Career Advice

How to Become a Substitute Teacher

Have you been thinking of making a career change or going back to school? Are you unsure if you have enough credits to embark on a new path? Have you ever considered becoming a substitute teacher? The good news is that any career path can be acceptable when applying for a substitute teacher certification. Before we delve into further details, let's define what a substitute teacher is according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

A substitute teacher is someone assigned to fill an unfilled position. This could be due to retirement, resignation, permanent departure, or a temporary leave of absence. The main requirement is to have at least 60 college credit hours. However, qualifications and compensations may vary depending on the state and district. In New Jersey, there is currently a teacher shortage, making substitutes highly sought after.

One thing to note is that there is a significant amount of paperwork involved, which needs to be submitted to the County Office of Education. To learn more, visit the Certification and Induction section on the NJ Department of Education website. It's important to know that even if you didn't study education in college, any career path can still work well in the field of education.

When applying for certification, ensure that you have your sealed college transcripts ready, as education officials need to review your credits. The first step is to fill out the Substitute Credential Application, providing your personal information such as name, address, and work/school history. You must also undergo fingerprinting for a criminal history background check. The fee for fingerprinting is $11.

For those getting fingerprinted for the first time in New Jersey, the fee is $67.45. After paying the fee, visit the IdentoGO form on the New Jersey Universal Fingerprint Form. When you go to get fingerprinted, remember to bring a valid ID (passport) and the IdentoGO form. You will also need to complete an Oath of Allegiance form, which can be notarized at a post office, law office, or pharmacy.

Regarding your college transcripts, request your college to mail them to you. Once you receive them, do not open them, as the County Office won't accept opened transcripts. Substitute certificates need to be renewed every 3-5 years, and there is a $125 Certificate Fee payable by Check or Money Order to The Commissioner of Education. When sending your paperwork to the Commissioner of Education, make sure to include not only the certificate fee but also the notarized Oath of Allegiance form, a criminal history status check, substitute credential application, and sealed transcripts. You can find these requirements on the following websites: Guide for Substitute Teacher Certification and Employment in New Jersey ( and Certification & Induction – Substitute Credentials (

After sending all the necessary documents, be aware that it may take some time (weeks or even a month) to receive confirmation that your paperwork is valid. Once approved, you will be provided with a website, username, and password to access the district portal and view a list of schools where substitutes are needed. It can be an exciting experience to enter a classroom and read the lesson plans.

If you follow the process diligently, there is a possibility of being offered a long-term substitute position. Once you have your substitute license, you can upload your resume for free on our website, where employers are always seeking outstanding candidates like you.

For more K-12 job opportunities in New Jersey, create a free account on K12JobsNJ. Explore the career advice section for valuable tips on enhancing your resume, crafting compelling cover letters, and honing your interview skills. Sign up now to receive job alerts via text message, ensuring you stay informed about the latest opportunities.