How Much Do Substitute Teachers Make in USA 2024

How Much Do Substitute Teachers Make in The USA

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a decline in the number of substitute teachers available to serve the number of schools that exist. However, in the post-pandemic era, we see the influx of more people into the field. These people join the field for various reasons, some of which are:

  • For testing the field before choosing a career as a teacher,
  • To remain active after retirement,
  • To serve as a side hustle, 
  • For the love of imparting knowledge to others.

Whatever your reason for becoming or seeking to become a substitute teacher, you can venture into the field. The most important thing is to ensure you are knowledgeable in the field you want to teach as a substitute. This is to avoid knowledge gaps in the learning journey of the students. 

What is Substitute Teaching?

Before we can explain what substitute teaching is about, we need to understand who a substitute teacher is. A substitute teacher is an individual who fills in for the regular teacher when absent for medical or other kinds of leave. The substitute teacher carries on with the same learning outline as the regular teacher, thereby bridging any knowledge gap the students would have gotten in the absence of their regular teacher.

Substitute teaching, therefore, is the act of the substitute teacher filling in for the regular teacher in their absence. 

How Much Do Substitute Teachers Make By States in the USA?

The United States of America consists of about 50 states, a Federal District (Washington D.C, the capital city of the USA), 5 Major territories, and minor islands. Each state exercises all powers of government and has its constitution and government. This authority is reflected in their education system.

In this article, we will look at how much a substitute teacher makes in about 10 states of the United States of America while touching briefly on the requirements for obtaining a substitute teacher license or permit.


In California, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) handles the certification of substitute teachers. The CTC issues different permits to individuals who want to be substitute teachers. The requirements for each permit differ from the other and serve different purposes. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Substitute teacher is $40,308, and this is approximately $19.38 an hour.


Alabama is a state with growing interest in the field of substitute teaching. The state does not require a Bachelor’s degree as one of the requirements for being issued a substitute teaching license. However, you must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Other requirements include:

  • Background Check: this is done through the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is to check if you have a criminal record.
  • Fingerprint Verification: this is to be done by the ABI and FBI at the point of carrying out the background check. 
  • Tuberculosis test: this is to ensure the safety of the students.
  • Application fee 

The average salary of a substitute teacher in Alabama is $41,213 annually.


Before you can work as a substitute teacher in Illinois, you need to be licensed by the State of Illinois. Licensing and registration are done by different organizations and with different charges at each point. The total charge for processing a substitute teacher license and registering it to the point of being used is $230.50. While the process of obtaining it is long and money-consuming, it has a validity of 5 years. If the holder passes the Illinois basic skill test, there will not be a need to keep renewing the license.

The average salary of a substitute teacher in Illinois is $42,523 a year.


The issuing of a substitute teacher license is not done by the governing body for education in Alaska. Each public school district issues the license, hence, different requirements. However, each public school district requires the substitute teacher to possess a Bachelor’s degree. In addition, some districts require the substitute teacher to undergo further training. Another requirement is a background check done to ascertain the criminal history of the substitute teacher and it is done with fingerprint verification.

The average salary of a substitute teacher in Alaska is $49,368 a year.

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Ohio categorized its substitute teaching licenses into short and long-term licenses. A short-term license authorizes you to teach for no more than 5 days in the same classroom while the long-term license authorizes you to teach 5 days or more in the same classroom. The license is valid for 5 years and is renewable. To obtain the license, you need the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • No experience 
  • Background check to determine your criminal history 
  • Complete application form 
  • Application fee 
  • Official college transcripts 

The average salary range of a substitute teacher is $37,745 per year.


The Substitute K-12 Certificate authorizes the holder to teach no more than 120 days in the same school in each school year. It is valid for 6 years and can be renewed when the holder replies. The requirements for applying for the certificate are:

  • Bachelor’s degree or official transcript 
  • Complete filled application form 
  • Application and fingerprint processing fees 
  • Live Fingerprint card to be used for background check 
  • Other requirements as stipulated by your school district 

The average salary of a Substitute Teacher in Arizona is $45.178 per year.

New York 

New York does not mandate substitute teachers to obtain a substitute teaching certificate because they do not issue it. You can be a substitute teacher with your high school diploma, however, there are limitations to how long you can teach as a substitute in New York. Without a teaching certificate, you can only work as a substitute for no more than 40 days. With a teaching certificate, you can teach as long as you want. Those who are undergoing their studies but still want to teach as substitutes can still teach as long as they want. The school districts in the state determine what the requirement they ask for will be.

The average salary of a Substitute Teacher in New York is $41,831 per year.


The state of Louisiana does not issue a substitute teacher certificate. Hiring of substitute teachers is done by the districts. This means that each district has their specific requirements in addition to the general requirements. Part of the general requirements are 

  • Minimum of high school diploma 
  • Background check through fingerprinting.
  • Tuberculosis test 

Some districts might require the substitute teacher to undergo a designated training in class management, or any other topic. 

Average salary of a substitute teacher in Louisiana is $40,322 per year.


