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How can you become a substitute teacher?

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Quick Answer

Substitute teaching in many states require teachers to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, while some states, such as Alaska, accept substitutes with a minimum high school level education. In lieu of a college degree, a state may require a certain amount of college credits. Professional experience may be a prerequisite for teaching school-age children in some school districts. Teaching certification is often a condition of employment.

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Many school districts require potential substitute teachers to take a teacher training course and successfully pass an exam to earn teacher certification. Each state has its own criteria for certification and registration, so consult state guidelines for qualification details. In some cases, potential substitutes are allowed in the classroom without certification, but the process takes longer and may require passing courses and taking an oral exam.

While potential teachers can qualify by taking courses in a variety of disciplines, or bring professional experience from a wide range of industries, key skill sets are important. The ability to communicate well with young people is necessary. Substitute teaching also requires one to have patience, be comfortable working under stressful conditions and be able to competently manage a classroom. Organizational skills are good for keeping lesson plans organized. Because many classrooms have computers and audio-visual equipment, minimal technical knowledge is a plus.

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