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How to Write a Substitute Teacher Resume

Whether you’re an experienced teacher looking for a new job or just starting out in your career, learn to write a powerful substitute teacher resume with our expert-created substitute teacher resume examples and writing guide.

Donna Wright Profile
By Donna Wright 5 minute read

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Four keys to a top substitute teacher resume

Whether you’re applying for a short-term or long-term substitute teacher position, your professional resume should follow these four keys to writing a resume:

1

Customize your resume to the job posting

Whether you’re planning to substitute teach at a high school, middle school or elementary school, it is critical to tailor your resume to the substitute teacher resume job description stated in the job posting.  This will ensure that you mention the right keywords on your resume. Keywords to look out for include the responsibilities for the specific teaching role and skills the job calls for. Those keywords play a crucial part in whether your professional resume makes it past applicant tracking systems (ATS) that are set up by hiring managers to select only the most qualified job candidates for an open substitute teacher job. For example, if the resume substitute teacher job description requires candidates to be “experienced with using technology in a classroom environment” then be sure to highlight any educational software you’re familiar with in your resume.

2

Be specific about your classroom experiences

The goal of submitting a resume along with your substitute teacher job application and cover letter is to stand out from the competition. Most teachers will feature similar teaching skills in the summary, skills and work history sections of a resume, so dig deep and come up with your most impressive teaching achievements and highlights. Use quantifiable accomplishments such as: “Assumed responsibility for a 30-student classroom of first graders preparing for annual state testing, with the students achieving a 100% pass rate.” 

If you’re a recent graduate or just starting out in the teaching profession, highlight your best and most relevant experiences up to this point, whether it’s volunteer work at a children’s library, bible school or day care center, babysitting or experience you’ve had as a student teacher.

3

Show you have the right soft skills

While a substitute teacher will be required to bring specific hard skills to the classroom like lesson planning, discipline tools, technology and other related skills to provide effective education instruction, it’s equally important to demonstrate soft skills like strong communication, presentation, critical thinking, empathy, multitasking, organization and leadership. Your soft skills demonstrate personality traits that will convince a potential employer that you have what it takes to teach based on lesson plans, be relatable to students and adapt to leading different classrooms with short notice.

4

Highlight related qualifications

The best substitute teacher resume will impress a recruiter by meeting and sometimes exceeding required qualifications. If you’re required to have experience using a specific teaching software like Google Classroom, Edmodo or Blackboard, and you just finished a substitute role where you used that software, that could catapult you to the top of the candidate list. If a foreign language classroom is in need of a substitute teacher, your knowledge of English, Spanish, Italian and French will certainly mark you as highly qualified. While your education prepared you to teach multiple subjects, demonstrating your passion and accomplishments for a specific subject like science (i.e., “Arranged science field trips to a working medical laboratory”) while subbing for other teachers can also make a difference. Go beyond expected qualifications and establish your out-of-the-box thinking and keen awareness of up-to-date learning theory and teaching practices.

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Action words for a compelling substitute teacher resume

Action words can make your resume come to life. Use strong verbs to energize your accomplishments, skills and experience particularly in your substitute teacher resume summary and work experience sections.

Below you’ll find a list of appropriate action words to consider including on your substitute teacher resume. For additional information on how to incorporate industry-specific action verbs into your substitute teacher resume, read our action words article written by our career experts.

Action words to feature in a substitute teacher resume:

  • Taught
  • Instructed
  • Lectured
  • Supervised
  • Mentored
  • Moderated
  • Tutored
  • Trained
  • Prepared
  • Planned
  • Motivated
  • Personalized
  • Reviewed
  • Administered
  • Supported
  • Monitored
  • Organized
  • Maintained
  • Provided
  • Introduced

Example of action words in a substitute teacher resume summary:

Elementary school teacher with fifteen years of experience looking for short term or long term substitute teacher positions from pre-k through sixth grade in the Mineola school district. Proven successful teaching, mentoring and supervising up to thirty-student class sizes including lesson planning, administering tests and moderating recess.

Example of action words in substitute teacher resume work experience section:

  • Taught lesson plans and instructions as directed by the absent teacher. 
  • Supervised students in out-of-classroom activities during the school day.
  • Developed lesson plans to provide individualized instruction to meet student needs.
  • Maintained standards of student behavior to maximize functional learning in the classroom.
  • Administered math, science, social studies and grammar tests based on school standards.
  • Organized effective learning environment through displays, bulletin boards and other areas.
  • Increased student participation in school spelling and math bees.
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Choose the right format for your resume

In terms of resume format, the sections of your resume stay the same: header, resume summary or resume objective, skills, work experience and education. However, the position of those elements varies depending on your resume format. There are three different formats you can select from. These are the chronological format which emphasizes work history, the functional format which emphasizes skills and the combination format which emphasizes both.

Choosing the correct resume format for your level of substitute teaching experience provides you the best chance of showcasing your unique qualifications to a hiring manager.

Experienced substitute teachers: The chronological (also known as the reverse-chronological) resume format focuses on your work experience (in chronological order, with your current or most recent job first) as well as relevant skills.

