Substitute teachers are essential parts of the educational system; they are the ones who step in when needed, and who fill in to make sure students get the education they deserve.
Enhance your substitute teacher resume with these tips and examples, to get your foot through the school building door! We have included a complete resume sample at the bottom of this article.
Resume objective for substitute teachers
When a hiring manager or a school board picks up your resume, it will possibly be one of many. You need something to make you stand out. By adding a resume objective at the top, your future employers get to see a glimpse of who you are, your teaching style and your professional goals.
What makes a job as a substitute teacher so unique is that you often need to possess knowledge of multiple subjects, as you could get called in to teach math, English, science or geography, or perhaps even physical education!
The more you know, the better it is, so make sure you include a bit about your expertise in your resume objective, along with your teaching experience, potential teaching credentials and aspirations as an educator.
Flexibility and organization are two of the substitute teacher key skills mentioned by Linkedin, and the ability to read the room.
We sampled 15 resumes and 15 real job posts, and noticed that employers tended to look for someone who contributes to the education of each student, rather than to just fill a temporary gap.
The days of a substitute teacher are rarely the same, and unless you are flexible – you probably won’t last long on the job, which will cause a headache for your employers.
Warm, caring and experienced substitute teacher with widespread knowledge and a passion for providing quality education to both children and adults. Positive and dedicated to finding creative approaches to teaching, where every student’s individual learning curve is respected and considered a strength, rather than a weakness.
Resume skills for substitute teachers
By using adjectives that highlight flexibility, diversity, dedication and listening skills, you get a chance to show that you are someone who can jump in at any time, and adapt to the circumstances. These are key skills for a substitute teacher, to make sure you are ready when needed.
While we were sampling job posts and resumes to pinpoint the most important skills for a substitute teacher, we paid special attention to what the biggest job sites had to say.
Indeed.com points out the importance of being adaptable and able to connect easily with students. As a substitute teacher, you might not work with the same students continuously, and the window to catch their attention is often small.
List organizational skills and portray yourself as a critical thinker, natural leader and as a compassionate individual who is passionate about helping students reach their full potential. Ask yourself – what makes a good teacher? And base your skill section on your answer.
Keep in mind that the role of a substitute teacher is a little different, so you might also want to mention your ability to teach different subjects.
Communicative | Organized | Critical thinker | Excellent interpersonal skills | Bachelor in Education | Time management | English & Mandarin | Special education | Friendly | Compassionate
Substitute teacher work experience
While many schools are desperate for substitute teachers, they are usually looking for someone who can provide their students with valuable lessons and quality education. Due to this, your work experience tends to be one of the first things hiring managers look at.
If you can demonstrate past experience working in a school environment, then that shows that you know and understand what you are in for, and that you are prepared for the sometimes tricky role of substituting another teacher in a class.
The job posts we sampled in our research showed a general preference for past experience, and while you might be able to score a substitute teacher job also without – you run the risk of becoming overlooked if there are other applicants.
Substitute teachers tend to have a background in teaching, and many opt to volunteer to further enhance their resumes when they feel their teaching experience might be falling short (or be inexistent).
If you have been working for many years, we recommend you restrict your work experience to that obtained within the past 7-10 years.
This applies also if you have teaching experience dating way back, as the profession has changed significantly 70s, 80s and even 90s. A hiring manager probably won’t be interested in your experiences from a time when the teaching methods were almost entirely different, to say the least.
Just as Teach Away highlights, don’t forget that you can list other related experiences as well, such as coaching experience for sports teams or language tutoring.
Sample Work Experience
Chariho Regional School District, Wood River Junction, RI
Substitute Teacher, 2018 – 2020
Substituted for an elementary school home room teacher for 9 consecutive months, and three days a week for the remaining 15 months. Taught English, history, geography, science and math.
- Created games to help all students catch up with the curriculum, and contributed to a better and more tolerant class environment.
