How to Become a Substitute Teacher in California?


Are you looking for a flexible teaching career option? Have you ever considered becoming a substitute teacher in California? Substitute teaching is a rewarding profession that offers flexibility and the opportunity to work with students of all ages. In this blog post, we will explore the role of a substitute teacher, the prerequisites for becoming one, and how to navigate the certification process.

To become a substitute teacher in California, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree, pass a background check, and obtain a substitute teaching permit or credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

The exact requirements and application process can vary by school district, so it’s best to check with the specific district where you wish to work for detailed instructions and any additional requirements.

We will also discuss the importance of background checks and what day-to-day substituting entails.

How to become a substitute teacher in California?

California Dreamin’ of subbing? Buckle up! Here’s a quick guide:

Must-haves: Bachelor’s degree, background check, and a can-do spirit. Think of it as your teacher toolkit.

Permit options

  • 30-day Emergency Permit: Your quickest jumpstart, but renews monthly.
  • Substitute Permit: Valid for a year, ideal for longer stints.
  • Specialized Permits: For experienced teachers or those in training programs.


  • Courses: Consider basic skills or subject-specific training for a competitive edge.
  • Experience: Volunteer or tutor to test your classroom mettle.

Finding jobs

  • School districts: Most opportunities are here. Apply directly or use their online portals.
  • Agencies: They connect you with schools and handle paperwork, but take a cut of your pay.


Understanding the Role of a Substitute Teacher


Substitute teaching offers valuable experience in the education field. As a substitute teacher, you step in for absent teachers, ensuring a productive learning environment. You have the opportunity to adapt to different classrooms and grade levels, honing your versatility.

Try to support their educational progress. You assist in classroom instruction and management as needed. Substitute teaching allows you to make a significant impact on students’ lives.


Why Choose Substitute Teaching as a Career?


Experience the fulfillment of positively impacting students’ lives while enjoying the flexibility to choose when and where to work.

Develop transferable skills like adaptability and effective communication, and explore diverse teaching methods in different school environments. Substitute teaching offers a rewarding career path contributing to education.


How to become a substitute teacher in California? Top 10 Steps


To become a substitute teacher in California, you must meet certain prerequisites. First, you need to fulfill the essential education requirements set by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). This includes possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

You must complete the fingerprinting process and pass a background check. Verifying your qualifications, such as transcripts and necessary certificates, is also necessary. Lastly, obtaining a tuberculosis (TB) clearance is crucial to ensure the health and safety of students.


1. Essential Education Requirements

To become a substitute teacher in California, you must meet the essential education requirements. These include holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

You should have completed coursework related to child development or teaching methods. It is also important to possess a teaching credential or have completed a teacher preparation program. Meeting these requirements ensures that you have the necessary educational foundation to effectively fulfill the role of a substitute teacher in the state of California.


2. Crucial Examination Requirements

To become a substitute teacher in California, you must meet crucial examination requirements. This includes passing the California Basic Skills Requirement (CBEST) exam.

If you are applying for a specific subject area, you must complete the appropriate subject matter examinations. These examination requirements ensure that substitute teachers have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively support students in the classroom.

Meeting these requirements is essential to obtaining a substitute permit and starting your career as a substitute teacher in the state of California.


3. Navigating the Certification Process

To become a substitute teacher in California, you need to navigate the certification process. There are different types of permits available for substitute teaching, each with its own requirements. Familiarize yourself with the application process and the required documentation.

It is important to determine the specific requirements of the school district you wish to work in. Completing any additional training or orientation programs required by the district is also necessary. Stay informed about any updates or changes in the certification process.


4. Complete higher education

To qualify as a substitute teacher, it is crucial to successfully obtain at least a bachelor’s degree.

Different school districts may have specific subject areas that they require for this degree, so it is helpful to establish your career objectives to decide on an appropriate program. Some potential bachelor’s programs to consider are:

5. Additional Steps

To become a qualified substitute teacher, you need to take specific subject area tests. The tests you take depend on the permit you are seeking and your preferences. All permits require you to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBET) with a minimum score of 123. Other testing options to consider include:

  • Applying for the Career Technical Education (CTE) 30-day permit
  • Achieving a score of 220 on the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET)
  • Achieving a score of 3 or above in both mathematics and English on The College Boards Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
  • With a score of 500 in critical reading and 550 in mathematics on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)


6. Get a tuberculosis test

In California, teachers must undergo a tuberculosis test. Substitute teachers must take this test within 60 days before submitting their application to become a substitute teacher.

This requirement serves the purpose of identifying any potential health risks and contributing towards the overall well-being of both faculty.


7. Obtain fingerprint clearance

Irrespective of whether they replace or fulfill a background check utilizing their fingerprints for teaching purposes, all teachers’ background checks in California are handled by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This check, also referred to as a live scan, typically takes anywhere from three to seven days to finish. Alternatively, teachers can opt to have their fingerprinting done by their school district or by an external fingerprinting service.


8. Substitute Teacher Jobs

After fulfilling all testing requirements, you are eligible to begin your search for substitute teacher positions within your community. You can utilize online job boards that frequently advertise teaching vacancies and reach out to local educational institutions to gather information regarding available substitute roles.

You may choose to join a school district’s call list. This will allow the facility to contact you when substitute positions become available. It is advisable to inform teachers in your local network about your status as a substitute teacher as certain schools permit teachers to request specific substitutes.


9. Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit

To gain immediate eligibility for substitute teaching, individuals can obtain an Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit in the state of California. This permit allows them to substitute teach for up to 30 days within a single school year. It is ideal for those seeking short-term substitute teaching opportunities.

