Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
Why Might You Want to Become a Substitute Teacher?
Substitute teaching may be an excellent career move for many people. Whether you are simply looking for a flexible part-time job or are seeking teaching experience at the beginning of your full-time teaching career, substitute teaching is a rewarding job with many benefits.
You Will Make a Difference in Your Community
Substitute teachers are very important to school districts. As a substitute teacher, you make sure that students continue to learn, even when their regular teacher is out sick or attending training. Even if you only see those students for one day or one week, you are making a difference in their lives by keeping their lessons running on track when their regular teacher can’t be there. Substitute teachers allow the regular classroom teachers to attend to personal matters such as illness and family emergencies, as well as go to meetings and training days, knowing that their class is left in good hands.
You Will Have a Flexible Schedule
As a substitute teacher, you get to set your own schedule within the regular school year. You can set “non-work days” ahead of time and decide which assignments you wish to accept on a case-by-case basis. If your personal schedule changes from week to week, it is possible to accommodate your work schedule to fit around your other obligations. If you have children who are in school, it will be easy to schedule your work days to match their school schedule.
You Gain Valuable Teaching Experience
Substitute teaching is an excellent opportunity for aspiring classroom teachers. You will have a unique opportunity to practice teaching in a variety of different grade levels and subjects and learn how more experienced teachers run their classrooms. If you are studying to become a teacher or are a recent graduate who is still looking for a full-time teaching opportunity, substitute teaching can be an excellent way to gain more experience and to get your foot in the door at schools you are interested in working for. You will get to know teachers and administration at the buildings you sub in, potentially giving you a leg up when the schools are hiring for full-time teachers.
Every Work Day is a New Adventure
Each new substitute teaching assignment is a new adventure. You will find yourself teaching in a variety of different situations in different school environments, which can make your work day more interesting. No two assignments are the same, so each day will bring new experiences and new challenges. You will have the opportunity to teach as a variety of different grade levels and subjects as a substitute teacher. One day you may be teaching preschool, and the next you might have to cover high school phys. ed. You will likely learn something new every work day!
You Will Learn A Variety of Transferable Job Skills
If you are planning on going into teaching as a full-time career, substitute teaching gives you real-world experience in a variety of different types of classrooms. Even if you do not plan on becoming a regular classroom teacher, you will gain skills that are valuable in many other career fields including public speaking and problem-solving skills. You will also gain a lot of experience in working with children of different ages.
You May Be Eligible for Benefits, Even if You Only Work Part Time
Depending on your state and the districts you work for, you may be eligible for certain benefits as a substitute teacher, even though you will only be employed part-time. For example, as a substitute teacher in Ohio, I get retirement benefits through the State Teachers’ Retirement System of Ohio. There aren’t many part-time jobs that offer these types of benefits.
The Hiring Process is Relatively Quick and Easy
While I did wait to leave my previous job until after I started subbing, substitute teaching is an excellent option for those who are between jobs, as the hiring process is fairly quick and easy. Substitute teachers are in high demand at most school districts. If you meet the requirements, you are very likely to be hired as a substitute teacher. In Ohio, for example, substitute teachers only need a bachelor’s degree, to pass a background check, and to complete minimum training after being hired. If you need a to find a job quickly while looking for a new full-time job, substitute teaching might be an option to consider due to the quick hiring process and flexible hours that can be scheduled to accommodate interviews.
Subbing Can Help You Decide if You Want to Continue Your Education
By trying out different types of teaching assignments, you can get a feel for what subjects and grade levels you are most interested in teaching. This can help you to decide if teaching full-time is a career option that you would like to pursue, and what specific subject area you would be interested in teaching.
Substitute Teaching Gives You Freedom
Substitute teaching gives you freedom that you typically don’t have with a regular 9-5 job. Because you have a flexible schedule that you choose and have breaks off, substitute teaching gives you time to work on your own side projects or side business while also providing a stable main income. If you sub part time, you will still have plenty of time to pursue other career goals, such as writing or starting your own business while you aren’t teaching. Because you set your own schedule, you can work more substitute teaching jobs during months when your other business ventures are slow and take more time off from teaching when you are busier with your other projects.
Substitute Teaching is a Fun Job
Compared to regular 9-5 office jobs, you will likely have much more fun substitute teaching. Even during difficult days, you will likely find something entertaining during your work day teaching in a school. Each day is a new adventure and children say and do the most hilarious things. You are sure to have plenty of entertaining stories to share with your family after each work day.
Substitute Teaching is a Rewarding Opportunity
Substitute teaching is a rewarding and flexible career choice that can be used as a stepping stone to help you reach your long-term career goals. Substitute teaching is an excellent opportunity for people who are considering pursuing a career in education but are not completely sure what they would be interested in teaching. It is also a great opportunity for people who are looking for flexible, fun, and meaningful employment.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Linda A on October 12, 2019:
I can give you a couple of reasons why you might not want to be a sub. I have been substitute teaching or a while and the school district takes advantage of the fact that you aren't in a union. I have been scheduled to work a full day with no breaks. I have been made to take my lunch to a room to cover for a teacher instead of being allowed to eat uninterrupted. If a teacher you are subbing for as extra duty before or after school, that they get paid for, you have to do it. And they still get the money you don't. I had to work half an hour off the clock last Friday for a teacher because a bus was late, and she still got the pay.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 14, 2018:
This is a good way to work at a job that is flexible, yet rewarding. I have a friend that just worked 3 months straight for a teacher out for a maternity leave, but often she just works a few days here and there.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 13, 2018:
It sounds like an interesting career path. My sister-in-law is a teacher and really enjoys her job.