Are Substitute Teacher Salary Ranges Increasing?

Brandi Glass
September 29, 20225 min read
Teacher holding globe in front of class

Substitute teachers play a vital role in ensuring children’s education remains uninterrupted. Labor shortages and the global lockdowns of the early 2020s underscored their importance. Despite that, substitute teacher salary ranges haven’t always accurately reflected the value of the role.

Fortunately, average substitute teacher salary ranges are rising. Keep reading to discover what you can expect to earn, how much substitute teacher salaries are rising by and if you’re entitled to benefits or unemployment. We’ll also explore whether you can negotiate your substitute teacher salary.

What is the Average Substitute Teacher Salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average substitute teacher salary in 2021 was $18.47 an hour or $38,410 a year.

This is the median salary, so not all substitute teachers will earn this rate. On the lower end, 10% of substitute teachers’ annual wages were under $22,270 a year. On the higher end, 10% of salaries were over $50,560. Why Do Average Substitute Teacher Salaries Vary? Numerous factors will affect a substitute teacher’s salary, including hours worked, teaching qualifications, years of experience, location and school type.

Elementary and secondary schools are the biggest employers of substitute teachers. The annual salary in these schools was $38,680. In contrast, substitute teachers in colleges, universities and professional schools earned $55,870 a year. And in child day care, average substitute teacher salaries were as low as $28,360.

After school type, location has the biggest impact on how much you can expect to earn as a substitute teacher. This is due to states paying different rates, as well as varying levels of demand for substitute teachers.

For example, in Prescott, Arizona, the average substitute teacher salary was $64,310 a year. This means the majority of teachers here were in the country’s top decile. Meanwhile, in some areas of rural Texas, the average substitute teacher salary fell below $24,000. In other words, almost half of substitute teachers in this area were in the country’s bottom decile.

There is, however, good news, even for teachers in rural Texas. Substitute teacher salaries are on the rise across most of the US.

The Substitute Teacher Salary in 2022: Is It Increasing?

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), average substitute teacher salaries are increasing. Their analysis showed that salaries rose by almost 20% from September 2021 to the early months of 2022.

This isn’t a new trend: substitute teacher salaries have been increasing year-on-year for a while. In 2019, the BLS reported that they averaged just $13.84 an hour (adding up to $28,790 a year). Since they stood at $18.47 in 2021, this means they increased by $4.63, or roughly one third, in only two years.

However, the NCTQ’s data points to an impressively rapid rise over a short period of time. What’s more, some states had astronomically high salary increases. In Oklahoma City, pay rose by 73%. In Tulsa, it increased by 50%.

This isn’t just a case of a few states skewing nationwide data, either: over half of the states analyzed by the NCTQ increased substitute teacher salaries.

Can You Negotiate a Higher Substitute Teacher Salary?

If you’ve not received a recent pay rise, or your salary is still below average for substitute teachers, then now could be an excellent time to attempt to negotiate a higher rate (or even look elsewhere for work as a teacher).

Unfortunately, most schools and agencies in the US do not allow individual substitute teachers to negotiate their salaries, as they work with set rates and pay lanes. If you’re working in one of these schools, you will likely need to work within a union to improve all substitute teacher salaries.

However, other schools and agencies will be open to negotiating directly with substitute teachers. What’s more, you may find there are other substitute teacher agencies in your state that offer better rates or are more open to negotiating, especially if they work primarily with private or charter schools.

Negotiating higher salaries or leaving for a better-paying agency can be intimidating, but the effort will pay off. Not only will you boost your earnings this year, but future pay rises are also likely to be higher. This is because salary increases normally take into account your current rate.

Do Substitute Teachers Receive Benefits and Unemployment?

Benefits can make up for lower pay rates, while unemployment can help substitute teachers’ pay last longer during summers and quiet periods. But do substitute teachers receive benefits or unemployment?

Unfortunately, there is no nationwide consensus on this. In some states, you will be able to draw a pension. In others, particularly states with substitute teacher unions, you might also have sick days, health insurance and the right to legal counsel. Meanwhile, some states do not offer substitute teachers any benefits or retirement packages.

If you work with private schools, you are more likely to be able to draw social security. However, this is not guaranteed.

As for unemployment, this will again depend on your state’s regulations. Substitute teachers typically have several quiet periods throughout the year, especially during school holidays, midterms, finals and the start and end of the academic semester. As such, working in a state where you can draw unemployment can significantly increase your annual income.

Hone Your Resume and Earn a Higher Substitute Teacher Salary

After receiving your initial job offer, you might have thought that your resume had served its purpose. However, agencies are still likely to return to your resume during salary negotiations and contract extensions to remind themselves of your experience, qualifications and background. Plus, if you decide to leave for a different agency paying higher rates, your resume is what will convince them to take you on.

Your resume needs to underscore your expertise and skill sets, from the types of schools you’ve worked into your qualifications and years of experience as a substitute teacher. It also needs to be in a format that’s reader-friendly, for machines and humans alike.

Our professional substitute teacher resume templates will enable you to demonstrate your value to schools and agencies. Each one is machine-readable with a professional layout, and will help you avoid the most common resume mistakes.

What’s more, our resume builder will suggest the ideal resume structure for your experience level and background, along with recruiter-approved phrasing for substitute teacher skill sets.

Build your resume today so you can negotiate for the best possible substitute teacher salary.