Most Educators Who Work as Substitutes
Most educators who work as substitutes do so in order to network at a district in which they would like to work. Others do so by choice, because they enjoy the flexibility and freedom as well as the variety.
If you'd like to work in education, substitute teaching offers an opportunity to see what it's like before being tied down to a contract, and will give you chances to meet and interact with many potential colleagues.
If you plan to make a career as a substitute teacher, plan ahead - not only on a daily basis, but also to protect yourself, because while you will have some wonderful experiences as a substitute teacher, there'll also be days when you wondered what the heck you were thinking.
If you didn't know before, know this now - the education profession is a legal minefield. The smallest misstep, misunderstanding or mistake could cost you your career. Therefore, it's necessary to take steps to protect yourself.
Substitutes are not usually part of the union, although they are welcome to join. However, since certificate substitute teaching pays half that of a contracted teacher's salary (without raises for experience and additional education), it doesn't make economic sense for most subs. Nonetheless, you should talk to the district union representative and find out what sort of legal protection may be available to you.
There is no subject requirement - substitute teaching can be done in any subject you choose. However, it is in your best interest to stick to those subjects in which you have competence. Most substitute teachers get in trouble when they attempt to cover a class in an area in which they have no knowledge or training. If you are trained as an elementary generalist, for example, attempting to teach Industrial Arts or Advanced High School Biology is probably not a good idea, unless you are very knowledgeable in those areas.
Most districts today use an automated phone system, and have a substitute website as well. Substitute teaching can be stressful, but you can reduce that stress by selecting and scheduling jobs ahead of time. Be careful though - if you work for more than one district and are not conscientious about keeping a written planner, it's easy to double-book yourself.
If you decide that you'd like to make substitute teaching a career, keep in mind that you are not under a contract. You are not guaranteed a certain number of days per year, and signing on as a substitute with any district may prevent you from receiving any unemployment benefits to which you may be entitled. Also remember that as a substitute teacher you will not receive any sort of health or dental coverage.
In case you were wondering what the pay for substitute teaching jobs was, depending on the district and the part of the country, certificate substitute teachers are paid between $90 and $120 per day.