BECOMING A SUBSTITUTE teacher in California has become easier and more financially lucrative in the last few years.

California school districts have struggled to find enough substitute teachers to take over classrooms for absent teachers since the COVID-19 pandemic closed school campuses. Since then many substitute teachers, who are only paid for the days they work, quit or found jobs elsewhere. Some did not want to return to a classroom during the pandemic because of health concerns.

A day-to-day substitute is a contracted worker with no guarantee of daily work. Conversely, substitutes are not required to accept every assignment for which they are called.

Because of an enduring teacher shortage, many districts reduced the number of day-to-day substitute teachers on their rosters when they hired them as teachers on emergency-style permits or as long-term substitutes. To ensure there are enough teachers in each classroom every day, administrators and other credentialed staff often have had to set aside their own work to fill in.

To encourage people to substitute teach some districts began campaigns encouraging parents to take the jobs. Many also increased the daily pay rate for substitutes.

The most common substitute permit issued in California is the Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit, which allows the holder to serve as a day-to-day substitute.

In an effort to encourage more people to substitute teach, state lawmakers approved a number of flexibilities, including temporarily extending the amount of time, from 30 to 60 days, that a substitute can teach in one assignment or classroom. The flexibility is valid until July 2023, when it will revert to the 30-day limit. The flexibility is not available in career technical education classrooms.

Legislators also passed Senate Bill 1397 that waives the need for substitutes to prove basic skills proficiency through July 1, 2024. Substitute teacher candidates usually prove basic skills proficiency by taking a test or completing specific coursework.

Requirements for a substitute teaching permit

Here are the documents that must be submitted to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for an Emergency 30-day Substitute Permit:

A few, more specialized substitute permits, have similar requirements:

  • The Emergency Substitute Permit for Prospective Teachers allows students who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program to substitute before earning a bachelor’s degree. The applicant must have completed 90 or more units of coursework, fulfilled the basic skills requirement, paid fees and had a background check.
  • The Emergency Career Substitute Permit always allows substitute teachers who have worked in a single school district for more than three years to teach for up to 60 days for any one teacher. After July 1, 2023, holders of this permit will be limited to 20 days in any one special education classroom.
  • Emergency Designated Subjects Career Technical Education Permit for 30-Day Substitute Teaching Service allows the holder to teach with a high school diploma and three years of work experience. Substitutes with this permit do not have to prove subject matter competence, but are required to submit an application and fees, and have a background check.

Credentialed retired teachers are eligible to substitute without obtaining an Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit.

Once a substitute has a permit they can apply to join a district or County Office of Education substitute pool on the EdJoin website or through the district website or human resources office.

This story originally appeared in EdSource.