The Complete Guide to Becoming a Substitute Teacher in California

Alex MurilloRecruitment9 Comments

 

If you’re reading this guide, you have an idea of how rewarding it can be to be a substitute teacher. You get to help out schools when they need a hand, keep students on track with their academic goals, and broaden and deepen your teaching skills.

But, it can be confusing to figure out how to make the idea of being a sub a reality. This guide can help you take the first steps that will lead you to the classrooms that need you the most.

Here’s the complete guide to becoming a substitute teacher in California.

Why become a sub

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of becoming a sub, let’s take a look at why subbing is a rewarding path.

Make a difference

Subs are called into classrooms that have a teacher on an unexpected leave, to schools in the process of searching for new permanent staff, and to school districts facing teacher shortages. You can provide the support to the students who need it most.

Choose your schedule

As a sub, you can work when you want, where you want, and for as long as you want. If you have other commitments, work another job, or need to take care of your family, subbing can fit easily around your schedule.

Pick your classroom

As a sub, you’re never confined to a certain subject or school. You can visit the classrooms that are most appealing to you and experience teaching students of different ages and skill levels.

Boost your teaching skills

With all of this variety, you can hone your skills as an educator, gain more ease in front of the classroom, and get the experience you need to meet any teaching challenge.

Prepare for a permanent position

Subbing is a great stepping stone to becoming a permanent teacher. You’ll get an education in the character of the schools you visit and build crucial relationships with local communities.

Why Californians should start subbing

Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to go into subbing.

High salary

Subs in California are well compensated. You can earn an average of $20-$35/hour. In some schools, you can earn up to $280/per day.

High variety

As the largest state in the country, California has over 6 million students enrolled in public schools in over 1,000 school districts. No matter what your teaching preferences, you’ll be able to find a classroom to suit you.

High demand

California schools are struggling with teacher shortages — 80% of school districts report that they are understaffed and 35% say the problem continues to get worse. So qualified, dedicated subs are gold in the Golden State. The students and schools need you, which makes your choice to become a sub that much more meaningful.

How to get a substitute teaching permit

Getting a California sub permit will allow you to access the most teaching opportunities, including those in public school districts. However, not all substitute teaching roles require a permit.

There are three different kinds of permits to consider:

  1. Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit, the best choice for most prospective subs.
  2. Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers, for subs currently studying to become credentialed teachers.
  3. Emergency Career Substitute Permit, for experienced California subs.

Meet the general qualifications

No matter which permit makes the most sense for you, you’ll need to complete the following tasks:

  1. Pass a basic skills test. You can satisfy this requirement in any of the following ways:
    1. The SAT: Score 500 or higher in Critical Reading and 550 or higher in Math.
    2. The ACT: Score 22 or higher in English and 23 or higher in Math.
    3. The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST): Score at least 123 points. You can also qualify by passing the basic skills test of another state.
    4. The California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects Plus Writing Skills Examination: Score at least 220 on all three sections of the test.
    5. The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations: Score 3 or higher in math (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, or AP Statistics) and in English (AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition)
  2. Pay the $100 processing fee. (Note: Swing Education reimburses all its subs for all costs associated with getting permitted, background checks, fingerprinting, and TB tests.)

Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit

Who should get this permit

Get this permit if you’re just starting out and aren’t currently in school to become a certified teacher.

What this permit means

  • Teach as a day-to-day substitute in any classroom.
  • You can move from classroom to classroom throughout the entire school year, and you can sub for any individual teacher for up to 30 days (or up to 20 days for an individual teacher in special education classrooms).
  • After 30 days, you must sub in another teacher’s classroom.

How long this permit lasts

The permit is valid for one year, and may be renewed repeatedly.

Additional qualifications

  1. Provide transcripts for your baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution.
  2. Undergo a criminal background check and submit fingerprint records.

Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers

Who should get this permit

Get this permit if you’re currently enrolled in an accredited institution to become a certified teacher in California.

What this permit means

  • Teach as a day-to-day substitute in any classroom.
  • You may sub for any individual teacher for up to 30 days (or up to 20 days for an individual teacher in special education classrooms).
  • After 30 days, you must sub in another teacher’s classroom.

How long this permit lasts

The permit is valid for one year, and may be renewed only once.

Additional qualifications

  1. Provide transcripts for a minimum of 90 semester units of coursework at an accredited institution.
  2. Verify that you’re enrolled at an accredited 4-year institution in California with either official transcripts or a letter from the registrar.
  3. Undergo a criminal background check and submit fingerprint records.

