No one spends fifteen plus years in school with a final goal to become a “professional substitute teacher”. While there are many reasons that a person might go into substitute teaching, making it a life long career isn’t one of them.
A newly minted credentialed teacher discovers that teaching jobs aren’t as plentiful as expected. Subbing is a way to get your foot in the door, make contacts and demonstrate your abilities in the attempt to land that ideal job you previously thought was waiting for you after graduation.
The just retired teacher can’t quite walk away from the classroom just yet. Some of the reasons might include subbing as a way to keep in touch with life long teacher friends or a pension supplement for that yearly cruise vacation.
You volunteered your time at the school while your kids attended. Now they’re out of school and on their own. That empty nest feeling is getting to you. Feeling it’s too late to start a new career, subbing at least pays something for what you used to for free and yet allows flexibility to take off whenever you need.
Laid off in a down economy, unemployment insurance ran out and not enough in the savings account to survive. No matter what they say or what’s legal, being over 50 years of age is a big negative in the competition for employment in a professional industry position. Educators refer to anyone not working for the schools or government as “industry”. Subbing is flexible enough to schedule job interviews around if they materialize. In the mean time, subbing income helps pay some of the bills until you’re old enough to start taking Social Security. This is me.
Then there is a small majority, one of which I met recently. She’s close to my age and, coincidently, attended the same high school I did. After graduation she skipped college and went directly into the workforce. She didn’t elaborate on her employment history but did tell me that a while back she returned to school and obtained her BA, Masters and a teaching credential hoping to get a teaching position.
When that didn’t happen she started subbing full time. She’s currently signed with three districts and has worked for almost every district in the area since she graduated university. Three districts will almost guarantee an assignment every school day. She has invested in keeping her teaching credential current in the hope that a teaching position will open for her. She’s been subbing for nine years and is no closer to a teaching position than when she started.
She’s given up hope to be a full time teacher as she told me she isn’t going to renew her teaching credential next year. She will continue to substitute full time until she reaches retirement age.
“I have no choice. I have to…”