Posted by: carllundi | 02/12/2012

Why You Should Consider Being a Substitute Teacher

Let me begin this post by saying outright that I love my job. I love being a substitute teacher so much that I want others to be involved as well. So much that I am actually willing to sit down and spend time blogging about it when I receive no personal benefit or gain from doing so. This entry will examine why I think that it is a good idea for those whose circumstances allow for it to strongly consider becoming a substitute teacher.
Allow me to start with where I left off- circumstances. I don’t think it is advantageous for all people to try to land a job as a substitute teacher, particularly those who are the primary sources of income for their household or who are in dire need of cash. It’s not that you can’t make money in this field–it’s just that I would not recommend having this job as your only means of getting pay, unless of course, you have another career or a person living with you who brings in a good enough salary to support you and other mouths abiding under the same roof. It’s a great prospect for someone like me- a person trying to earn some extra money on the side while trying to further his college education to pursue a much more lucrative career (and if you were wondering, I have no aspirations of becoming a full-time teacher whatsoever at this point in time).
Another important preliminary point that needs to be addressed early- who can qualify to become a substitute teacher? Not just anyone can ask for an application and receive a job. In short, an AA certificate or roughly 2 years of college experience is needed for the job. Also, my employer, Kelly Services, requires applicants to be able to pass a drug test in addition to having a clean criminal record. If you meet these three requirements, then you will automatically get hired. Seriously, they WILL hire you. 99% of people who get an interview get the job.
So just why should you become a substitute teacher? Consider the following.
  • TIME FLEXIBILITY- Unlike almost all jobs, with substitute teaching, you are your own boss as far as time is concerned. You don’t follow a rigid schedule that may change from week-to-week. Since YOU decide when you want to work, you always know your schedule. Therefore, you can decide your schedule for the rest of the month, or even the school year. Gone is the need to request time off. Gone is the hassle of peeking at the work schedule in anguish to see if you’re scheduled to work during the week you’re planning on getting out of town. Don’t feel like working a few days? Go for it! Have some school assignments that are due soon or want to spend some time doing housework, religious activity or other important things that call for attention? Go ahead; take a day off! What if you want some money to save up for an NBA game, concert, or for a cruise? Unlike jobs at retail stores, where you have to beg for more hours and take others’ shifts, you work as often or as little as you want. This is one of the beauties of the job- you work when you feel like it, and how often you want to.
  • ALL NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS OFF- Being a substitute teacher ensures you one thing- you will  NEVER work at night or on the weekends. In fact, it is impossible to. The latest you will ever work is about 5pm (if you do Middle School and you hang around later than the 4pm dismissal time). So all of your nights and weekends are always open to do whatever it is you wish to do.
  • JOB AVAILABILITY– As a substitute teacher, naturally, your work will take place at a school. This is good news, especially if you live in a big County. For example, in Orange County, there are HUNDREDS of schools, ranging from Elementary, Middle, High, and other special institutions, daycares, and academies. Multiply the tens of jobs available in each grade at each school, and you’re looking at a lot of job possibilities. To give you an insider view on exactly how much, every Friday in Orange County there are about 1,100 teacher absences- which means about 1,100 different jobs that you can work. So you can afford to be picky, like me. I only work at schools within 10 miles of my home, saving me gas money and limiting time spent in transportation. Only want to work with elementary classes? That’s fine. Want to focus on high school? You can do that. Again, flexibility is key. You’ll always find work; never have I gotten up to look for a job and was left empty-handed.
  • VARIED ACTIVITY- The job itself can take place in a variety of settings. One day you can be teaching a kindergarten class how to count, the next you can be guiding high school seniors through algebra. Or you could find yourself playing kickball subbing a PE class with middle schoolers. The job load is always different, the most of which is seriously too easy. And don’t worry, you are not expected to know how to do EVERYTHING- most of the time, you are expected just to keep the class under control and hand out worksheets. (for example, I’ve done foreign-language classes when I did not know how to speak the language I was subbing for). So the job never gets boring, or stays in the same routine. It gets exciting.

Other areas I find to be personal perks

  • My employer, Kelly Services, pays weekly. Who wouldn’t like that?
  • If you’re a social person like me, this is a dream job. You’re rarely by yourself (only during lunchtimes and when you have your planning periods).
  • You’re indoors all the time. (unless you’re doing a PE class of course)
  • You can make an impact! I always try to make a positive impression on the young minds I am in charge of, as they are tomorrow’s stars.
  • No uniform. You wear whatever is professional but not formal (i.e. no ties, dress shirts). You have much flexibility in this regard.
  • It’s straight-up easy. Seriously, it doesn’t even feel like work. I actually look forward to working, unlike my last jobs where I viewed them as chores.

