Whether you are just starting out with a degree in education or are at the end of your career, you may be considering substitute teaching as a source of primary or supplemental income. You will want to consider the pros and cons of this type of work to make an informed decision.
Pro: Job Flexibility
As a substitute teacher, you can select your own work schedule. As an on-call substitute, you can pick and choose which assignments you accept. This is handy if substitute teaching is supplemental to another job or needs to be fit around other commitments. Some districts will allow you to substitute while completing your degree, and this will give you practical work experience.
Con: No Guarantee of Regular Work
Substitute teaching depends on the regular teachers needing you to fill in for them. There is no guarantee that you will get a call on any given day. To increase the likelihood of consistent work, you may need to travel further than you desire for jobs. Consider applying to substitute in more than one district.
Pro: Good Pay for a Day's Work
When you are a substitute, you are paid for the hours you put in. As an on-call substitute, you will not have all of the preparation and outside paperwork of a full-time teacher. If you accept a long-term substitute position, such as filling in for someone on maternity leave, you will have the outside work and long-term commitments.
Con: Benefits Not Guaranteed
Depending on your location, you might not get any job benefits as a substitute teacher. Requirements vary by state and sometimes by district. You may or may not be able to draw unemployment during summer months. Some states allow you to draw teacher's retirement or social security. You will want to research the benefits offered to substitutes by your district.
Pro: Get Your Foot in the Door
Teaching jobs are hard to get in some areas, but starting in a school district as a substitute gives you the opportunity to be noticed by the principal. If you are known as a reliable substitute who has good results in the classroom, you may be able to obtain a full-time position. In the meantime, substitute teaching allows you to teach a variety of students of varying ages to learn which group best suits your teaching style and personality.
Con: Discipline Issues
You will be facing a classroom of children without knowledge of their routines and problems. Students often do not respect a substitute teacher and test their ability to control the class. You are likely to have different methods than the regular teacher and the kids will likely compare you to the regular teacher.