Recent graduates or entry-level substitute teachers: The functional resume format emphasizes relevant skills instead of work history, which makes it an appropriate format for a first-time teacher.

Experienced substitute teachers with gaps in employment history and career changers: The combination/hybrid resume format emphasizes both work experience and skills, suited for experienced substitute teachers with impressive skills and work history.

Pro tip:For a full guide to picking the right format, refer to our resume formats page and then, for a fast way to create your resume in minutes, use our Resume Builder online tool for step-by-step help putting together a resume.
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20 key skills for your substitute teacher resume

Substitute teachers require many skills in order to instruct, monitor and motivate students when a regular teacher is absent. The prospective employer will be looking for specific skills on your resume that fall under the two categories: hard skills (technical skills) and soft skills (personality traits). A substitute teacher’s hard skills may be classroom management and the ability to use a white board for instruction. Soft skills would include communication and presentation skills to verbally instruct students and adaptability to jump into a variety of classrooms with little notice.

Here are 20 skills to feature in your substitute teacher resume:

Most busy hiring managers have mere minutes or less to scan through each applicant’s resume so you must make your skills section scream for attention. And remember, if you use our Resume Builder to create your resume, you’ll be provided with auto-populated skills and other job-role wording suggestions so you include just the right information.

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How to write a substitute teacher resume

While the resume format you select is based on your experience level, rest assured that all formats will include the following sections on a substitute teaching resume:

Resume header

The header is always at the top of your resume, regardless of format. This is the first thing the hiring manager sees. It should contain your full name and basic contact information including phone number and email address. You can also add links to any of your job networking profiles like LinkedIn.

Resume summary or objective

The resume summary or resume objective is in this section. A resume summary is a short, concise overview of your career background and what you can offer the school. This should be no longer than three sentences. Think of it as a tagline supporting your header, providing an overview while highlighting any specialties. A resume objective is a brief statement that communicates your career goals. If you have less experience as a substitute teacher, then this may be the better option.

Resume summary example:

Dedicated substitute teacher with 7+ years of experience, passionate about nurturing students’ interest in science while encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. Recognized as “Substitute Teacher of the Year” in 2022 by the Nassau School District, for providing immediate instruction to 14 different classrooms with positive student progress through curriculum and classroom management.

Good objective for resume example:

Passionate decade-long career as a copywriter/editor, with a recently obtained teaching degree, seeking a versatile substitute teacher position to effectively teach high school students in the areas of English, grammar, language arts and literature. Looking to contribute my presentation, creativity and adaptability skills while providing teacher substitution to the English department of Hyde Park High School while gaining hands-on experience as part of an outstanding faculty.

Resume skills section

Being a substitute teacher is a challenging role requiring a broad skill set including both hard skills and soft skills. Use your resume skills section to highlight the key substitute teacher skills that you can use in this role. Hiring managers should see exactly why you will be an asset to the school.

Consider featuring these skills on your resume:

Substitute teacher hard skills

  • Classroom management skills
  • Smart board technology like Google Classroom and Blackboard
  • Knowledge of relevant learning theory
  • Specialist knowledge like special education needs
  • Specific subject areas like social studies, math, language or sciences
  • Microsoft Office proficiency
  • Language skills such as English, Spanish, French, German or others
  • First aid/CPR

Substitute teacher soft skills

Highlight the skills that will show you have the background knowledge and personality traits to take over the classroom. Schools need to trust that they can take over without compromising teaching quality.

Resume work experience section

Remember the key of a resume is to stand out from the competition so rather than list mundane tasks in your work experience section, expand on your best work history. For each position you’ve held, including the school name, dates of employment and your job title. Use active verbs and statistics to back up your claims. For example, “Improved student test scores by 10% within six weeks,” is more effective than “Taught lesson plans.” If you are an entry-level candidate with no previous substitute teaching experience, then list roles with duties that show transferable skills. This may include tutoring, mentoring, coaching or other relatable jobs. Remember, the emphasis is on showing that you have what it takes to excel in the substitute teaching job.

Example:

Substitute Teacher |Lake Mary Middle School | Chesapeake Shores, CA | 2015 – Present

  • Teaches 12 classrooms in six different schools annually in Montfort School District.
  • Helped improve California State Testing math scores of third-grade students to 99% passing rate.
  • Successfully implements lesson plans to 15-student classrooms, each job lasting a minimum of two-week timeframe.
  • Manages classroom behavior through a variety of creative instructional, quick-thinking substitute teaching strategies through group discussions, discovery projects and outdoor lesson activities.

Education

Education and training requirements vary from state to state for substitute teachers. In this section, you must show you have the credentials to teach students in a classroom setting. This may include highlighting a teaching license in addition to your bachelor’s degree. It is your responsibility to know what is required for your state. Many resume substitute teacher job descriptions will outline what their minimum requirements are for the position.

Example:

Bachelor of Science in Education

St. Joseph’s College, Freedom, NJ | September 2018 – May 2022

Florida Teaching Certificate

Specializations: High school math and science

Pro tip:For more substitute teacher resume-writing tips from the experts at ResumeHelp, take a few moments to read our How to Make a Resume article to get the best chance at landing a job interview.