But it would be unrealistic to sit here and say that this job is perfect, not having any downsides. So what about some possible negatives?

  1. Early-bird special. I mentioned earlier that the latest you will ever work is about 5pm. Conversely, to get out early means you have to get up early. It doesn’t bother me, but if it is a problem for you, then you may want to avoid high schools, as they start at 7am (but at least you’re done with work at 2!). Elementary schools typically start at 8am and you’re done by 3pm, and as was stated, middle schools start around 9am and end at 4pm.
  2. If you hate kids, then avoid this job. For me, I love working with kids and young adults (high schoolers). I personally avoid subbing for middle schoolers, as they are often supremely annoying at that stage in their lives.
  3. You can’t work during vacations or breaks. While this may sound like a good thing, it can be detrimental if you need money during July and early August, when there is no public school. To combat this, you may need to work more when there is school or try to get a temporary summer job.

And honestly, that’s basically it! I can’t think of any other “bad” things about being a substitute teacher!

This blog post was not designed to answer every question you may have about substitute teaching. For example, you may have noticed that I left out information regarding pay, training, and other seemingly important areas. Have any questions on these or other things related to substitute teaching? Why not check out their website here?

If you have any further inquires, you can contact me via my personal Twitter page, or email me at Who knows? You may find being a substitute teacher to be even more fun than I do!


  1. You really gave me something to think about! Thank you for all the information!

    • Of course! If you’re in need of any other information, I’m always here!

  2. I have a job interview at Kelly services in Orlando coming up. Would you be able to tell me a little bit about the interview process?

    • Yes, Falesha, I would love to! I, too, am an employee with Kelly Services in Orange County.

      For starters, your interview is more like orientation. If you meet the requirements to be a substitute teacher, it is as if they are already assuming you will get the position, so they groom you for substitute teaching.

      They will go over procedures, methods, and to-dos and not-to-dos in the classroom. They will cover bullying and the need to be aware of being keen to signs of abuse. Orientation is about 3 hours, so prepare yourself. However, they make it very interactive and personal, having assignments that you must perform with the help of your fellow prospective substitute teacher buddies.

      Be sure that you bring alllll the materials needed. And make sure that you are looking good, as they will take a photo ID for your badge! There is an actual interview, but it lasts for about 10 minutes and they basically want to see that you brought all the necessary materials. Have I helped you?

  3. Thanks for the great info. You have been an excellent resource.

    • Glad I could be of assistance, Pam! Thanks for reading!

  4. I can’t wait to substitute teach! This article has me so excited!

    • I am glad I could rouse up your spirit!! I hope it goes well! Feel free to contact me for any helpful tips!

    • And thank you for reading!

  5. Thanks so much for your post! I am at a time when I need to have a job like this. I think I am going to try it! Loved reading your blog.

    • If your circumstances allow for it, I think everyone should give it a go! You cannot beat the flexibility in work hours! Plus you have a chance to positively affect the youths of our community! Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know!

    • And thanks for reading!

    • How is it going? Are you having a good subbing experience? Thanks for the read!

  6. Iam a only 23 and haven’t started school bc I didn’t know if I really wanted to teach or not. I really wanted to try this out bc Iam a mom and wife and wanted something with a little flexibility to allow me to still participate in family life. This blog was a great read. Very encouraging and informative. Thank you for posting this! You are a blessing. God bless you!!!❤

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! The flexibility that comes with this job is truly a blessing! And thank you for reading!!🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words! Thank you for reading!!

  7. Excellent post! Thanks so much for giving an in-depth look at subbing. And this was quite a well written article – loved the conversational tone and positive voice throughout.🙂

    • Thank you so much for the feedback and for reading, Leah! I hope I was able to be of help!

    • Thank you for your positive feedback and you taking the time to read!!

  8. I am scheduled for my interview next week and I am wanting to the the pay rate for being a substitute. I plan on working as much as a I can and would really like to know the average income I am likely to bring in.

    • Do you want hourly or salary figures?

  9. Very helpful thank you very much.

    • Thank you for reading! Glad I could help!

    • Thank you for reading!

      • i really enjoyed this reading as well …..

      • Thank you for the read, Tee!

  10. Hey, I have an interview on Tuesday and I Do not have a copy of my official transcript but my school said they would mail a copy to them do you think it is a huge problem if I just bring a copy of the transcript or should I reschedule?

