Job Descriptions

Substitute Teacher – Job Description

As the name implies, a substitute teacher is an educator who fills in for an indisposed or unavailable teacher. Substitute teachers act as replacements or stopgaps to occupy the lacuna brought about by the inability of the regular teacher to discharge his/her responsibilities. Depending on which teachers are being substituted, the relief teacher’s job descriptions are varying and multifaceted in nature. The major difference between a regular teacher and a substitute teacher is that while the former is employed on a more permanent basis, the latter only acts in temporary capacities. For this reason, it is quite obvious that a substitute teacher must have similar educational qualifications and skillsets required of a substantial teacher. A substitute teacher is required to carry on with the educational process when the regular teacher is unavailable. They act as bridges in the absence of the lead teacher in order not to truncate or jeopardize the learning process of the students.


Substitute Teacher Job Duties

  • Performs all duties expected of a regular teacher in the latter’s absence. These duties include instruction of the students and evaluation of their performances.
  • Incentivizes the students’ willingness to learn and participate in an array of both academic and extracurricular activities for improved development.
  • Gets acquainted with the students and other staff members in order to establish and sustain an effective working relationship.
  • Liaises with the students’ guardians and/or parents when necessary in order to update them about issues relating to the overall progress of the students.
  • Determines the best approach to pick up the mantle from where the regular teacher stopped with as minimal disruption to the teaching-learning process as possible.
  • Adheres to the established syllabuses and curricula in order to promote plain sailing teaching-learning process for the students.
  • Prepares to teach a wide range of student grades because a vacancy to be filled can manifest at any level of education.
  • Apprises the regular teacher upon his/her resumption to duty about the progress made. The return of the main teacher marks the termination of the substitute teacher’s employment.


Alternative Names

  • Acting teacher
  • Relief teacher
  • Provisional teacher
  • Replacement teacher


Job Projections

6% growth rate is the prediction by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) for the general category of teaching assistants. The specific job outlook statistics for substitute teachers is unavailable. However, it is safe to estimate that the job outlook for substitute teachers is average based on intrinsic circumstances.


Substitute Teacher Skills and Qualifications

  • Good organizational skills are important qualities of a substitute teacher. He/she must be able to seamlessly fit and fill in the void created by the absence of the regular teacher. This should be done with the least possible interruption.
  • Essential communication and information dissemination skills are required by teachers in general. By this token, a substitute teacher must have the ability to transmit and/or convey knowledge and directives coherently.
  • Astute time management skills are important conventional qualities for most professionals. Likewise, a substitute teacher must be able manage time prudently for maximum gain.
  • Creativity and resourcefulness are skills that are required in order to be an outstanding substitute teacher.
  • Flexibility is a very important quality a substitute teacher should possess. The ability to easily adapt is necessary for substitute teachers because the vacancies can become available spontaneously.
  • Compelling interpersonal skills are undeniable qualities required of substitute teachers. They must be able to interact with affiliated stakeholders for maximum gain.
  • It is very important that a substitute teacher possesses a wide range of knowledge and educational proficiencies in order to be able to maintain versatility in filling vacancies accordingly.
  • Thorough patience is needed in order to be able to execute a smooth transition into the vacancy created by the absence of the regular teacher. This helps to promote an enabling environment for teaching-learning processes.


Salary Details

The median annual wage for substitute teachers is $30,900. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016).


Education and Training

The educational qualifications required to be a substitute teacher depends on various circumstances such as state and school requirements, grade level of students to be taught, as well as the subject the vacant regular teacher previously instructed. By and large, the maximum requirements include the possession of a high school diploma, associate’s degree and/or bachelor’s degree. Further educational qualifications are always advantageous. Likewise, membership of relevant professional organizations is a positive inclination.

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