a typical school setting. However, they may be asked to provide tutoring in designated locations or to attend school-related events. Required to fill in for an array of grade levels and specialties, substitute teachers must go wherever they are needed for the day. In fact, many substitute teaching jobs can go on for days, weeks or even months.


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Working as a Substitute Teacher

Depending on if you are a short-term or long-term substitute, you will be tasked with the following responsibilities:

Short-term substitutes

  • Arrive to class in a timely manner. To be an effective substitute, you must be on time to receive the students when they arrive in the morning.
  • Taking attendance. Attendance policies are a major part of the school setting. Substitutes must accurately record attendance for all students each day.
  • Facilitate daily lesson plans. In the absence of the permanent teacher, the substitute needs to ensure the class stays on track by facilitating the lesson plans that are already in place.
  • Leave notes for teacher detailing pertinent events. Substitute teachers must call or leave notes for the permanent teacher to detail what occurred in their absence.

Long-term substitutes

  • Create lesson plans. If the teacher is absent for an extended period, they may not leave any lesson plans. In these cases, you must create lesson plans based on the subject and grade level you are teaching.
  • Collect and grade assignments. You will also be tasked with grading the assignments that you are giving the students.
  • Miscellaneous duties. Depending on the time of the year or how long you will be assuming the role, substitutes must perform tasks such as handing in grades to administering assessments and attending parent-teacher conferences.
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How much does a Substitute Teacher make in the United States?

Average base salary

Average $19.40
Low $12.42
High $30.31
Non-cash benefit
View more benefits

The average salary for a substitute teacher is $19.40 per hour in the United States. 18.5k salaries reported, updated at November 29, 2023

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Where can a Substitute Teacher earn more?

Compare salaries for Substitute Teachers in different locations
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How much do similar professions get paid in United States?

Elementary School Teacher

Job openings

Average $18.12 per hour

Special Education Teacher

Job openings

Average $59,802 per year

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Common questions about for a Substitute Teacher

How often are substitute teachers offered teaching jobs?

It varies depending on how many substitute teachers are available as well as how much work is available. Substitute teachers can get a good idea of how many teaching jobs are available in the area by contacting the local school board.

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Do substitute teachers work during the summer?

Yes, there are summer schools and other school related programs that require substitute teachers to work during the summer.

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Can substitute teachers become permanent teachers?

Yes, substitute teachers can become permanent teachers.

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Why do people get into substitute teaching?

Is it hard to get hired as a substitute teacher?

How many hours do substitute teachers work?

Do substitute teachers get drug tested when hired?

What is a permanent substitute teacher?

What are the licensing requirements to become a long-term substitute teacher?

What are the duties of a long term substitute teacher?

Are substitute teachers in demand?

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