    • They’re gonna ask for a copy of it. They want you to have everything there with you. Do you have your AA certificate?

    • I am so sorry for the late reply, did it all work out?

  11. I do have my AA but not the actual certificate I just moved so as far as a copy of my transcript I can provide that however, i can not provide and OFFICIAL transcript😦 ..and I am not sure if they have received it by mail

    • If you have a copy of it, I don’t think it would hurt to try. PERSONALLY, I would go in and try it and see what happens. You might as well. If they don’t accept it, they’ll just reschedule you as soon as it works out for both of you.

  12. Okay, ah I’m super nervous but, thank you so much for the advice Carl! 🙂 your blog was awesome by the way

    • Thank you so much for reading!! I really do appreciate it! I hope all goes well with your interview process!! 😃

  13. Thanks so much for this post! I jut got to 60 credits and I am starting the process to become a sub! I’m so excited!

    • Annie, I am glad to hear! Congrats on reaching the 60 credits! I hope the teaching process goes well for you🙂 Thanks for the read!

    • Hey, Annie, how’s it going? Are you enjoying the sub life? Thank you for reading!

  14. You didn’t mention how you handle the classroom who is ready to challenge and unload their arsenal on substitute teachers. It can also be very stressful.

    • Yes it can be! For me, I find that combating any unruly classrooms with humor, a smile and not showing yourself irritated often dissuades students from continuing any bad behavior. When they see that you are not rattled by their antics, they will typically quickly give up their attempts to frustrate you.

    • This is definitely true. My approach is to be myself. Naturally, I am very relaxed and easy-going; when the students sense that I do not view them as enemies, they tend to behave very well. Learning not to take things personally and showing insight are big keys as well.

  15. You are right about flexibility, so much that you may or may not work. Usually other teachers will barely say hi to you, thinking you are not good enough, not to mention the kids beyond 1st grade. Good choice if you don’t want be a teacher and you are young enough to make the career switch
    Terrible choice if you are trying to be a teacher and you are the ripe old age of 30
    Schools will exploit the shit out of you and make you their sub bitch. McDonalds might be a better option, cuz I ain’t going to be shackled by some profit minded school to put me into debt by me feeling inadequate giving me the impetus to further my education. Ever hear of university of Phoenix?

    • Thank you for your read. It’s a shame the way some are treated, for a fact. To be honest, I really didn’t recieve that kind of treatment; perhaps it was because they knew I was just working my way through college. But for a fact I know that other sub teachers have lamented being treated in such a degrading manner.

  16. I have been a sub for almost two years now and let me tell you its far from easy. But I can agree that the flexibility is attractive and no need to get to work always on time. I love that when I get to school I get to meet different people and its always exciting and fun experience. I also feel like Im not working. I feel like I can actually sit down and chill till the bell rings. All you have to do is make sure the kids don’t kill each other, but other than that its a very easy job. Your not expected to be an expert or to know it all. I think you just get there and do the best that you can. Everybody for the most part values Subs even though, lets be honest we really don’t get treated as part of the team… I love it and if anyone wants to get into it, they should definitely try it once and see where it takes you.. But so far, subbing has been pretty fun and I really value and love my job…

    • And that’s exactly how I feel! It didn’t feel like “work,” but more like volunteer work, helping out the community. And as you mentioned, each day is a new opportunity to meet new people, and that’s definitely a factor that keeps it interesting! Thanks for the read!

  17. I just received my sub license. It feels good to know I have something to fall back on!

    • It is definitely a nice playing card to have in your back pocket, especially when you’re in between jobs!! Hope it goes well! Thanks for the read🙂

      • Sub License ! Never have I heard of that here in Mississippi. What steps should i take to get my license? I would very much Love to obtain my sub license.

      • Personally, in Florida, there is no such thing as a sub license. All one needs is to be certified through a short orientation session.

  18. This article is very informative, sounds very positive and really makes me want to try. Hopefully everything works out good. I have been underemployed, and been looking for additional jobs and different challenge. I haven’ t done this before but I’m gathering reference letters to apply as a sub teacher at Kelly Services soon.

    How did you prepare for the interview or did you do any preparation for the actual interview or orientation? And I was wondering too about the salary/ hourly pay.

  19. How long after your interview with Kelly services did it take for you to actually start subbing? Was it right away? Also how much is the pay, hourly?

