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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Subbing As a Career...

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…”


Tiffany said...


This is disheartening. I don't think I could make subbing a full-time long-term gig.

GT Goddess said...

Sigh. So true. In my district you HAVE to have a teaching license to sub, so everyone in the sub pool either had been or wants to be a classroom teacher.

Stacey said...

This really scares me! I graduated last year and of course couldn't find a teaching position, so I'm subbing for now. I've heard other horror stories of people subbing for several years and never able to get a teaching job. It almost makes me want to rethink my career choice. But at least we do have subbing, unlike other professions which have a permanent job or nothing.

Margaret Kravat said...

At least she can sub for that long! My certification expires within 6 years of working within a school district. To get permanent certification, you need to get a permanent position and be in it for 3 of your 6 service years. If you don't find a permanent position, your certification expires and you don't get to renew it.

Nadia said...

I actually know quite a few relief teachers (TRTs) who have chosen that as a career. They say it's more flexible and they don't feel the need for their own class.

Chariot said...

Maybe she's doing something wrong? Bad resume. Not good at interviews. And then there's the "Just like everyone else problem". To get a full time position these days you need to stand out. Learn a foreign language. Have a second area you can teach in--computers, spanish, etc. And then you also need to be willing to do things like bus duty or coaching.

Sladed said...

I was in her same boat. Did a great job for teachers, went above and beyond, got recommendations from teachers and principals. Never worked out. Sometimes the people hiring prefer younger people they believe they can mold and control better. With districts hiring 1 or 2 or 4 teachers from a pool of 500-700, the odds are pretty tough. I gave after coming up short. Doesn't mean it's impossible, I just never made the final cut. Having been laid off from my 'industry' job, I may be back in the sub pool.

Anonymous said...

Rethink your career choice. You will be very unhappy stuck as a sub. Don't wind up like me. I have two master's degrees. Wasted my time