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Are You Required To Have A Substitute Teacher Certification In Texas?

Becoming A Teacher

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on May 28, 2020

No, it is not required for substitute teachers to hold a certificate in order to teach in the classroom.

The Texas Education Agency instead leaves it up to individual school districts or education service centers to decide the requirements or qualifications for the hiring of substitute teachers.

Below we’ll explore some of the most frequent requirements to become a substitute teacher in Texas, as well as how you can become certified to teach on a full-time basis as you substitute teach. 


Substitute Teaching Requirements


While requirements vary among school districts for substitute teachers, there are a handful of qualifications commonly seenare you required to have a substitute teacher certification in Texas across the state.



Most districts require a baseline level of education. While one district may require a minimum of an associate’s degree, another may require a bachelor’s degree. 

Some may only require a certain number of college credit hours. For example, in the Houston Independent School District and the Dallas Independent School District, substitute teachers (also known as associate teachers in Houston) must have completed at least 60 college credit hours.

As part of the application process, many districts will require official transcripts from the applicant’s college or university. A minimum grade point average may be required as well for a credit hour to count.



The hiring of a substitute teacher is often contingent on the passing of a training or orientation program. 

In the Lubbock Independent School District, prospective substitute teachers must complete online substitute training modules. The Amarillo Independent School District, on the other hand, simply requires the review of a substitute orientation information sheet.

Some districts may have an in-person training course set up. For example, the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio requires the completion of a training course if the applicant does not have any teaching experience. 

Some school districts provide additional training for substitute teachers who wish to teach in special education classrooms, such as the Northside ISD. The district offers additional daily pay for professional substitutes who take a two-part special education training course and are available to work in specialized instruction classrooms.


Background Check


Perhaps the most common requirement among school districts in Texas is the requirement of a criminal history background check. This check often includes a fingerprinting process. 

You will likely not have to complete this process completely on your own. Once you apply, a school district will refer you to the appropriate location to complete this process, which may be at an outside agency, police facility or at the district’s central education office. 

You may also need to complete a medical examination or be required to have received certain vaccinations.


Letters Of Recommendation


Lastly, as part of the application process to become a substitute teacher, you may be required to submit letters of recommendation. While there is an across-the-board need for substitute teachers, submitting a letter of recommendation even when not required can help you land a coveted spot in a high-paying school district.

Letters should include any relevant experience you have, as well as your strengths and capabilities. 

Becoming Certified While Substitute Teaching


Alternative teacher certification programs offer a great opportunity for those who are working full-time or part-time and are you required to have a substitute teacher certification in Texaswant to coordinate their class schedules around their work schedules.

If you are considering applying to become a substitute teacher, this is a great way to get experience in the classroom while enjoying the flexibility that alternative Texas teacher certification programs offer. 

Nearly 49% of all new teachers are prepared through alternative certification programs, many of which have online training components that allow you to complete your coursework on your own time. 

In addition to this flexibility, other benefits include:

  • Better course availability, since you may live in one part of the state and take a course being offered online in another part of the state.
  • Continuous support, since the best programs offer not only trainer advisers but in-field advisers who are accessible to you throughout the school year once you are teaching in a classroom.
  • An extensive network, since the best programs have built relationships with school districts in Texas and may be among the first to know about any openings.

Even if you do not have a bachelor’s degree, an alternative teacher certification program can get you certified to teach in Texas if you have experience in the fields of Criminal Justice, Automotive, Cosmetology or Culinary Arts. 

You can read more about this opportunity in our article, How To Become A Teacher In Texas Without A Degree.

Changing Career Goals


If you are considering becoming a substitute teacher, your career goals are likely changing. 

While substitute teaching is a great way to get experience in front of a classroom and allows you to have flexibility in your work schedule, if your goal is to ultimately teach full-time, you must get certified in Texas. 

A high-quality alternative teacher certification program can help you reach your goals and provide a path to teaching on a full-time basis. 


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Topics: Becoming A Teacher

Written by Micah Fikes

Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank. In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.