    • I started right away right after the first week. The online training only took about 4 hours for me. I’ve been substitute teaching for about a year now. The pay is based on your level of education or current degree. Those with an A.A. degree get paid the lowest compared to those who hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Substitute teachers are paid by number of units; one unit is equal to a full-day assignment and 0.5 unit is half-day assignment. There’s about $2.00 difference in pay for each degree. Subs don’t get paid very much, but it can be a good part-time job even though it’s temporary.

      • Yes, agreed! I subbed throughout my college years and until I found a full-time gig! It did its job for 3 years…pun intended!

  20. Carl, I just want to thank you for this post. I’ve been in social services for 7 years and am resigning from my current position soon. I love helping people, but honestly, I hit that burn-out point. I still want to make a difference and help people, but without a lot of the added pressure that comes from constantly taking on other people’s problems. Subbing seems like an excellent option for me for the moment. Your post really addressed some of the concerns I had about subbing. Blessings to you!

    • Wow, must have missed this comment, but thank you so much for the read! Have you undertaken subbing? How is it going?

  21. This is something I’m interested in, but in still intimidated. Sometimes I feel like I can’t control the class.

    • Nichole, thank you for the read. Like Michael Jordan once said—”You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Give yourself credit! Controlling a typical class usually does not take that much effort! It’s all about the way you comport yourself and command respect🙂

  22. Does this job help pay for schooling?

    • No, it doesn’t. Not enough benefits provided by the employment agency. It’s a part-time temp job; that’s why I’m currently looking for another job or even an internship (if I get lucky) this summer.

    • It all depends on your financial history. It definitely can contribute towards paying tuition; however, it might not be the BEST source of paying off an education. I was able to be blessed with scholarships so when I subbed, the money went to my own pocket.

  23. Can you have a contract full time job from Oct to Feb and then go as substitute teacher for the month of Sept and from Mar to May. Would it be acceptable by the school district. Thank you for the post and appreciate your response.

    • Thank you for the read! If you mean having a full time “sub job” with one class and then switching to having different classes in September and March to May then yes, this is more than acceptable. If you mean if you can stay as a sub without subbing for 5 months in a row, you would have to check with your subbing agency. Kelly Services requires that subs work at least one Friday every 45 days, so perhaps you can take a day off from your contract job every now and then to keep your subbing active?

      • They have changed it to one Monday and one Friday per month to stay active. I believe the subs can also deactivate their accounts if they won’t work for several months.

      • Ooooooh I’ve been out the game for a while. Thank you for the update, Marie.

  24. I love this. I am assuming it is difficult to form close relationships with the students, since you may only ever meet them once? And how do you suggest making an impact in such a short period?

    • Kayla, thank you for the read. It actually isn’t that difficult; there have been students that I only met once but because we hit it off so well, I was able to have upbuilding conversations with that student. For me personally, I went to the same schools over and over again, so that I knew many of the students rather well, knowing their likes, dislikes, situations, fears, and aspirations. That made work truly enjoyable; it felt like I was hanging out with little brothers and sisters. Even to this day, though I am not subbing any longer, I still see students and show concern for how they are doing and what they’re going through in life; some of them are 22/23 years old now! But though i am not their teacher, I never stop being their mentor.

      The way to do this is to be yourself. In looking at your blog topics I can tell you are a person who naturally cares for others. Use that gift. Smile. Be warm and friendly. Students will instantly gravitate to someone who is kind. Treat them with respect. And try to see things from their point of view. Doing these things ensures that you can make a positive impact on their lives🙂

  25. Hi! I loved this so much, thank you so much for all the informative info. I am absolutely exhausted with getting aditude by my boss whenever I need time off and Im in school and have just enough college credits to start subbing! The only thing I’m a little concerned abut is hair color and body art. I have a half sleve and pink/purple hair. The tattoo can be easily covered if necessary, but as far as hair, what are my options? Thank you in advance!

    • Victoria, thank you for the read. As far as dress and grooming, they definitely want subs to project a level of “professionalism,” however, what is now considered professional is much more open than 10 years ago. Tattoos and dyed hair are very common in the corporate world. When you set up your orientation/initiation to be a sub they will outline all that is allowed/prohibited in the county you will work for.

      • I have worked as a sub teacher for 2 yrs. I use it as a backup plan in between jobs. The jobs I encounter wants me to work nights and weekends. I may take a job during the summer but also have the option to quit in September. Source4Teachers is one program in NJ & through this company I have been contracted with a school for the whole year. I also may be able to collect unemployment next summer. Its great to have this option. I have felt this was a great accomplishment but sub teachers are often looked down on.

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