Why You Should Consider Substitute Teaching for Your Encore Career

Swing EducationCareer Tips6 Comments

Since Americans are living longer and experiencing more healthy years after retirement, it’s only natural that some of them remain active participants in the workforce. In fact, according to a 2013 survey of adults over 50, more than 80% said it was likely that they’d work for pay after retiring from their primary career.

There are a variety of reasons why retirees may consider returning to the workforce, including:

  • Personal satisfaction and fulfillment
  • New experiences and learning opportunities
  • Extra income to supplement retirement savings

You may discover that your goals for an encore career may be different than what you prioritized before retirement — and substitute teaching might check a lot of the right boxes. Here are five reasons why substitute teaching might be a good fit for your encore career:

1) It’s Meaningful

One of the most noted characteristics of a good encore career is that it is purposeful work. This isn’t a job primarily focused on ladder-climbing or wealth accumulation. You’ve needed — and done — that sort of work before. Instead, many who go into substitute teaching do so because it impacts the community.

Mentoring students, influencing them in positive ways, and teaching them new ideas and concepts will help you feel good.

2) It values your experiences

What better way to connect with a younger generation than spending time in the classroom?

The best substitute teachers know that their experiences and knowledge are huge assets. I still remember a substitute who was famous around our middle school for his stories of hanging out with Fidel Castro (even though many of us knew little about Castro himself or Latin American politics).

Of course, you don’t have to have been in cahoots with world leaders to offer students glimpses into new worlds. Your former career, or even memories of life before the internet, are interesting and informative.

While students may think they’re “getting away with something” by having a substitute teacher tell a story about a former job in marine biology or time spent in Russia, this sort of engagement can be influential to students wondering why their school subjects are worthwhile or those thinking about what to pursue in college.

While a substitute teacher should never hijack the day’s lesson with their own content, sprinkling in memories and knowledge relevant to the day-to-day tasks is a welcome respite from the norm for many students. Their curiosity and questions can be fun, and schools look for substitute teachers who can engage students in this way.

3) It’s flexible

While many older Americans are not ready (or, often, financially prepared) to fully retire, they do value a less rigorous schedule. A regular 40-hour work week may no longer be the right fit; instead, you might be looking for a “bridge job” that won’t hold you back from enjoying hobbies and trips.

Substitute teachers can choose when and how much they’d like to work. Additionally, while a traditional teaching career could require years of extra schooling, substitute teaching is easy to break into if you’ve met some basic requirements, which differ among states.

4) It keeps you connected

In an article titled “The 4 Things about Retirement that Scare Us Most,” three of the four common fears author Ann Brenoff notes have to do with losing the connection a career can give you to your community. Brenoff lists getting bored, feeling unimportant, and losing step with culture as some of the worries most on seniors’ minds.

So how should one best combat the anxiety that comes with the such a major life transition? One way might be to surround yourself with an active and engaged community of teachers, students, and parents. These cross-generational connections can be valuable for everyone involved.

Plus, you might discover things you never thought you’d learn — like what Snapchat is, what Beyonce’s latest album sounds like, or how to simplify your commute with the Waze app. Just as students will benefit from the wealth of experience you’ve had, you can likewise benefit from their knowledge and experiences. Be open to learning all the fun and interesting things they have to teach you!

5) It’s a solid source of extra income

For a part-time job, substitute teaching pays well. In fact, in many states, substitute teachers can earn up to $200 a day! Additionally, long-term substitutes can expect even more than the daily rate.

This can go a long way toward bolstering your retirement savings — and why not do something fun and engaging that helps your bottom line?

Ready to get started in the classroom? Register with Swing to make the first step easy!

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6 Comments on “Why You Should Consider Substitute Teaching for Your Encore Career”

    1. Hi Barry,

      In most cases, Swing does require substitute teachers to hold bachelor’s degrees, but there are a few exceptions. Please reach out to talent@swingeducation.com if you’d like more information about getting started with us.

      Andy (Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager)

  1. I love being in the classroom after retiring from a sales career. The kids enjoy hearing about life experiences. I’m not required to do much teaching in 7-12. Teachers provide lesson plans to follow. It’s an easy gig. Mike Brill Nebraska

  2. Hello,
    So I recently retired after 35 years. Now I have to wait 180 days to start subbing. I live in Orange County, CA, where there is a teacher and substitute shortage. Do you think there’s a chance to return to work sooner? (As a substitute).

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