So you want to be a substitute teacher?

I was challenged to get a substitute teacher’s certificate and then spend a hot summer day on the 3rd floor at a high school. That sounded like a very worthy challenge, so I started looking into what it takes to get a substitute teacher’s certificate. It quickly got rather depressing.

Summary of steps one has to take (assuming one does not have a teacher’s certificate):

  • Application for Certificate 73‐03C
  • Certificate Registration 73‐10
  • Official transcripts from college in original, unopened envelope showing Bachelor’s degree ($8)
  • $115.00 registration fee (for the Champaign-Ford ROE)
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Test 90 days or newer (have insurance?)
  • Physician’s Statement of Good Health (ditto)
  • Signed Mandated Reporter Form (no clue whatsoever)
  • Fingerprint Check through the ROE or results from another ROE ($60)

That’s it, easy-peasy, right? Shell out $183 and away you go. Oh, don’t forget you actually have to drive up to Rantoul so you can be fingerprinted at their police department – it doesn’t count if you have previously been fingerprinted anywhere else.

The $115 registration fee is $75 mandated by Illinois Public Act 097-0607 (SB SB1799) (sponsored chiefly by Senator Heather Steans), and $40 to “register the certificate for its validity” (just because, you know). I asked Senator Steans about the $75 fee; while the response was respectful and thorough, it did not help explain why the fee is good for constituents. Apparently there was a federal grant to establish a teacher database with an aim towards increasing the professionalism. Ironic, since the Federal grant directly resulted in higher fees.

As to why you have to drive to Rantoul to get fingerprinted, I was told that the ROE has registered an “ORI number” to a specific police department (namely, Rantoul). The explanation is that the ORI is like Santa, keeping a list if you have been naughty or nice and checking it twice.

Even after all of this, you still have to go through the Unit 4 screening process. Don’t get me wrong, I place a high value on the rigor of making sure that the adult standing in front of our children at school is safe and has a clean record. I am wondering if perhaps it would be cheaper and more palatable all-around to simply sponsor “teach-for-a-day” events. 🙂



5 Responses to “So you want to be a substitute teacher?”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    I asked why the fee is so high, why it is needed at all on top of all the other charges.

    From Senator Steans:

    “The $75 fee is necessary to support the entire certification system. The fees are used to provide the technology and other resources necessary for the timely and efficient processing of certification requests. Incentive funding provided in 21B-70 is for current certified teachers and school counselors – the funding for the incentive programs is not provided from the teacher certificate fee revolving fund, where the $75 fee from certificate processing is deposited.”

    So legislators get a Federal Grant to implement a shiny new database that supposedly makes this tracking “easier” and “faster”, and the cost to sustain it is passed on to … yup, you got it, the very folks at the bottom of the food chain who are trying to get low-paying jobs.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, America! How often do we solve a problem that doesn’t exist?


    By the way, all you subs and teachers, thank you SO MUCH for all your dedication, your hard work, long hours and passion. I am ashamed that we do not honor you as much as we should.

  2. Chuck Jackson Says:

    Yes, it is a hassle and it kept me out of subbing for a year AFTER I received the state sub certification. In the end a request from within a relationship moved me to leap the final hurdles.

    FYI, mandated reporter form is simply something you sign saying that you understand by being an official adult in a school you MUST report child abuse to the authorities. For completeness in my report here, I do not have insurance but the TB test and physician’s report cost $65 at some fly by night health station out by the mall – actually Christie Clinic I think.

    Finally, now that I am subbing, the inside scoop is that there are not enough subs for the district to call and so they end up farming kids out to other teachers (who, of course get compensated at a rate MUCH higher than subs do – $30/ hour as compared to something like $12.50/ hour for subs).

  3. Kurt Weil Says:

    Dear Charles Schultz.
    I would like to to pick up where you left off with this madness! In pursuit of paying for my own graduate courses needed for my permanent teaching certificate, paying the Education dept. 75,- 3 times for each one year certificate-extension they refused to allow further extensions after that. Next I get letters from 3 local school districts I have subbed for daily “We only allow certified teachers to sub in our district!” The end of my calling to be a public music teacher! No subbing work, no more paying out of my pocket for graduate courses for the necessary masters to get permanently certified.
    To explain: Although I was on almost every working local music teacher’s calling list (G.M., Orchestra, Band, Chorus) when they knew they were going to be absent to make sure I would be there for them, there is no hiring going on in all local schools, I was unable to even get a part time position in Suffolk County on Long Island N.Y. Cuts in Music and Art are everywhere! I payed 1000,- for 3 Graduate credits out of my pocket! The masters costs $30000,- to be able to sub?! Disgusting! Done!
    Kurt Weil

  4. charlesdschultz Says:


    I hear what you are saying; I will not insult you by saying I completely understand. I can’t – I have never walked in your shoes. But I hear the frustration and the angst in your words.

    Our local school district has a “Grow Your Own” program whereby the district provides support for those who wish to pursue graduate degrees and certificates. I am not intimately familiar with the program, but I believe there is monetary support as well (I just need to look it up to verify). It seems to me that this does not bridge to those who only have sub certfiicates – how does the district take a passionate person who desires to teach from square one through those first few, rough, transitional periods of subbing and schooling at the same time?

    Kurt, if you are willing to visit us again and leave another comment, I am curious what suggestions you might have to “fix” the system. What would convince you to stay, specifically?

  5. Kurt Weil Says:

    Dear Charles,
    “Grow Your Own” program whereby the district provides support to a masters? That applies to hired teachers not for substitutes trying to get a permanent position. As soon as you are hired there are possibilities, not for substitutes.
    With no chance of permanently getting hired in the near future to take out a 30000,- loan? The reason local districts only let permanently certified teachers sub here is because there are so many teachers are out of work. They get first crack.
    I hear in some schools, to save hiring substitutes they take working teacher’s preps to fill in for absent teachers!! The situation is bad here. Let me know if you find out anything about help for substitutes trying to get their masters.

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