How To Obtain A Substitute Teaching License In Illinois?


The Illinois education system flourishes on a foundation of dedicated educators and the unwavering support provided by substitute teachers. Are you drawn to the dynamic energy of the classroom and possess a passion for fostering intellectual growth?  If so, obtaining a substitute teaching license in Illinois could be the ideal springboard for your educational journey.  

This comprehensive guide serves as your roadmap to navigate the clear and efficient process of how to obtain a substitute teaching license in Illinois. By following these steps, you’ll be empowered to contribute to the success of Illinois schools, igniting a spark of curiosity in young minds, one inspiring temporary assignment at a time.

This guide delves deeper than simply listing requirements. Here, we’ll not only outline the necessary steps but also provide valuable insights and resources to ensure a smooth and successful licensure process. So, prepare to unlock doors to educational impact within the vibrant classrooms of Illinois.


What is a Substitute Teaching License?

In the dynamic world of education, a substitute teaching license is your key to making a temporary yet impactful contribution in K-12 classrooms. It’s a formal authorization that allows qualified individuals to fill in for certified teachers who are absent. This ensures that classroom instruction continues without disruption, maintaining educational continuity for students. 

Substitute teachers play a critical role by bridging staffing gaps and fostering a positive learning environment, even during periods of teacher absence. The specific requirements to obtain a substitute teaching license vary by state but generally involve meeting basic educational qualifications, passing a rigorous background check, and completing a training program focused on classroom management and effective instructional strategies.


Why Choose Substitute Teaching in Illinois?

The decision to pursue a substitute teaching license is a commendable one, and the state you choose can significantly impact your experience. Here’s why Illinois stands out as an exceptional launchpad for your substitute teaching journey:


  • High Demand: Illinois schools consistently face a shortage of substitute teachers. This translates to ample opportunities for qualified individuals to find placements and make a real difference.
  • Diverse Learning Environments: From bustling urban centers to charming rural communities, Illinois boasts a rich tapestry of school districts, each offering unique educational settings. This diversity allows you to tailor your experience to your preferences.
  • Competitive Compensation: Substitute teachers in Illinois enjoy competitive pay rates, making it a rewarding way to contribute to your income while exploring your passion for education.
  • Supportive Network: The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) provides a wealth of resources and support for substitute teachers, ensuring you feel equipped and prepared for each assignment.
  • Pathway to Growth: A substitute teaching license in Illinois can serve as a springboard for further educational pursuits. The experience gained and connections made can pave the way for permanent teaching positions or other education-related opportunities.\

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How to Obtain A Substitute Teaching License in Illinois?

The Illinois education system thrives on a dedicated workforce, and substitute teachers play a vital role in ensuring its smooth operation. If you possess a passion for fostering learning and yearn to contribute to the academic success of students.

Then obtaining a substitute teaching license in Illinois can be a fulfilling first step. This guide simplifies the process, outlining the clear and efficient steps required to navigate the licensure journey.

how to obtain a substitute teaching license in illinois?

Step-1: Eligibility Requirements:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) establishes the eligibility criteria for substitute teaching licenses.  To qualify, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Hold a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution is the minimum educational qualification for a substitute teaching license in Illinois.
  • Pass a Background Check: A rigorous background check is mandatory for all substitute teaching license applicants. This ensures the safety and well-being of students.

Step-2: Two License Options:

Illinois offers two substitute teaching license options, catering to different educational backgrounds:

  • Substitute Teaching License (SUB): This license is ideal for individuals holding a bachelor’s degree in any field.  It allows them to substitute teach in preschool through grade 12 classrooms across various subjects.
  • Short-Term Substitute Teaching License (STS): This license caters to individuals possessing an Associate’s degree or higher, or those who have completed at least 60 semester hours of coursework at an accredited institution. The STS license permits substitute teaching for a maximum of 100 school days per year, primarily in elementary school settings (grades K-8).

Step-3: The Application Process:

The application for a substitute teaching license is handled through the Illinois Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

  • Create an ELIS Account: Visit the ISBE website and create an ELIS account.  This online platform will serve as your central hub throughout the licensure process.
  • Select Your License Type: Within your ELIS account, choose the appropriate license type (SUB or STS) and proceed with the application.
  • Submit Application and Fees: Complete the online application form, ensuring all information is accurate and up-to-date. Pay the associated application fee, which varies depending on the chosen license type.
  • Official Transcripts: Request your official transcripts from your degree-granting institution(s) to be sent electronically to the ISBE at
  • Background Check: The ISBE will initiate a background check as part of the application process.  Ensure all necessary information is provided to facilitate a smooth and efficient verification.
  • Statement of Good Health: A statement signed by a licensed physician, attesting to your good physical and mental health, might be required depending on the Regional Office of Education (ROE) you are applying to.


Step-4: Additional Considerations:

  • Fingerprint Requirement: Some Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) may require fingerprinting as part of the background check process. Contact your local ROE for specific details.
  • Training Opportunities: While not mandatory, the ISBE encourages substitute teachers to participate in professional development opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge.
  • License Registration: Once your license is approved, you will need to register with the Regional Office of Education (ROE) in the specific region(s) where you intend to substitute teach. There may be additional fees associated with registration.

Read also more related topics: How To Get Teaching Experience To Become A Professor?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a substitute teaching license in Illinois?

The processing time for a substitute teaching license in Illinois can vary depending on several factors, including application volume and background check turnaround. A general estimate suggests it could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to receive your license after submitting a complete application.


Can I substitute teaching in other states with an Illinois license?

Unfortunately, an Illinois substitute teaching license is not valid in other states. Each state has its licensing requirements and reciprocity agreements. If you’re interested in substitute teaching opportunities outside of Illinois, you’ll need to research the specific requirements for the desired state.


What are the renewal requirements for a substitute teaching license in Illinois?

Substitute teaching licenses in Illinois are valid for five years. To renew your license, you’ll need to submit a renewal application through ELIS, pay a renewal fee, and demonstrate completion of Illinois’ Test of Basic Skills (TAP 400) or an approved exemption.


Where can I find more information about substitute teaching opportunities?

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website offers a wealth of resources for substitute teachers, including job boards and information on professional development opportunities. You can also explore online job boards dedicated to education or contact your local Regional Office of Education (ROE) for openings in your area.


Is there a minimum GPA requirement for obtaining a substitute teaching license?

No, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) does not have a minimum GPA requirement for substitute teaching licenses. You must possess a qualifying degree from an accredited institution.


What if I don’t have my official transcripts readily available?

The preferred method is to request your official transcripts from your degree-granting institution(s) to be sent electronically to If this is not feasible, you might be able to submit unofficial transcripts for initial application review. You’ll likely need to provide official transcripts before your license is issued.


Do I need to take any training courses before I can start substitute teaching?

While not mandatory, the ISBE encourages substitute teachers to participate in professional development opportunities. These courses can equip you with valuable classroom management skills, instructional strategies, and knowledge of curriculum standards.


Final Note

The journey to becoming a substitute teacher in Illinois is a clear and attainable one. By meeting the basic requirements, navigating the streamlined application process, and staying informed with the FAQs addressed here. You’ll be well-equipped to unlock this rewarding career path.

Substitute teaching offers an exceptional blend of flexibility and impact. You’ll have the autonomy to choose your schedule, while simultaneously contributing meaningfully to the education system. Each day presents a unique opportunity to foster learning, ignite curiosity, and support students in their academic endeavors. Coupled with the ongoing professional development opportunities available. It will empower you to make a positive difference in the lives of countless young minds.


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