Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
I started working as a substitute teacher about two months ago. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing, I was still having trouble finding a new job related to my field, and I didn’t want to stay at my previous job. I saw an ad for substitute teaching and thought that it sounded like something I would enjoy doing more than the printing/graphic editing job I was currently working at.
While teaching wasn’t my career goal when I was working on my degree, this job allows me to gain extra career skills that may benefit me in the future, and also provides greater flexibility to continue my job search, as well as to work on my own freelance writing business. It also gives me a sense of giving back to the community that I couldn’t get from my regular corporate job.
Education Requirements for Substitute Teaching in Ohio
Every state differs in its educational requirements for substitute teachers. Some states only allow fully licensed teachers to become substitutes, while others only require a high school diploma. Ohio requires all substitute teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, though it doesn’t matter what subject you majored in.
You do not need a teaching certification, though you do need a substitute teaching license to begin subbing. The substitute teaching license costs $25 for one year or $125 for five years. To get this license, you must be hired by a district or an organization that handles substitute teacher staffing for multiple districts (which we will discuss in the next section). You also must pass a background check and have a copy of your college transcripts. You can obtain this license online through the Ohio Board of Education’s website upon being hired as a substitute teacher.
There was a short online course and a one-day in-person class that I had to complete after being hired as a substitute teacher. I’m not sure if this is a state requirement or just a requirement for the organization that I was hired through. I will discuss these more in the next section.
How to Get Hired as A Substitute Teacher
Depending on the district that you want to work for as a substitute teacher, you will either need to contact the school district directly and set up an interview with them or apply to an organization that handles substitute teacher staffing for multiple school districts. I currently work through an organization called North Coast Shared Services Alliance. After seeing an ad that the organization placed on a job board site, I applied to become a substitute teacher directly on their website.
A few days after I submitted my application, I was contacted for an interview. The interview was straightforward. I was simply asked why I wanted to become a substitute teacher, any previous experience I had teaching children, and how many days a week I was able to work. The interviewer then contacted my references and I received an email shortly after with instructions on applying for my short-term substitute teaching license. I think that almost everyone who applies and has the proper qualifications and good references get hired.
After completing a background check and applying for my substitute teacher license, I had to enroll in an orientation session. This was a simple informational session about finishing up any paperwork that new subs needed to start working, how to use the online scheduling system for accepting sub jobs, etc. A few days after this orientation session, I received an email that I had been added to the online scheduling system, called Absence Management (formerly Aesop) by Frontline Education. This is just an online website where you can accept subbing jobs at the districts you have selected to work with.
After activating my account with Absence Management/Aesop, I had to complete an online course within 30 days and take a one-day in-person “Safe and Engaged Substitute Teacher Training” class within 45 days. You can begin working as a substitute right away, but these courses must be completed within the time-frame to continue working. These courses were simple enough to complete. The online class was a series of presentations on topics including how to deal with slips and falls and identifying child abuse and mental health concerns in students. Each of these courses had a short test at the end. The Safe and Engaged class was a one-day workshop teaching new substitute teachers who haven’t worked as teachers before basic safety protocols and how to be an effective teacher in a new classroom.
Finding Daily Substitute Teaching Jobs
There are two ways to accept daily substitute teaching jobs once you are hired. The first is the online scheduling system Absence Management/Aesop. This is a website that displays available jobs that you can either accept or decline. This system is a good way to accept jobs for several days to a week or more ahead of time. You can also set days that you know you won’t be able to or don’t want to work so that you won’t get phone calls about jobs on those days.
You also get phone calls from an automated system or a live person in the morning if you haven’t already accepted a job for those days. They call around six in the morning, so it is a good idea to make sure you are awake and ready to take a call on days you want to work but haven’t already accepted a job from the online system.
It really is that easy to become a substitute teacher in Ohio. As long as you have a bachelor’s degree and are a law-abiding citizen who is somewhat good with children, you will likely be hired. In the future, I will write additional articles detailing the pros and cons of working as a substitute teacher, tips for new substitute teachers, and my experiences with working as a sub.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is a substitute's salary?
Answer: Substitutes are paid a “per diem” (daily) rate, set by each individual district. The daily rate can vary considerably by district. The districts I sub at pay between $80 and $110 per day.
Question: On one website I read the short term license "allows an individual to teach in a classroom for at most 60 school days during the school year." Is this 60 days overall, or 60 days in one particular classroom?
Answer: It is 60 days in a particular classroom. I have worked way more than 60 days overall so far during the current school year.
Question: If you wanted to work all 5 days of the week as a substitute teacher, how likely would you be to get an assignment for each day?
Answer: It depends on how many school districts you are signed up to work for. You will likely only be allowed to work up to 30 hours a week as a sub, so you probably won't be able to work 5 full days each week, however.
Question: How much does working as a substitute teacher in Ohio pay?
Answer: Each school district sets its own daily rate for substitute teachers. The districts I work for in Northeast Ohio pay anywhere from $80-$110 per day.
Question: What do you do during the summer?
Answer: Personally, I spend more time writing and tutoring ESL students during the summer (I do these during the school year in addition to subbing as well). Some substitute teachers may take other seasonal jobs during the summer (such as working at with children at summer camps), or just taking the summer off if they can afford to.
Question: Is there a need for certain subject teachers in Ohio? I'm thinking about getting a TEFL certificate.
Answer: Having a background in a specific subject can definitely help, though you should be willing to take on assignments teaching for a variety of different subjects and grade levels if you want to be able to work regularly. If your degree is in a specific teachable subject, such as English or science, it is a plus.
Having a certificate in TEFL would be helpful if you are planning on teaching English as a Second Language. I teach ESL in addition to substitute teaching, so I try to get as many ESL/TESOL subbing assignments as possible since I know the subject matter, but these assignments don't come up as often as other types of classes.
Any teaching, educational, or professional experience you have can help you in adapting to new classrooms each day as a substitute teacher.
Question: Would I need extra paperwork if I'm British moving from the UK to Ohio for two years?
Answer: If you have completed your coursework outside of the United States, the Ohio Department of Education requires a course-by-course analysis from an approved international credential evaluation service before granting your substitute teaching license.
Please visit the Ohio Department of Education's website for the full requirements and details on the steps you need to take to become a substitute teacher in the state: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Teaching/Licensur...
Question: I was told if a long-term substitute teacher is employed for more than 21 days, that the daily rate changes to that paid to the regular teacher. Is this correct?
Answer: The pay rate depends on the district you are subbing for. Some districts may pay long-term subs and subs or subs that work in the district for a certain number of days a higher rate. You will have to ask the district that you are planning on working for about their specific pay rates.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Aly on January 27, 2020:
Are you familiar with agencies that provide teaching jobs out of the country, either ELS or college level?
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on February 09, 2019:
No, medical insurance is not offered to substitute teachers in Ohio. You will have to get insurance on your own or from your spouse’s employer.
Tiny on February 09, 2019:
As a substitute teacher is medical insurance offered?