- Chaperoned for field trips and events organized on school property.
- Mentored the little league soccer team.
- Organized an alternative to parent teacher conferences, where parents were invited to participate in a field trip with their children.
Ocean Tides School, Narragansett, RI
Physical Education/Health Teacher, 2014 – 2018
Introduced the students to physical activities, sports and a healthy lifestyle, helped students discover their potential and worked actively to prevent bullying and divisions within each class.
- Successfully changed the way students viewed P.E, and turned it into something fun rather than a chore.
- Used surrounding nature to change up the exercise routines and to show students how to exercise without access to equipment.
- Set up a fundraiser to make sure all students could attend field trips and excursions, regardless of financial family status.
- Oversaw the students academic achievements alongside teaching P.E, and incorporate subjects like geography and math.
Boerne Independent School District, Boerne, TX
Math and Reading Tutor, 2012 – 2014
Was hired by the school district to organize and attend an after-school program for children and teenagers who needed additional help with reading comprehension and math.
- Implemented learning games and activities to make studying fun and engaging also for those struggling with paying attention.
- Recognized by the school board for successfully raising participating students’ grades with 67%.
- Recognized the signs of child abuse in a student, and the report led to the child being removed from a dangerous situation.
- Wrote and created promotional material directed to parents, which led to a 48% increase in after school program sign-ups.
Substitute teacher education
As a substitute teacher, you will almost always be required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in education, to demonstrate that you are equipped to teach kids, teenagers or adults while their teacher is absent.
Additionally, some states may require a license, but this depends on where you live and it is something we will cover further down.
List any college or university degree here, even if unrelated to education, and include your GPA if it is high enough to display.
Out of the 15 sampled substitute teacher resumes, only two did not include a college degree, and each of the sampled job posts did ask for a higher education – referring to it as a requirement.
Simmons University, Boston, MA
Master of Arts, 2015 – 2017
- Children’s Literature
Westcliff University, Irvine, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Education, 2010 – 2014
- Early Childhood Education
A smart move is to list individual coursework if you do not have a relevant degree to rely on, but otherwise it probably won’t be necessary to include a course section in your substitute teacher’s resume.
You should always make sure to read the job post or work description carefully before applying, as this could give you hints as to which courses to list, if any at all.
Perhaps you have a college degree but not in the field of education, and in that case – taking additional teaching related courses could be a great way to boost your substitute teacher resume.
For example, if a position requires you to teach math and science, you could always list related courses to showcase your expertise and experience, if you have taken any.
We advise you to be extremely honest on your resume, as the truth tends to come out, and it does not look good for an educator to be lying on their resume.
- Substitute Teacher Training Course (2017)
- Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing
- The Teacher and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms
- Learning to Teach Online
One of the first things we discovered when starting our research, was how much the requirements differed depending on your home state. Some states legally require certifications and licensing, while other states require nothing more than a High School DIploma.
We turned to the National Education Association for more information, and made some surprising discoveries! In Rhode Island, for example, districts must advertise only for certified substitute teachers, but there does not seem to be a law of only being allowed to hire someone with a license.
States like Hawaii and Virginia have minor training requirements, while other states are significantly stricter. Our advice is to double check the requirements in your state before applying, and to make sure you have the right certifications and licenses.
- Illinois Substitute Teacher License
- ISTE Certification
- First Aid & CPR
Complete substitute teacher resume sample
Below is a real job posting for a substitute teacher. We will use the job descriptions and the requirements in the post to write a tailored resume.
A Bachelor’s degree is required for this position, but it does not matter what you majored in. You also need to be eligible to obtain a Washington State substitute teacher certificate once hired.
If we take a look at the essential criteria, it gives us a good idea of what kind of person they are looking for.
They want someone who is physically able to handle long hours of working on their feet, excellent teaching abilities, motivational skills and someone who can adapt their teaching to each student.
