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How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Alabama

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Requirements for becoming a substitute teacher in Alabama vary greatly by school district. However, the Alabama State Department of Education establishes certain criteria that all candidates statewide must meet in order to work as a substitute teacher. These criteria include a background check, certain education requirements, certification and fees. As with most substitute teaching positions throughout the country, substitute teachers' pay in Alabama is dependent on education level, certification and length of teaching assignment.

Basic Requirements

Substitute teachers in Alabama must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Many Alabama school districts require education credentials above and beyond those at the state level. For example, Montgomery Public Schools requires substitute teachers to have at least two years of college. Mobile County Public Schools requires only a high school diploma or GED, but all substitute teacher applicants in the district must take and pass a writing exam before being hired, according to the MCPS website. Statewide, the ALSDE also mandates that all substitute teachers pass a tuberculosis test.

Alabama Fingerprint Clearance Card

According to the Alabama Child Protection Act, all substitute teachers in Alabama are required to be fingerprinted for a criminal history background check. This check must go through both the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Conviction of any felonies or misdemeanors, especially those involving sexual misconduct or physical harm to a child, may be grounds for disqualification. The Alabama Applicant Processing Service is conducted by 3M Cogent, which requires that applicants register online or over the phone before arriving at a fingerprinting location. Applicants should bring a valid photo ID to the fingerprinting, as well as a money order or cashier’s check if they haven’t already paid for the services online. The fingerprinting process takes five to eight weeks, so candidates should have their fingerprints taken before submitting any other paperwork.

Substitute Teacher's License

All Alabama substitute teachers are required to hold a valid substitute teacher’s license. Candidates can find an application for this license at any school district office or on the ALSDE website. On the application, candidates are asked to provide basic personal and education information, as well as answer questions about the existence of any past investigations, disciplinary actions, felonies, misdemeanors, or questionable actions. Along with the form, candidates must also submit a $30 application fee to the ALSDE, which can be submitted online or in person as a money order or cashier’s check. After applying for a substitute teacher’s license, candidates can apply for positions within their local school districts.

Employment Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama had 17,480 substitute teachers as of May 2013, making it one of the higher employment states for this occupation. Alabama also has the third highest concentration of substitute teaching jobs in the country, after Wyoming and Idaho. The Alabama areas with the highest number of substitute teachers are Birmingham, Montgomery and Southwest Alabama non-metropolitan area. However, with an average salary of $17,300 per year, substitute teachers in Alabama have the second-lowest annual income in the country. The state with the lowest-earning substitute teachers is Mississippi.

Geographic State and Metropolitan Salary Map for Substitute Teachers


Marie Gentile has a passion for personal finance and style, and takes a special interest in the places where they intersect. She specializes in writing about money management and frugal living. Gentile has a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been published in several personal finance-related print and online publications.

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