To substitute teach in Iowa, you need to obtain either a substitute authorization or substitute license. They give the holder the right to teach K-12 classes and each has requirements different from the other for its application. Some of the requirements are 

  • Bachelor’s degree or high school diploma
  • Background check done with fingerprint to determine if you have a criminal background

Whichever one you possess, the validity is 5 years and can be renewed. In addition to the differing requirements, state and federal background checks are also required.

Average salary of a substitute teacher is $45,671.


Massachusetts does not issue a permit or license to individuals who want to be substitute teachers; neither do you need one to substitute teach. However, there are minimum requirements which you must meet to substitute teach. Some districts can add to the requirements, for example, a particular type of training. The minimum requirements are:

  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • Criminal background check: this is done with running a background check with your fingerprints. The aim is to check your background if you have any criminal record.
  • Experience: this differs according to your level of education and area of specialization.

The average salary of a substitute teacher in Massachusetts is $48,666.

Average Salary of Retired Teachers Working as Substitute Teachers 

Part of the workforce that makes up the pool of substitute workers is retired teachers. The Law Insider defines a retired teacher as a person who has ceased to be in pensionable employment and has attained state pensionable age. In other words, a retired teacher is an individual who is no longer in active employment where pension is paid. However, they are now being paid pensions.

The average salary for a retired teacher is $54,162 per year.

Substitute Teacher vs Regular Teacher 

A substitute teacher and a regular teacher exist side by side to ensure that students get the best education possible. The regular teacher is in charge of the classroom while the substitute teacher assists the regular teacher to take charge of the classroom when the regular teacher is absent. 

Irrespective of their collaboration, there exists some differences between them. They are listed in the table below.

Substitute TeacherRegular Teacher
A substitute teacher takes over the class in the absence of a regular teacher.A regular teacher is an individual who is in charge of a classroom.
Little to no benefitsEnjoys other benefits aside salary
Hardly respected by students.They make the rules students abide by and thereby have the respect of the students.
Works on a need basis.Handles the class full time.
Has the flexibility of time.Has little or no time flexibility.
Teaches with the teacher’s notes/outline.Makes the outlines for class learning.
Maintains decorum in the class.Creates and maintains decorum.
Marks and grades the assignments given by the regular teacher.Gives assignments, exams, marks and grades students.
Makes notes about student behaviors for the regular teacherTakes note of student behaviors and contacts students’ parents when need be.
Substitute Teachers vs Regular Teachers
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Tax Considerations for Substitute Teachers 

Substitute teachers are hired in 3 different ways, namely:

  • As independent contractors 
  • As employees 
  • By staffing agencies 

Each way has tax implications for both the substitute teacher and the school or district. Let’s look at each of them.

As Independent Contractors 

When a substitute teacher is hired as an independent contractor, the individual can work for more than one district. This means the substitute teacher can have a variety of job opportunities to access and can take up whenever they want. However, this brings the tax burden on the substitute teacher. 

As an independent contractor, you are seen as a business of one, hence, you are to report your income and pay your taxes directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This can impact you as the substitute teacher as there are certain benefits that regular teachers or substitute teachers employed as employees enjoy which are not at your disposal. Some of which are training, providing school supplies, etc. Part of the ways to help mitigate the effect on this group of substitutes is tax deductions.

As Employees 

Some substitute teachers are employed by the school district. The school district has the responsibility of paying the taxes on the incomes of these substitute teachers. This, therefore means the district has to keep track of the places where the substitute teachers work, their pay and do all the calculations. 

By Staffing Agencies 

Staffing agencies are organizations that are in charge of hiring substitutes. They employ them as employees under their agencies. They offer them the training and every other benefit that employees of school districts get. This is done at a commission from the pay substitute teachers get. Therefore, they handle all the taxes for the substitute teachers.

Irrespective of the means by which you were employed, a substitute teacher pays taxes. They can use tax deductions to reduce the amount of taxes they pay. 

Skills Needed by Substitute Teachers 

To excel as a substitute teacher, there are certain skills you need. This will help you have a better control of the classroom and your career as a substitute teacher. They are:


This skill is what makes the substitute teacher keep track of whatever was done in the classroom. This is a skill you have both before you start and develop after you start.


Being a substitute teacher means teaching in different schools within the district or even outside of it. One way to excel at it is to be highly adaptable. Adaptability helps you manage your schedule better and fit in in the schools in which you have to teach. Also, some substitute teachers teach different grades at different times. This skill helps you to adapt to the different roles and images you have to portray in each grade.


This is one skill that every individual should have. People have high regard for individuals who can proffer solutions in society. This is no different for students. Being able to solve problems earns you a greater respect from students and even other teachers. 

Time Management 

This is another skill individuals need to cultivate. A substitute teacher needs this skill to effectively manage the time constraints that their job role confers. Lack of this skill can bring disaster to the class and life of the substitute teacher.


Connections are built through networking. Substitute teaching is a temporary position and one of the best ways to keep having the opportunity to get these work opportunities is to network. Having a good line of communication with teachers in schools you teach will determine if you will be called back or not. It also determines if you can get referrals too.


Substitute teaching is a great field and the choice of pursuing it as a long term career exists. Though it has its ups and downs, you can make a living through it. 

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