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How to Obtain a Substitute Teaching Certificate

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Substitute teachers work on an as-needed basis to fill in for teacher absences due to illness, vacation days and personal emergencies. The responsibilities of a substitute teacher include classroom management, taking attendance, executing lesson plans, giving out tests/quizzes and assisting students with class work. Whether you want to become a teacher or simply seeking a part-time job, substitute teaching can be a challenging and rewarding career. Although each school district has varying application requirements, you will need to obtain a substitute teaching certificate through your state in order to work as a substitute teacher.

Contact your state and local department of education to make sure you meet your state’s individual criteria to obtain a substitute teaching certificate. For example, many states require substitute teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree.

Visit the superintendent’s office located at the school district where you want to work as a substitute teacher. Ask the secretary to give you the substitute teacher application paperwork.

Fill out the substitute teacher employment application, which usually requests basic information about your previous work experience, educational background and related job skills. Make a copy of your driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card or other paperwork to verify your identity with your state’s department of education office.

Contact your alma mater to get your official college transcripts sent directly to the school district’s superintendent office. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, college transcripts must be sealed and sent directly from the university to be considered official.

Make an appointment to get your fingerprints done and submit to a background check at a state approved fingerprinting business or police department. Most states require substitute teachers to pass a criminal background check in order to obtain certification. Pay the required fingerprinting fees prior to your appointment date.

Hand in your application, identity verification forms and the required substitute application fee to the school district’s superintendent office. Schedule an interview with the superintendent to consider your employment application.

Wait for your local board of education members to review your application at an upcoming meeting. You will be able to claim substitute teaching jobs once you receive official approval and your substitute teaching certificate.


Many state department of education office’s require substitute teachers to get a tuberculosis shot as part of the application process.