The Complete Guide to Becoming a Substitute Teacher in New Jersey

Alex MurilloRecruitment18 Comments

Substitute teaching is a rewarding and flexible way to develop your career on your terms. Whether you have recently earned your degree, are reentering the workforce after some time off, or are ready for a change from a decades-long career, exploring substitute teacher jobs in New Jersey may be a natural next step for you!

In this complete guide to becoming a substitute teacher in New Jersey, you’ll find information on subbing requirements and how to get started in classrooms near you.  

MORE GUIDES TO BECOMING A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER: New York | Texas | California ArizonaWashington D.C.

How do you get a New Jersey substitute certificate?

If you don’t already have an educator credential in New Jersey (as a teacher, administrator, or in educational services), you can apply for a substitute-specific credential.

One of the first things you’ll want to know is that Swing Education serves as sponsor organization, which will help you get on your way faster to substitute teaching in New Jersey!

Now, there two types of substitute teaching certificates in New Jersey. Let’s lay out what they are and how to get them.

Substitute Credential

Requirements:

  • At least 60 semester hour credits at a regionally accredited college or university
  • Criminal history background clearance

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Substitute Credential (Authorized to serve only in a CTE classroom)

Requirements:

  • Two years of full-time work experience in the past five years in a related field
  • Criminal history background clearance
  • A signed letter from a current or former employer documenting work experience

Your first step in getting either of these certificates is to complete a substitute credential application. Here’s what you need for the application:

  • The application will ask you to provide personal, employment, and educational information.
  • You’ll also provide an official transcript from your college or university that shows you’ve completed at least 60 semester-hour credits (for the substitute credential).

Note: Within both standard and CTE substitute positions, there are different time limits for how long you can work in a district. A standard substitute can serve for no more than 20 instructional days in the same class unless approved by the Executive County Superintendent. In that case, a 20-day extension may be approved. A CTE Substitute can serve for up to 40 instructional days. Here’s a full guide of service day limits by credentials.

How do you go through a criminal background check?

As a part of your permit application, you’ll need to go through a criminal background check. Out of consideration for student safety, this applies to all teachers in public schools, private schools for students with disabilities, charter schools, and nonpublic schools.

To complete the check, the State of New Jersey’s Criminal History Review Unit (CHRU) works with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The process includes investigating criminal history and any previous complaints from school districts.

You’ll need to start your criminal history clearance by seeking a sponsor organization, such as Swing Education.

Depending on your history of employment in New Jersey, you may qualify for one of two types of applications: a new applicant or an archive applicant.

1. If you’ve never worked for a school in New Jersey, you’re a new applicant. Your application will require a few steps:

  • First, you’ll check your eligibility by going through an online system. This process requires entering:
    • Your social security number
    • Your personal contact information
    • A few physical details
    • Information about the district and school where you’ll be teaching
  • Next, you’ll pay a $10 Criminal History Review Processing Fee. There’s also a $1 convenience fee.*
  • Then, you’ll complete and/or print the IdentoGo NJ Universal Fingerprint Form. Fingerprinting costs $67.45 for those who have never been fingerprinted in the state of New Jersey.*
  • Finally, you’ll Schedule a fingerprinting appointment with MorphoTrust. Be sure to bring a photo ID to your appointment.

In approximately two weeks, you’ll be able to view your Applicant Approval Employment History through the Criminal History Review Unit’s website.

*Note: Swing reimburses all its subs for all costs associated with getting permitted, background checks, and fingerprinting.

2. If you have been fingerprinted and approved by Criminal History Review since 2003 and are changing school districts, you’re an archive applicant.

  • First, access the Criminal History Review Archive and select the second option: “Archive Application Request.”
    • Enter your social security number
    • Select and complete the “Applicant Authorization and Certification” form with information about the district and school where you’ll be teaching
  • Next, you’ll pay a $27.50 Archive Processing Fee. There’s also a $1 convenience fee.*

In approximately two weeks, you’ll be able to view your Applicant Approval Employment History through the Criminal History Review Unit’s website.

*Note: Swing reimburses all its subs for all costs associated with getting permitted, background checks, and fingerprinting. (We also help New Jersey schools with “Pass the Trash” compliance.)

Once you’ve gone through submitting all your forms for the Criminal History Review, it’s time to gather and prepare all of your documents. These will need to be delivered to the County Office of Education. (This office is a great resource for substitute teachers in New Jersey!):

  • Your substitute credential application.
  • A notarized oath of allegiance form. This form has questions regarding your criminal history and any prior misconduct as a teacher. Be thorough — it’s best to disclose anything you think might be a flag, even if it seems minor to you.
  • Sealed college transcripts proving at least 60 hours of college credit (substitute credential) OR signed letter from employer documenting work experience (CTE substitute credential).
  • Your approved criminal history status check.
  • A $125 check made out to the Commissioner of Education. (Swing will reimburse this cost as well.)

