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How to become a substitute teacher in California


What if we told you that there is a job out there that will let you:

  • Take control of your work schedule.
  • Earn as much as $500 per day.
  • Give back to your community.
  • Find your passion. 

If all of the above sounds great to you, then it’s time to consider substitute teaching. 

If you live in California or are thinking about moving there, substitute teaching is a great way to give back to your community, balance work and your personal time, and supplement your income.

You don’t need to have previous job experience or a degree in education to get started as a substitute teacher. The substitute teacher experience has evolved to make it easier to become a sub and give you more control over your subbing career

If you’re nodding your head and feel ready to learn more, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to learn why you should consider becoming a substitute teacher and how Swing makes it easy from end to end.

Substitute teacher helping schoolgirl at school

Chapter 1

Why should you consider becoming a substitute teacher?

There is no one right reason to become a substitute teacher. Whether you are looking to pursue a career in education or in search of flexible, part-time work, substitute teaching should be on your radar.

Substitute teaching is a rewarding career path that values each educator's experience, personality, and background, all while allowing you to make a difference in the lives of the students in your community.

On top of all of that, becoming a substitute teacher has never been easier or more in-demand than it is today.

When you become a substitute, you will be in charge of your earnings by choosing how often you work, have control over where and when you sub, and have access to resources to make your experience impactful and rewarding.



The complete guide to becoming a substitute teacher in California

If you live in California — or are relocating there — and are looking for an opportunity to enjoy flexible, meaningful work in your community, perhaps you should apply to be a substitute teacher.

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How my passion for education got me into substitute teaching

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Substitute Smiling teacher with students using digital tablets

Chapter 2

What are the benefits of becoming a substitute teacher?

Whether you want to work with students a few times a month, on a long-term basis, or anything in between, you’ll benefit from substitute teaching.

Here are just a few of the ways being a substitute teacher has a positive impact on your life:

For example, you will discover that you are:

  • You give back to your community and make a difference in students' lives.
  • You’re helping solve a nation-wide teacher staffing shortage.
  • You’re giving yourself the flexibility to support yourself while pursuing other personal or professional goals.
  • The average substitute salary in California is about $152/day, but can be as high as $200+/day in other districts.
  • You are gaining transferable skills that will help you in future substitute teaching jobs but also in professional endeavors beyond the classroom.
  • You are learning about yourself and your interests as you teach in a variety of grade levels and subject areas.

Substitute teaching is a flexible and rewarding career. Whether you are looking for full-time or part-time work and have career goals beyond the classroom, substitute teaching can be a rewarding milestone in your professional journey.


How I found freedom in substitute teaching

How I found freedom in substitute teaching

Although Logan Rose loved her career as a writer, she wasn’t fulfilled by her day to day. So, she sought out new opportunities that would allow her to have an impact and give back to her community.

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Chapter 3

What requirements do you need to meet to become a substitute teacher in California?

Becoming a substitute teacher in California is quite straightforward and simple. It requires a small amount of paperwork to ensure you are fit and capable to run a classroom.

In order to get started, here are the steps you need to complete before getting hired as a substitute teacher in California:

Beyond these formal requirements, your background, age, experience and personality can also be assets. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, share your love of learning and bring your unique approach and stories to the classroom.

How Do I Become a Substitute Teacher In California — The Complete Guide

Swing makes it easy for substitute teacher candidates to move efficiently through the application process and access multiple schools. In fact, it takes just a couple of minutes to complete our background questionnaire, and one of our team members will then guide you through the next steps.


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Why it’s better to sub with Swing

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Group of substitute teacher's waiting in line for job interview

Chapter 4

How can you get hired as a substitute teacher candidate?

If you meet the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher and you are ready to apply for jobs, here are a few things to keep in mind so you stand out as a strong candidate.

Show your individuality

Teaching is about more than following a lesson plan.

Success in the classroom is about bringing together your personality, your background experience, and an endless well of patience to bring concepts to life for your students.

Feel empowered to approach the role in your own way. Expressing yourself in the classroom and being a successful substitute teacher are not mutually exclusive.

Research ahead of time

Do you want to teach at a charter school or a large metropolitan school district? What about high schoolers or elementary school students? These are all good things to know before applying for substitute teaching jobs.

Do your research and determine what school setting aligns best with your interests or skills. It’s also worth researching individual schools in your community: knowing about their administrators, recent successes, and initiatives can help you start off on the right foot.

Once you receive your first sub assignment, here’s what you can expect on your first day as a substitute teacher. It’s likely that you will get lesson plans from the teacher who is out, but if you need a backup plan, here are some activities to keep students on task and engaged.

Honor the diverse students in your classroom

Students come from a range of educational, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

Just like you have your own background and experiences that you bring to the classroom, it’s important to recognize and honor that your students bring their own unique identities to the classroom as well.

Be prepared from the start

Before you start substitute teaching, it helps to know what you might encounter on the other side of the classroom door.

Brush up on your classroom management skills and get a sense of what a typical day looks like for substitute teachers.

If you want even more information, you can request to speak with current substitute or full-time teachers or even join an online community for substitute teachers.

Draw from past experience

During the interview and training process, you may be asked to use examples from your previous work experiences to demonstrate your success as a substitute teacher. When you answer:

  • Briefly describe the project or situation
  • Be specific about your role and contributions
  • Site concrete examples and outcomes


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Swing Education substitute teacher with students

Chapter 5

How does Swing Education make applying to become a substitute teacher easier?

Whether you’re getting ready for that exciting first day or you’re a seasoned sub looking for more control over your subbing experience, Swing Education makes onboarding and applying easier throughout the whole process.

Instead of looking for jobs at individual schools or districts, filling out duplicate copies of applications and juggling different schools schedules and assignments, Swing brings it all together on one intuitive platform.

Streamline applications with Swing

When you’re ready to substitute teach with Swing, here’s how to get started: complete the onboarding questionnaire, which will make its way to a Swing onboarding advisor. They will then guide you through the requirements and application process.

During the onboarding process, our advisors will ensure you have all the information needed to select the teaching roles you want in as little as two weeks, including public, private, and charter schools.

Get the sub jobs you want

Say goodbye to waiting until the night before to find out where and what you’ll be teaching. With Swing, we give you the tools you need to have more control over your subbing experience, all in one platform.

Once you’re on board, we:

  • Take your preferences and skills into account to align you to the best-fit positions.
  • Let you sort openings based on criteria such as:
    • Location
    • Commute time
    • Grade level
    • School location
    • School subject
  • Allow you to create saved searches and a “School Favorites” list.
  • Provide access to training, resources and more throughout the year.

In other words, you can choose your assignments easier and faster, without all the paperwork, last-minute surprises or juggling of temp agencies or job boards.

Ready to become a Swing sub?

We’re excited to get to know you and learn more about who you are and where you would like to teach.



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