Substitute teachers play a vital role in the education system, filling in for full-time teachers when they are absent. As a substitute teacher, you positively impact students’ lives, gain valuable teaching experience, and earn a competitive salary. 

North Carolina has a high demand for substitute teachers, and you can easily become one.

This article will cover the education requirements, responsibilities, and steps to become a substitute teacher in North Carolina.

What Is a Substitute Teacher?

A substitute teacher fills in for a full-time teacher when absent due to illness, personal reasons, or other factors.

The substitute teacher steps in and delivers lessons as outlined in the lesson plan and accompanying assignments the regular teacher provides.

Substitute teaching is a flexible job and can be either part-time or longer-term. This allows substitute teachers to choose work that suits their needs and schedule.

Substitute teachers must be over 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and have completed at least 60 semester or 45 quarter hours of college coursework. Potential substitute teachers need to research the requirements in their area before pursuing this type of work.

Responsibilities of a Substitute Teacher

Substitute teaching looks great on any resume as it shows you have the capability and patience to teach others and a wide array of additional skills, including information communication and organizational skills.

Here will be your responsibilities as a substitute teachers:

  • Follow the full-time teacher’s lesson plan or create one if none is available.
  • Record attendance according to school procedure to ensure all students are accounted for.
  • Assign homework to students per the lesson plan.
  • Supplement the lesson plan with other classroom activities, if time allows, to enhance the learning experience for students.
  • Maintain discipline in the classroom and ensure a safe and productive learning environment per school policies.
  • Work collaboratively with all school personnel and parents to promote student success.
  • Compile reports for the full-time teacher that include student attendance, progress on the lesson plan, disciplinary actions, and positive developments.
  • Complete any non-instructional duties assigned by the full-time teacher, such as collecting and placing student papers in the regular teacher’s desk or designated area.
  • Return all instructional materials, equipment, and keys to the proper place at the end of the day to ensure that everything is in its proper place for the next day.

For additional information on the requirements and application procedure, contact the LEA that serves the school district where you want to substitute teach.

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Steps to Become a Substitute Teacher in North Carolina

In North Carolina, becoming a substitute teacher is a great way to get into teaching or work part-time while pursuing other interests.

While the state does not require a substitute teacher to have licensure, each Local Education Agency (LEA) sets its specific education requirements. It’s therefore important to research the specific requirements of the county where you wish to work.

Most LEAs require potential substitutes to have a high school diploma or GED and to undergo substitute teacher in-service training. In addition, state and federal fingerprinting and background checks are required for all substitute teachers.

Here are the steps to become a substitute teacher in North Carolina:

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree states a bachelor’s degree is required for a substitute teacher role in North Carolina.

The degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in education, but it should be in a subject closely related to the subject you want to teach. While a bachelor’s degree is not always required to become a substitute teacher in North Carolina, it can be helpful to have one.

A bachelor’s degree or some amount of college credits may be necessary in some school systems. A degree can make you a more competitive candidate for substitute teaching positions.

Consider Getting a Substitute Teaching License

While a teaching license is not always required to become a substitute teacher in North Carolina, it is helpful.

A substitute teaching license demonstrates your commitment to the profession and makes you a more competitive candidate for substitute teaching positions.

To obtain a substitute teaching license in North Carolina, you must have a bachelor’s degree and complete a substitute teacher training program.

Apply to a Local School District’s Substitute Teacher Pool

Once you meet the set educational requirements, you can apply to the substitute teacher pool at your preferred school district in North Carolina.

This process may involve submitting an application, undergoing a background check, and attending a training session. It is important to check with the specific school district for their application process and requirements.

According to, North Carolina does not require a substitute teacher to have licensure.

However, each LEA sets its educational requirements for substitute teachers. For example, Wake County Public School System requires a minimum high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Ensure You Meet All Hiring Requirements for Substitutes in Your School District

Before you can begin accepting assignments as a substitute teacher, you must ensure that you meet all hiring requirements for substitutes in your school district. These requirements may include passing a background check, completing a drug test, and providing proof of immunizations.

Begin Accepting Assignments as a Substitute Teacher

Once you have met all the requirements and have been approved to work as a substitute teacher, you can begin accepting assignments. 

Substitute teachers are often called on short notice to fill in for absent teachers, so be prepared to be flexible and adaptable.

Teaching License for Substitute Teachers

In the State of North Carolina, having a teaching license is not a requirement for substitute teachers. However, having one can significantly improve your chances of getting hired. 

Substitute teachers with licenses from other states can attach them to their job applications. And you’re typically required to add three professional references along with it.

While most states have a teacher certification process, North Carolina does not require one. Applicants can gain teacher training online or acquire enough relevant work experience to prove their competency.

North Carolina recognizes several different teaching credentials, such as the Initial Professional License (IPL) and the Continuing Professional License (CPL). You can apply as a substitute teacher if you meet the requirements.

In addition, Teachers of Tomorrow provides alternative pathways to teacher certification, including online coursework and practical classroom experience. You can use certification from Teachers of Tomorrow as an option to obtain your teaching license.

It is important to note that even with a teaching license, substitute teachers may have different requirements and expectations than full-time teachers. Substitute teachers should be prepared to adapt quickly to new environments and be flexible with lesson plans and teaching styles.

Necessary Skills for Substitute Teachers in North Carolina 

According to, any experience can increase your chances of being hired as a substitute teacher. Each Local Education Agency (LEA) has its own educational standards for substitute instructors.

However, most schools insist that their substitute teachers have a bachelor’s degree and complete in-house training.