Complete these steps, and you’ll be in the classroom in no time!

Here’s how you can get started today.

About the Author

As the Director of Talent at Swing Education, Alex works to give our substitute teachers the tools and support they need to succeed. Before joining Swing, Alex spent more than five years working for a nationwide network of high-performing elementary schools.

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18 Comments on “The Complete Guide to Becoming a Substitute Teacher in New Jersey”

  1. I have been a part time classroom aid for 3 years. I have 1 year of college from 1988. Is there any way I can obtain a substitute certificate?

    1. Hi Cathy,

      To receive a New Jersey substitute credential, you will need 60 college credits, so it’s a bit tough for me to answer your question without knowing the specific number of credit hours you have earned. Here’s more information on the credentialing process: https://nj.gov/education/license/sub/process.htm

      I hope that helps — let me know if I can answer any other questions.

      Best,
      Andy (Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager)

  2. I have a BA and am looking to apply for substitute certification in NJ. I read all the requirements and just want to make sure I have everything I need. A friend recently told meshe needed a letter from a school principal? This was for NJ.

    Just to be clear…all I need is my college transcript, notarized oath, background check, fingerprinting and application?

    Also I signed up with swing but it was full to capacity. Any idea when more space may open up to be sponsored by Swing?

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Robert,

      It looks like you should have what you need for the certification process — you should not need a letter from a school principal to earn your NJ subbing certificate. Here is more information on requirements: https://nj.gov/education/license/sub/process.htm

      As far as subbing with Swing, I’d recommend contacting our New Jersey team (talentNJ@swingeducation.com) directly (please include the region in NJ where you would like to sub and use the same email address that you signed up with), and they’ll be able to provide next steps.

      Best,
      Andy (Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager)

  3. Hi, Swing’s support has been terrific in navigating through the substitute teacher certification process in NJ. I’ve scheduled my fingerprinting for this coming Friday and will work on the other forms. I called my county superintendent of schools and I’m a bit confused. They told me all my documents have to be sent to Swing which will then forward the documents to them for processing. The NJDOE website and your information says it all goes to them! Thanks for any clarification you can provide! Dave Transue

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your note. I ran your question by our New Jersey team, and they confirmed to me that all of your information should be sent to the county office, not to Swing. Here’s the link to NJ county offices: https://nj.gov/education/counties/

      As far as next steps, we’d recommend contacting the appropriate county office and letting them know that we (Swing) haven’t received your information and double checking on guidance for what to do next. Also feel free to reach out to our New Jersey team directly (talentnj@swingeducation.com), and they’ll be able to assist/answer any further questions.

      Best,
      Andy (Swing Education Content and Community Marketing Manager)

  4. I have a NJ school counselor certificate. Do I need to apply for a substitute certificate in order to sub?

    1. Hi Bryan,

      To help me better answer your question, can you let me know what county you’d be looking to sub in?

      Best,
      Andy from Swing

  5. Hello,
    I have a Certificate of Eligibility in Comprehensive Business. Do I still need a substitute certificate to apply?
    Thanks
    Anne

    1. Hi Anne,

      Can you provide the county you’re looking to apply to sub in? That will help me address your question.

      Best,
      Andy from Swing

  6. Hi,

    I have a Certificate of Eligibility to teach Social Studies and also a Ph.D. in Geography. Do I still need a Substitute Certificate to
    apply? I live in NJ and would like to teach in Middlesex County or Mercer County.

    Thanks,
    Deborah

  7. Milagros

    Hello

    I have a Bachelor degree in Math teacher from my country Venezuela 121 credits and a Master degree in Education from Denver U.S.A 54 credits, Is it okay to apply for Substitute Teacher ?

  8. Hi,
    Can you please confirm me the process for the foreign degree, I did Masters in Economics from Pakistan and need to get the Substitute Credential certificate. Do I need to complete any 60 credit hours here in US as well to apply for substitute teacher?
    If yes then where should I go to get the 60 credit hours?

    Other than finger prints and criminal background check what else is required.

    Highly Appreciate your help! Thank you!

    1. Hi Isbah,

      You’ll want to get a foreign transcript evaluation. Here’s more information via the New Jersey Department of Education website on certification:

      Transcript Evaluation

      Obtain a transcript evaluation. The NJ Department Of Education is not authorized to determine the equivalent of studies completed in other countries for education in the United States. Applicants should therefore consult a credential evaluation service by searching the yellow pages or internet. These agencies charge various fees for the credentials evaluation.

      Applicants choosing to consult a credentials evaluation service should request the following:

      The equivalent of studies to a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited four-year college program;
      The semester-hour equivalent of each area of college-level study. Please request the two-part evaluation that includes a course-by-course listing;
      The cumulative baccalaureate grade point average for teacher certification applicants.

      I hope that helps — let us know if you have any further questions.

      Best,
      Andy from Swing

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