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How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Los Angeles

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With more than 640,000 students in over 900 schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest K-12 school district in the nation. The district employs hundreds of teachers, including both permanent classroom teachers and substitute teachers who fill in for classroom teachers for days or weeks at a time while they are unavailable to teach. Requirements for becoming a substitute teacher in the LAUSD vary based on the applicant’s background and the district's current needs.

Credentialed Applicants

The LAUSD prefers that all substitute teacher candidates meet the same minimum qualifications as full-time classroom teachers. This includes holding a state-issued teaching license and completing a teacher preparation program with student teaching. Receiving a teaching license in California requires both fieldwork and a bachelor’s degree, although the state does not list specific course or credit hour requirements. LAUSD requires that all teachers have English Learner Authorization, which is also required by the state. English Learner Authorization, which can be earned through course work or an examination, certifies that the teacher has received specialized instructions for English language learners. More information on the English Learner Authorization can be found on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website.

Non-Credentialed Applicants

If the LAUSD considers non-credentialed substitute candidates, either due to a shortage of teachers or other circumstances, those non-credentialed candidates must meet a separate set of requirements. First, they must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.7. They must also complete and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test, which is designed to test the basic reading, math and writing skills of a potential educator. As of February 2015, the test costs $41 to take in person and $102 to take online, with additional fees for late registration. Candidates should have strong references from the last three years of work experience, and must have a successful interview with the Certificated Recruitment and Selection staff of the LAUSD. Finally, they must complete fingerprinting and health clearance. If hired, all non-credentialed candidates must complete mandatory pre-employment training through the district.

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Retired LAUSD Teachers

Retired teachers that formerly taught in the LAUSD must submit to a slightly different set of requirements in order to become a substitute within the district. Teachers who retired after January 1, 2013, must wait at least 180 calendar days before returning to work in a California State Teachers’ Retirement System compensated position, as mandated by state law. After that time, they can complete an online application, and if a district need arises, human resources will contact them to schedule an interview. Candidates should bring a reference from their last supervisor to the interview as well as a CalSTRS award letter with their official retirement date. If hired, they will need to submit a medical exam certificate, TB clearance, an employment authorization form and employment eligibility documents.

Application and Hiring Process

If you meet the qualifications for a substitute teacher, you can search for open positions and apply online at the Teach in LA website. After submitting an application, candidates may receive an e-mail requesting additional documents or information. Once hired, candidates must complete fingerprinting and a health screening. All substitutes need to be available for at least two consecutive days of teaching and must be able to substitute teach at all schools in their selected calling areas.

About the Author

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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