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Become a substitute teacher in New Jersey: the complete guide

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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 | Arizona | Washington D.C. | Illinois

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Substitute teaching requirements in New Jersey

Criminal background check process

How to get a New Jersey substitute certification

Substitute teaching requirements in New Jersey

There’s no shortage of reasons to become a substitute teacher; with perks like a flexible work schedule and being able to give back to your community, it’s no wonder you want to get started! Before that can happen, there are just a few requirements that need to be met before you can lead a classroom:

  • Pass a background check
  • Complete a TB test
  • Get a certification (optional)
  • Work history form (if working directly with Swing)

Intrigued, but don’t know where to start? We’re here to answer your most commonly asked questions:

Criminal background check process

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 three types of applications:

  1. New applicant: if you’ve never worked for a school in New Jersey
  2. Archive applicant: if you have been fingerprinted and approved by Criminal History Review since 2003 and are changing school districts
  3. Transfer applicant: if you have been employed in a substitute position continuously by a school or vendor since the first year your criminal history approval was issued, and you can provide a Verification of Employment memo

If subbing with Swing, you’ll likely fall into the transfer applicant category. If you want to learn more about how to complete the application process, there will be specific instructions during Swing onboarding (this is where you’ll get codes for doing the new, archive, or transfer applicant process).

After completing all the necessary steps, you’ll be able to view your Applicant Approval Employment History through the Criminal History Review Unit’s website in approximately two weeks.

How do you get a New Jersey substitute certificate?

While New Jersey doesn’t require a substitute certificate for some classroom roles, obtaining one will give you access to more subbing opportunities at a higher pay rate. 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.

There are two types of substitute teaching certificates in New Jersey: Substitute Credentials and Career & Technical (CTE) Substitute Credentials. Here’s what you need to know::

Substitute Credential requirements:*

  • At least 60 semester-hour credits at a regionally accredited college or university OR you must be a student enrolled in a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum of 30 semester-hour credits
  • Criminal history background check

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. 

*[If subbing directly with Swing Education, we accept Substitute Teacher’s credentials, Standard Teaching Certificates, Certificate of Eligibility (CE), and Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS)]

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Substitute Credential** 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

A CTE Substitute can serve for up to 40 instructional days.

** Note: authorized to serve only in a CTE classroom

Your first step in getting either of these certificates is to complete a substitute credential application, which will ask for specific information, such as:

  • Personal, employment, and educational information
  • An official transcript from your college or university that shows you’ve completed at least 60 semester-hour credits (for the substitute credential)

Final steps

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, which will need to be delivered to the County Office of Education

  • 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.

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

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