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How to Become a Substitute Teacher in California

The state of California requires that prospective substitute teachers submit the same application materials as those applying for their initial teaching credentials. California has several route options for those looking to obtain a substitute teaching permit, depending on individual circumstances and/or types of teaching credentials.

Referred to as “Emergency Teaching Permits,” these credentials allow individuals to serve as day-to-day substitute teachers, within any classroom, grades K-2. These permits are valid for one year. Substitute teachers may not serve for any one teacher for more than 30 days during the school year. Special education substitute teachers may not serve for any one teacher for more than 20 days during the school year.

The state of California offers the following substitute teaching permits:

  • Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit
  • Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers
  • Emergency Career Substitute Teaching Permit

Information on traditional and alternative routes to becoming a teacher in California can be found here.


The 8-week Harvard Bok Teaching Certificate online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.

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