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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 3.5 million teachers are employed across the U.S. and earn median annual wages between $47,000 and $51,000 as of 2008. Substitute teachers step into a classroom to cover for these teachers during absences due to illness or personal reasons. While regular teachers work under contract with the school district and earn an annual salary, substitute teachers receive a daily rate of pay for days worked during the school year.
Requirements to become a substitute teacher vary by state and school district. To work as a substitute in Boston Public Schools, you must either possess a valid teaching license from Massachusetts or another state, hold a bachelor's degree in education or have completed two years in the classroom. A substitute training program including up to 10 hours of coursework and an exam is required for all individuals without a Massachusetts Educator License. In Georgia's Clayton County Public Schools, prospective substitute teachers must hold a valid bachelor's degree, pass a fingerprinting background check and attend an orientation. Priority is given to those with a current or expired Georgia teaching certificate. In Los Angeles Unified School District, substitute teachers must meet the same qualifications as a permanent classroom teacher, unless the need arises to consider those with a bachelor's degree but not a current teaching certificate.
Long Term Defined
School districts typically pay substitute teachers higher rates of daily pay for work in the same position on multiple consecutive days. In Boston Public Schools, long term positions are defined as those requiring more than 20 consecutive workdays but less than a full school year. Long term in Clayton County Public Schools is defined as any position working 10 or more consecutive days for the same teacher.
Daily Rates of Pay
The daily rate of pay for qualified substitute teachers in Boston Public Schools is $126, as of the date of publication, with an additional 3 percent given to those with a Massachusetts Educator License. In Clayton County Public Schools, the daily rate of pay is $83 for those with a bachelor's degree. Substitute teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District earn a daily rate of $173 or $28 per hour for a six-hour day. The National Education Association publishes a summary of the status of substitute teaching and estimates daily rates of pay to range from $75 in Delaware to $120 in Nebraska and Oregon.
Long Term Rates of Pay and Benefits
In Boston Public Schools, daily pay increases to $140 after 10 consecutive days in the same position and $253 after 25 days in a long term position. Substitutes in Boston working an average of 20 hours weekly are eligible for health and dental benefits and those working 60 days or more in a school year are granted membership in the teacher's union. Long term rates in Clayton County Public Schools range from $110 to $127, with the higher rate given to those with a current Georgia teaching license. In Los Angeles Unified schools, substitute teachers earn an extended rate of $233 per day. The National Education Association lists long term rates across the U.S. to include daily pay of $85 in Delaware, $141 in Oregon, $70 in South Carolina and up to $75 in Utah.
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Michelle Hornaday lives in Edmonds, Washington and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a freelance writer for various websites.