Creative substitute teacher with a positive approach to learning, where every student receives the help and guidance needed to reach their full potential. Bilingual with over 4 years of classroom experience, academic degrees in mathematics and an excellent ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar situations, with the purpose of providing quality education.
Adaptable | 4+ years of experience | Excellent time management | Passion for teaching | English & Spanish | Tech savvy | Strong classroom presence | Punctual | Problem-solver | Cooperative | Great listener
Cheney Public Schools, Cheney, WA
Substitute Teacher, 2018 – 2020
Substituted as a Spanish teacher mostly for Middle School and High School. Developed unique lesson plans, engaged the children in conversations with native speakers and sought to create awareness.
- Initiated a collaboration with a local English teaching program, where native Spanish speakers would do a language exchange with students at the school.
- Implemented a quick break half-way through each lesson, which improved comprehension among students.
- Updated the reading material in accordance with the absent teacher’s suggestions and preferences.
- Organized a Spanish speaking weekly get-together where students could practice their skills in new environments.
Bethel School District, Spanaway, WA
Substitute Teacher, 2014 – 2017
Substituted mainly for the math and science teachers throughout the employment. Planned lessons, guided students and collaborated with the absent classroom teacher and staff.
- Put together a folder for students to explain what was expected of them, and what they could expect to get out of each class.
- Invited a professional mathematician to better the class understanding for the importance of math.
- Organized weekly meetings with the absent lead teachers, to make sure they were kept up-to-date.
- Orchestrated a fire drill on behalf of the school board, which led to improvements in safety routines.
Seattle Community Colleges, Seattle, WA
Tutor, 2011 – 2014
Tutored college students in science, math, biology, chemistry and more, and provided study help and assistance to motivate students to want to work harder to achieve their goals.
- Coached one of the star football players to perform better academically, which led to the student getting to keep a football scholarship.
- Developed methods to make each tutoring session fun and entertaining for the students attending, which increased both the overall success rate and the number of students attending.
- Taught students how to better structure their work to reduce stress and pressure.
- Used charts and other creative outlets to demonstrate student progress, to motivate students who were struggling.
- Substitute Teaching Certificate (Washington)
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Master of Science in Applied Mathematics, 2016 – 2018
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, 2012 – 2016
- GPA: 4.0
- Teaching Science for High School and University
- Spanish: Advanced Communication
Substituting another teacher can be both a temporary job and a full-time career, depending on what you make of it. To be successful as a substitute teacher, there are a few things you want to take into consideration, and especially when writing your resume to apply for a new job.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of flexibility, and make sure that your resume highlights your ability to adapt to new environments and provide quality education regardless of the challenges you are faced with.
- Enthusiasm and dedication are two key features for substitute teachers, but you also need to be a good listener and to be willing to take existing lesson plans into consideration, as well as the wishes of the teacher you are substituting for.
- Educational requirements, along with certification and licensing, change depending on your state. Always do your research ahead of time when applying for a new position.
Tips from Experts
“Include your degree or degrees. A bonus tip is if you have a decent or pretty good GPA – include it on there to show that you did get the degree and you worked hard.” – Laura Evelyn Ashley, Teacher & Blogger
“Teachers are usually seen with bland resumes. However, if you sprinkle your resume with the right keywords, you can add a much needed spice to make it look more attractive.” – Marjan Glavac, Professional Educator
“The first thing that you will want to remember when you are writing your resume is to keep it simple and targeted.” – Leabecca Sahadeo, English Teacher & Professional Recruiter
Whether you are an established teacher who is looking for extra work, or someone who has made substitute teaching a career – these tips and tricks will help you improve your resume.
You can be the best substitute teacher out there, but unless your resume does you justice, and unless it highlights all your best assets, there is always that risk of you being overlooked in an increasingly competitive business.
Use your skills and your charisma to create a resume that truly represents you, both personally and professionally, to give the hiring manager or employer an idea of who they would be hiring if choosing you.