Let’s look at the necessary skills for substitute teachers in North Carolina:

  • Flexibility- As a substitute teacher, you need to be flexible and adaptable because you’ll often be requested on short notice in different classrooms and different grade levels on short notice. You must adjust to new situations and follow the lesson plans.
  • Patience- This helps you remain calm and composed in the face of challenging situations, such as disruptive students or unexpected changes to the lesson plan.
  • Interpersonal Skills– You must have excellent interpersonal skills to build rapport with students and establish a positive classroom environment. You must also communicate effectively with students, teachers, and staff members.
  • Leadership Skills– Substitute teachers must be able to take charge of the classroom and lead students through the lesson plan. They must be confident and assertive while also being approachable and friendly.
  • Organizational Skills– You need to be highly organized because you may be responsible for managing multiple classrooms and lesson plans in a single day. Organizational skills help you to keep track of schedules, lesson plans, and other important information.

Additional skills include:

  • Accountability– Substitute teachers should be responsible and reliable, ensuring they arrive on time and fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities.
  • Adaptability– This means you’re flexible and adapt to new environments, curricula, and students.
  • Public Speaking– Being comfortable with public speaking is necessary to present information effectively, communicate with students, and lead classroom discussions.
  • Problem-Solving – Substitute teachers should be able to think critically and creatively to solve problems that arise during their workday.
  • Time Management – You must manage your time effectively, covering all necessary material and adhering to the school’s schedule.
  • Instructing – Substitute teachers must be skilled in instructing students, providing clear explanations, and facilitating classroom discussions.
  • Networking – Building relationships with other educators can provide valuable resources and support in substitute teaching.
  • Working with Children – Substitute teachers with experience working with children or teaching can bring knowledge and skills to the classroom. They may have experience with different age groups, learning styles, and classroom management techniques. This can help them to better connect with students and create a positive learning environment.

Benefits of Being a Substitute Teacher

Why should you become a substitute teacher?

  • A well-paying job – While the pay rate varies depending on the school district, substitute teachers can earn a decent income while working part-time. This is great if you’re looking for supplemental income or want to work part-time while pursuing other interests.
  • Flexible Schedule – You can choose your schedule and work as much or as little as you want. This makes it an ideal career choice, especially if you have other commitments or responsibilities.
  • Fun Work Atmosphere – Substitute teaching can be a fun and rewarding experience. Each day is different because you work with various students and teachers. This makes the job exciting and engaging, as every day is different.
  • Opportunities to Inspire Younger Generations- You have the unique opportunity to inspire and motivate younger generations and positively impact their lives by providing a safe and supportive learning environment.
  • Improve your chances of landing a full-time teaching career- Being a substitute teacher improves your chances of landing a full-time teaching career because you gain experience in the classroom and make connections with school administrators and teachers.
  • Acquire transferable skills– You learn to adapt to different teaching styles and classroom environments, manage behavior issues, and communicate effectively with students, parents, and colleagues. 
  • It provides opportunities to network– Working in different schools and classrooms lets you meet other teachers, administrators, and staff members who can offer advice, support, or job leads.

Additional benefits include;

  • 401(k): A retirement savings plan that allows you to save a portion of your income before taxes are paid.
  • 401(k) matching: Some employers may match your contributions to your 401(k) up to a certain amount.
  • Employee assistance program: A program that provides resources and support to employees for various issues, such as mental health, financial planning, and legal advice.
  • Employee discount: A discount on goods or services your employer or partner organizations provide.
  • Flexible spending account: A tax-advantaged account that allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible expenses, such as healthcare or dependent care.
  • Health insurance: An insurance plan that helps cover the cost of medical care, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications.
  • Life insurance: An insurance plan that provides financial support to your beneficiaries during your death.
  • Paid orientation: A period of training or onboarding paid for by the employer, typically provided to new hires or those starting a new role.
  • Dental insurance: Under the Flexible Benefits program, the Department of Public Instruction provides dental insurance. The employee is responsible for the entire expense of dental coverage.
  • Disability insurance: This plan provides income for eligible State employees who become temporarily or permanently disabled for performing duties before retirement.

Salary Expectations for Substitute Teachers in North Carolina

According to Indeed, the average salary for a substitute teacher in North Carolina is $32,392 per year. 

The average salary range for substitute teachers in North Carolina is typically between $24,508 and $42,812 per year. This range is influenced by various factors, such as the demand for substitute teachers, the school district’s budget, and the level of education and experience of the substitute teacher.

Here are the top 5 highest paying cities for substitute teachers in North Carolina, based on average salary data from Indeed:

  • Asheville – $34,360 per year
  • Durham – $32,346 per year
  • Hillsborough – $31,333 per year
  • Concord – $30,837 per year
  • Charlotte – $29,719 per year

It is worth noting that these figures are based on averages and may not represent all substitute teaching positions in these cities. Consider this when evaluating substitute teaching opportunities in North Carolina.

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Job Outlook for Substitute Teachers in North Carolina

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows that there is growing demand for substitute teachers in North Carolina. It is expected to grow by 11.6% in the coming years, higher than the average growth rate for other occupations.

Next year alone, around 14,180 substitute teachers are projected to be hired in North Carolina. This presents a great opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing a career in education. Substitute teaching is an excellent way to gain experience in the field and transition into a full-time teaching position.

The job outlook for substitute teachers in North Carolina is promising, making it a good career option for those looking to enter the education sector.

Make an Impact on Younger Generations

By sharing your knowledge, skills, and experience with younger individuals, you inspire and motivate them to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

You also help shape their values and beliefs, promoting positive social behaviors and contributing to the development of responsible and active citizens.

Getting certified in teaching or mentoring can give you a competitive advantage when seeking employment or pursuing opportunities to work with younger generations.

Certification, combined with your bachelor’s degree, demonstrates your commitment to the profession, willingness to continue learning, and ability to meet the standards of excellence.

Apply for your teacher certification today and begin your substitute teacher journey.