Do’s and don’ts for a substitute teacher resume

These basic guidelines can help sharpen your resume. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

Do:
  • Take care to edit and review your resume. Double-check for punctuation and spelling errors and make sure the formatting makes it easy to read.
  • Customize your resume for the specific resume substitute teacher job description. Pay attention to the requirements for the role and make sure your resume ticks the boxes that the hiring manager is looking for.
  • Show an awareness of specialist teaching knowledge. Demonstrate your teaching expertise through the terminology you use. Include anything that may set you apart - for example, if you have experience with special needs children or previously worked as a teacher assistant.
Don't:
  • Fill out your experience section with non-relevant roles. Only include what can show transferable skills and help the recruiter draw a line between your experience and the advertised substitute teacher role.
  • Falsify any licenses or qualifications. This wastes everybody’s time, and can have serious consequences if you’re exposed. Make sure you are eligible to teach before you apply.
  • Write your resume without any help. The ResumeHelp Resume Builder provides professional resume templates as well as job-specific suggestions to fill out your resume.

FAQ: Substitute teacher Resume

Have questions? We’re here to help.

The goal of your substitute teaching resume should be to impress the prospective employer enough to land a job interview. To do so, highlight your most impressive work accomplishments, hard skills and soft skills, and education degrees plus any awards, volunteer work or student teaching internships that can give you the edge over other job applicants. Tailor the job descriptions on your resume to fit the requirements of the position you are seeking. That way, your qualifications will show that you can meet the job requirements so the students and the school can benefit from your teaching experience. The substitute teacher resume samples and templates can provide you with a quick start to writing your own strong resume.

A substitute teacher resume objective should summarize your passion for teaching and career goals while making a bold statement about why you’re unique and how you stand out from other job candidates. Here is an example:

“Recent college graduate with a degree in elementary education seeking substitute teacher positions to demonstrate adaptability by stepping into short-term or long-term teaching roles. Committed to effectively teach children through detailed lesson plans while nurturing students’ growth and development in a safe environment. Through student teaching 4th grade, I’ve demonstrated my  strong work ethic, creativity, problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills. Looking to reach the goal of working for a team-oriented school where I can continually grow to improve my skills.”

As this candidate doesn’t have much experience, the resume objective gets right to the point by mentioning a college degree as well as defining the immediate aspiration for being a substitute teacher. It also mentions an alternate type of work experience by a student teaching 4th grade students. Closing with a strong goal rounds out the powerful objective statement.

When you look at a substitute teacher job description in the actual posting, you will see job requirements, role qualifications and some detailed information about the position and the educational institution. Every sentence will contain action verbs and skills in the form of keywords. It’s important that you include those same keywords in your resume and cover letter. Here are some examples of keywords that you may see in the job description of substitute teachers work:

  • Assume duties of the classroom teacher
  • Lead instruction in the classroom based on lesson plans
  • Assign homework and classroom projects and activities
  • Motivate students to learn in a positive learning environment
  • Manage classroom behavior and manage student behavior
  • Encourage classroom participation
  • Create an interesting and orderly classroom environment
  • Adapt to the various learning styles
  • Develop lesson plans
  • Administer and grade tests
  • Communicate with lead teacher, school administrators and school community

If you’re a recent college graduate, just starting your teaching career or a career changer, you can follow the functional resume format that emphasizes your education, skills, extracurricular activities or student teaching internships. Highlight all of your relevant experiences to showcase your most impressive teaching skills as they relate to the substitute teacher position that you’re applying to. For inspiration, browse at the student teacher resume samples and resume writing tips on this page that will provide you with powerful, industry-specific wording suggestions.

A good substitute teacher will seamlessly fit into the classroom in the absence of a full-time teacher. The regular teacher provides lesson plans and it is the substitute’s responsibility to implement these to ensure learning continues and students progress. Therefore, they must maintain an orderly classroom. The substitute teacher may have extra duties depending on their arrangement with the school. Refer to the substitute teacher resume description for exact requirements in the job posting that you’re applying for.

First off, always write a cover letter even if it’s not requested. A cover letter can help provide more detail and a more personal touch. Tailor your cover letter to the substitute teacher job description for resume. Your substitute teacher cover letter should include a brief introduction followed by some expansion on the main sections of your resume. Remember, it’s still just a prelude to an interview, so don’t overshare. Fore more tips, take a look at our advice for an effective cover letter.

Check out our helpful guide to writing a targeted resume. One tip is to address the keywords used in the substitute teacher description for resume; this will vary from school to school. This will help your resume pass reviews from applicant tracking systems (ATS), that hiring managers use to screen resumes. Using keywords to describe your skills and work experience will also help your resume to stand out to the hiring manager. Look at the substitute teacher resumes on this page for wording suggestions.

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Donna Wright Profile
WRITTEN BY Donna Wright

Donna is a career expert with extensive experience in the fields of Marketing, Publishing, Direct Mail and Communications. She’s witnessed firsthand the importance of a powerful resume and cover letter to a job search, so she takes great pride in helping change the lives of job seekers by sharing expert career advice and tips to help land the perfect job.

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