Should You Be A Career Occasional (Substitute) Teacher?

A career occasional (substitute) teacher (OT) is one who is not looking for permanent work and who makes a living as an occasional teacher. I am a career OT. I resigned from my permanent position with the Board of Education over 10 years ago and I have not regretted it.

You trade security for flexibility when you are a career OT. You are not guaranteed work and there is no long term disability. Therefore, this line of work is not for everyone. The main advantage is flexibility. Many people who have second jobs find being a career OT fits into their schedule very well. This is my case – I write books and speak at workshops and conferences and so I enjoy the flexibility of choosing when to work as a teacher and when to work as an educational author/speaker.

The way to make a career as an OT work is to get to know a few schools and principals very well. That way, if you would like to work, those schools will welcome you. The other thing that is needed is planning. There is no pay over the summer and there is little work in September and so it may be necessary to save or to arrange for other work during those times.

I knew there would be less work as an education speaker at the beginning of COVID, so I picked up a Long Term Occasional (LTO) job, where I was paid the same as a full time teacher. I can choose to apply only to the jobs and schools I would like. Some years, I only work 30 days as I am doing a lot of writing and speaking. Other years I work as a daily OT quite a bit. I also pick up LTOs when I know I will not be busy or when a friend asks me to cover their class while they have surgery etc. I really enjoy the flexibility and I am able to make enough money to support my lifestyle.

While a career as an OT is not for everyone, it could be the perfect fit for you.

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