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Oct 11, 2018

The Complete Guide to becoming a substitute teacher in New Jersey

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.

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

Substitute Credential


  • 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 clearance

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


  • 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.

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: 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.

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

Here’s how you can get started today.

Call to action for user to sign up to become a Swing Sub.