To qualify for this permit, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and complete a Live Scan background check. By obtaining this permit, individuals can quickly start their substitute teaching career in California.


10. Certified Substitute Certification

Possessing this certification can provide employers with insight into your familiarity with classroom management techniques and childhood development.

Although not mandatory in the state of California, completing this program can prove beneficial if you plan to relocate to states where this certification is obligatory.

The duration of this certification varies depending on the program selected and the specific requirements of each state.


How to get a substitute teaching permit in California?

Obtaining a substitute teaching permit in California involves several steps:

  1. Meet Education Requirements: You generally need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution to qualify for a substitute teaching permit in California.
  2. Complete a Live Scan Fingerprinting Background Check: You’ll need to undergo a background check through Live Scan fingerprinting to ensure you meet the state’s eligibility criteria.
  3. Choose the Appropriate Permit: California offers multiple types of substitute permits. You can apply for a 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit, which is the most common, or other specialized permits depending on your qualifications.
  4. Submit an Application: You can apply for a substitute teaching permit through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) website. Ensure that you meet all the requirements and submit the necessary documents.
  5. Pass the Basic Skills Requirement: You may need to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or provide proof of equivalent skills.
  6. Complete TB Testing: Many school districts require a negative tuberculosis (TB) test result, so check with your local district for specific health requirements.
  7. Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training: In some cases, you may need to complete training on recognizing child abuse.
  8. Pay the Application Fee: There is usually a fee associated with the application process. Be prepared to cover this cost.
  9. Wait for Approval: After submitting your application and meeting all requirements, you’ll need to wait for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to process your application and issue your permit.
  10. Renewal: Substitute teaching permits are typically valid for five years and may be renewed as needed. Make sure to keep your permit current by fulfilling any renewal requirements.

Substitute Teacher Requirements

Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers

The Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers is specifically designed for individuals who are pursuing a career in teaching. This permit offers valuable practical classroom experience, allowing prospective teachers to gain hands-on teaching skills.

It is valid for one year and can be renewed for up to two consecutive years. To obtain this permit, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and complete the necessary fingerprinting and background checks.

Prospective teachers can enhance their qualifications and increase their chances of securing a teaching position in the state of California.


Emergency Career Substitute Permit

If you have significant work experience in a specific field, the Emergency Career Substitute Permit is designed for you. This permit allows qualified professionals to substitute teach on a long-term basis in California.

To obtain this permit, you will need a bachelor’s degree and undergo fingerprinting and a background check. The permit is valid for one year and can be renewed. It provides an opportunity for individuals with expertise to make a meaningful impact in California schools.


The Importance of Background Checks

Background checks play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of students in schools. These checks help maintain high standards of professionalism and ethics within the education system.

Background checks protect the reputation of the school and enable informed hiring decisions when it comes to substitute teachers. Ultimately, they contribute to promoting a secure and conducive learning process for students in California schools.


Types of Substitute Teacher Permits in California

In the state of California, there are four primary categories of teaching permits available. It is crucial to thoroughly investigate each permit category as they determine the specific assignments you can undertake.

When deciding on which permit to pursue, it is important to consider various types of assignments such as day-to-day, short-term, and long-term options. Below are the different teaching permits offered in California:

  • 30-day permit
  • Permit for teaching provided to aspiring educators
  • Teacher Career permit
  • 30-day permit for Career Technical Education (CTE)

As per the California Department of Education, individuals who hold the Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers are permitted to act as substitute teachers daily in any classroom setting, which includes preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-12. This permit also allows them to teach classes primarily intended for adults.

The holder is allowed to act as a replacement for a single teacher for a maximum of 30 days and can serve as a substitute for no more than 90 days throughout the school year.


People also ask to know

What does day-to-day substituting entail?

Day-to-day substituting involves following lesson plans, creating a positive learning environment, adapting to different grades and subjects, managing behavior, and building relationships with students and staff.


Can Substitute Teaching Become a Long-term Career Option?

Substitute teaching can indeed become a long-term career option. It provides valuable teaching experience across different school levels.

Offers opportunities for professional growth through staff development activities, helps build a strong network within the education community, and has the potential for higher pay and benefits with long-term assignments.

Besides, there are many ways of parent-teacher Communication Strategies that you should know.

Substitute teaching can serve as a stepping stone to transitioning into a full-time teaching position with the right qualifications.


Do you need a bachelor’s degree to be a substitute teacher in California?

Is a degree required to become a substitute teacher in California? Yes, you do need a Bachelor’s degree in any subject and must apply for a substitute teaching permit with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which is valid for at least 30 days.


How to adapt to different classroom environments as a Substitute Teacher?

To effectively adapt to different classroom environments as a substitute teacher, it is important to familiarize yourself with the school’s policies.

Establish clear expectations and routines for the students, utilize effective classroom culture strategies, and communicate with the regular teacher for guidance and support. Being flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of diverse learners is crucial.


How many days can a substitute teacher work in California?

Substitute teachers are subject to restrictions on the duration of their service as a substitute for any individual teacher in a school year.

They are not allowed to exceed a total of 30 days in any general education classroom and 20 days in any special education classroom.


Last Word

In conclusion, becoming a substitute teacher in California requires meeting certain prerequisites and navigating the certification process. It is important to understand the role of a substitute teacher and the day-to-day responsibilities involved. Substitute teaching can be a fulfilling career option, offering flexibility to make a positive impact on students’ education.

Adapting to different classroom environments and maintaining a professional demeanor is crucial for success in this role. Whether you choose substitute teaching as a stepping stone or a long-term career, it is important to be prepared, and committed to providing quality education to students.


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