There are two ways to be a full-time substitute teacher. Some schools or districts maintain a handful of full-time, salaried teachers who float to different classes according to need. The other way is to work as a regular substitute, and receive assignments every school day throughout the year. These two methods have similar education requirements, but different pay structures and different salaries.
Many states require a substitute teacher to have the same level of education as a regular classroom teacher. This means a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education, and often a master's degree and/or post-graduate teaching certificate. Age-specific endorsements, or qualifications to teach specific subjects, are also frequently part of the requirements. However, other states or metro areas may be suffering from a teaching shortage that means substitute teachers are not held to such rigorous qualification standards.
Building or District Sub
A full-time building or district substitute teacher is paid like any other full-time employee of the school district with those qualifications. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for elementary teachers was $51,660 in 2010. The median salary in secondary school was $53,230. Teachers with full-time assignments usually receive good benefits, including health coverage, retirement account and generous vacation.
Fully Occupied Sub
A fully occupied substitute is not a salaried employee. Instead, he gets paid a daily rate for every day he works. Districts that require substitutes to carry the same credentials usually set that rate by dividing the annual teacher salary by the number of school days in the year -- meaning a sub can make a comparable salary to a regular teacher. However, districts with looser requirements for subs often pay them much less. It's also worth noting that substitute teachers rarely receive the benefits package awarded to teachers with a full-time assignment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for teachers -- including substitute teachers -- to grow about as fast as average for the job market as a whole. One advantage a fully occupied substitute has in this area is flexibility. Where a full-time teacher needs to find a district with a full-time opening, a fully occupied sub can divide her time between several nearby school districts.