Frequently Asked Questions

This section of the website is to try and address common questions asked of NSTA on a variety of issues. Distilled here in are answers to questions that we have gleaned from our E-Mail and from telephone calls. Certainly we do not want to discourage you from writing but the answer to the question you have may just lie in these pages.

How do I become a substitute teacher?

The requirements vary from State-To-State. Please check the National Education Association’s State-By-State Summary for the minimum requirements. Please check with your state’s Department of Education to see what the full requirements are for substitute teacher. CLICK HERE for a listing of DOE.

If you’re not sure what any of the requirements mean or worried that you didn’t fill our your certification paperwork correctly, please post in theProspective Substitute Teachers forum of Substitute Teachers United and their members will be happy to answer any questions you may have!

How much do substitute teachers make? 

Rates of pay for substitute teacher vary widely. The higher the cost of living, the more a substitute teacher will make per day.

Currently, the pay rate for per diem (day-to-day) substitutes is $20 to $190 per full day with half days being half the rate of a full day. The national average for a substitute teacher is about $105 per full day. Long-Term substitutes may get increased pay the longer they work in one assignment.

Do substitute teachers ever get any benefits?

Yes and no. Some substitute teachers draw ZERO benefits. Other substitute teachers, in the very least, are able to draw teachers retirement if their state allows them to. There are some areas, like Fresno, CA that have a substitute teachers union. These unions have been able to attain a myrid of benefits for their substitute teachers. Benefits such as the accumulation of sick time, the right to consult legal counsel, and the opportunity to receive health, dental, and vision insurance. So as you can see, location plays an important part as to whether or not you will receive any benefits as a substitute teacher.

Can substitute teachers draw social security?

In states where substitute teachers aren’t allowed to draw teacher retirement, they may be eligible to draw social security. In states where substitute teachers draw teacher retirement, the teacher retirement tends to take the place of social security.

Substitute teachers who work for Charter schools, private schools, and Montessori schools will likely be able to draw social security.

Can substitute teachers draw unemployment during the summer months?

Substitute teachers may or may not qualify for unemployment. They need to check with their respective state’s Unemployment Office for a more definitive answer.

What is substitute teaching like? 

Subbing can be totally different experiences. In other words, Subbing can vary by district, just like regular, full-time classroom teaching.

Will I be a babysitter or will I actually be teaching children?

It depends on the classroom teacher. You’ll be teaching when they leave me lessons to teach and you’ll babysit when they give busy-work or movies. Every job is different from the last job. No two sub jobs are the same.

Is substitute teaching challenging? 

If you go in confident, and with the mind set that you will do fine… you will. If you feel insecure it will show too. In general, kids want to do good because they want you to leave a good report for their regular teacher.

There are always the kids who will test you. The best way to handle that is to be serious. If you promise something follow through. They will not take you seriously if they see you make empty threats.

Are there any down times to subbing? 

Yes. During the first few weeks of the school year, you probably won’t hear much just as you won’t hear much during the last week of school. Also, if you do high school, then mid-terms are lacking on the sub jobs.

Why don’t I get more phone calls to sub?

Some times of the year are slower than other times of the year. Work is really good following spring break and work is always good the years there’s a shortage of flu vaccine.

Remember, substitute teachers are always on call. Meaning: they’re an at-will employee. We rely on the regular teachers to be in meetings, at conferences and conventions, taking personal time off, being gone in the event of an emergency, and being ill. We have no control over when the actual full-time teachers will be gone and for what reason. All we can do is sit back and wait for assignments to come our way as they become available to us.

Being that one full year of a child’s K-12 education is taught by substitute teachers, I wouldn’t worry too much about the calls.

Why should I join an organization for substitute teachers?

Whether you join a local advocacy group like the Lee CountyAssociation of Professional Stubstitutes TeachersOregon Substitute Teachers Association or a national one like the NSTA, you’re helping to stand up for our profession and that’s what really matters the most. As you know, there’s strength in numbers. The more people in a group advocating benefits, better pay, and training—the better chances of getting it! Right? That’s why it’s important to join an organization that looks out for the overall welfare of substitute teachers as a whole.

Is the NSTA a union? 

Simply put: No. The NSTA is an advocacy organization that advocates benefits, better pay, and training; helps look out for the overall welfare of substitute teachers; and helps provide the necessary tools to start substitute teacher chapters, caucuses, and unions.

Does the NSTA offer any health, dental, or vision benefits to its members?

Recently, the NSTA has partnered with AFLAC to offer its members special rates on accident and dental insurance. We also offer a discount prescription plan through National Benefit Systems, Inc.

Currently, we don’t offer any benefits for vision care.