Emergency Career Substitute Permit

Who should get this permit

Get this permit if you’re an experienced sub who has subbed for at least 90 days each year for three recent consecutive years in a single California county. This permit will allow you to sub in the same classroom longer than the 30-day permit.

What this permit means

  • Teach as a day-to-day substitute in any classroom.
  • You may work as a substitute teacher for up to 60 days for any one teacher during the school year (or up to 20 days for an individual teacher in special education classrooms).

How long this permit lasts

The permit is valid for one year, and may be renewed repeatedly.

Additional qualifications

  1. Provide transcripts for your baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution.
  2. Verify recent experience totaling at least 90 days of subbing per year for three recent consecutive years in a single California county.
  3. Provide a letter of endorsement from the district superintendent or the county office of education.

For more information, visit the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

How to get a background check

Unless you’re applying for a career substitute permit, you’ll need to go through the criminal background check process as part of your permit application.

To keep students safe, the state of California checks thoroughly into all prospective teachers’ histories. This includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Checking into your federal and state criminal history
  • Reviewing any reports in the international database of teacher misconduct associated with you
  • Investigating any history of complaints or flags from individual school districts

Steps to completing the background check

  1. Fill out the Application.
  2. If you have any incidents to report on your application, fill out the Professional Fitness Explanation Form for each incident.
  3. Get fingerprinted. (Note: Swing Education reimburses subs for costs associated with getting permitted, background checks, fingerprinting, and TB tests. Register with Swing, and we will provide you with more information)

Tips for your background check

  • Disclose everything.
  • Err on the side of over-reporting — include incidents even if they seem negligible to you, happened when you were a minor, or happened in another state.
  • Be thorough and specific.

Red flags on a background check

The following will bar you from teaching in the state of California:

  • Any violent crime
  • Any first- or second-degree crime
  • Any crime that endangered others
  • Most drug offenses

Like a court, the Commission will take the following into consideration when evaluating your criminal history:

  • Age when the crime occurred
  • Time elapsed since the crime occurred
  • Severity of the crime
  • Your record as a whole

How to get a TB test

The state also requires that all staff working with students provide evidence of a negative tuberculosis scan. A TB test is a two-step process.

  1. A small amount of fluid is injected into the skin of your arm. This forms a little bubble.
  2. You return to the TB testing site 48- to 72-hours after you’ve received your injection so the clinicians can examine the effects of the test.

If your test is negative, you’ll be provided results that you can share with your employers. If your test is positive, TB can be easily treated.

Options for completing a TB test

  • Visit any WellnessMart location.
  • If you can’t make it to a WellnessMart, you can go to your doctor or any other clinic.

Once you’ve completed the above, you’ll be ready to sub in California!

Excited? Register with Swing and get started today!

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9 Comments on “The Complete Guide to Becoming a Substitute Teacher in California”

  1. My name is Martha Ortiz, I’m interesting to be part of the swing program. I have more then 10 years in working in the early education program in different agencies. Please considered my application and give me the opportunity to be part of the program.

  2. Therefore, if I sub for a full 30 days straight or for example throughout a 2 month-period in different schools, I will have to pay another $100 to renew the Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Credential?

  3. I’m applying to be a sub in CA. The application states that I have to pass a physical exam to ensure I don’t have a disabling disease (code 44839). The application says to contact human resources if I feel I should be exempt from this. I’ve never had any disease. How can I show I’m exempt? There’s probably no way around it, I just thought I would check. Thank you!

    1. Hi Chase,

      I passed your question along to our substitute teacher support team, but we’re encountering a little bit of confusion with the specifics of your question. I’d like to learn more about your situation to be able to better assist — can you please send me an email (andy@swingeducation.com) with a few more details about where in the application process the physical exam requirement is mentioned? That might help us be able to more accurately answer your question.

      Thanks,
      Andy
      -Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager

  4. If I already have a preliminary teaching credential (CA Mild/Moderate Specialist), do I still need to get a 30-day permit? Thanks!

    1. Hi Patti,

      Thanks for your question!

      As long as your preliminary teaching credential is still valid, you will not need to get the 30-day permit.

      -Andy
      Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager

  5. IIhave a lifetime substitute teaching certificate from Washington which is where I earned my teaching degree. If I move to California and want to sub there, would I still be required to take the skills tests even though I’ve been subbing for 16 years?

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