How to Become a Teacher in New Jersey
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The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) outlines a clear path to certification for teachers at all levels of the credentialing process. Aspiring New Jersey teachers must earn a bachelor's degree, meet professional experience requirements, and pass certification exams in their teaching subject and grade level.
The NJDOE awards different types of teaching certifications depending on whether a student has met the necessary requirements or is still completing a teacher-training program. Certification is also required of educational services personnel, school administrators, and career and technical educators in public schools in New Jersey.
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New Jersey is among the highest-paying states for teachers in the United States. As part of the tri-state area, New Jersey also employs one of the largest concentrations of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Learn more below about how to become a teacher in New Jersey.
How Do I Become a Teacher in New Jersey?
The NJDOE offers a variety of paths toward teaching certification in New Jersey. Teachers who meet all requirements for certification, including completing an NJDOE-approved teacher training program and passing Praxis exams, may qualify for a provisional certificate through the school that extends an offer of employment.
Students must then complete two years of teaching experience at that school within a consecutive three-year period, after which the school can recommend the candidate to the NJDOE for a standard teaching certificate.
Teachers must apply for a certificate of eligibility (CE) or certificate of eligibility with advanced standing (CEAS) to qualify for the provisional teaching process. The NJDOE also offers reciprocity to out-of-state educators who meet its certification requirements.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Candidates for teaching certification in New Jersey must first earn a bachelor's degree. Middle school, high school, and career/technical education teachers should pursue a degree, or specialization, in their desired teaching subject.
Aspiring classroom teachers must also complete a NJDOE-approved educator preparation program, including field experience. This combination of academic and career training prepares candidates to meet the core and subject-specific teaching requirements of the Praxis exams.
The minimum education requirements for certification include:
- A minimum of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, including coursework in a student's desired certification subject
- A minimum 3.0 GPA
- Completion of a professional teacher preparation program, culminating in a practicum
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Gain Student Teaching Experience
NJDOE-approved teacher training programs emphasize student teaching experience, which is a key certification requirement. Students can complete some or all of their required clinical practicum hours while earning a bachelor's degree; however, those still in the process of satisfying clinical hours may only qualify for CE certification.
Teaching certification in New Jersey requires at least 175 total field hours, including clinical experience and full-time clinical practice. Students must complete a minimum of 100 hours of clinical experience immediately preceding the remaining full-time clinical practice hours.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Aspiring teachers in New Jersey must pass Praxis exams, offered through ETS, in basic skills and subject assessments. They must also submit to a performance assessment through edTPA.
Students must register for the Praxis in their teaching subject and grade level. Praxis offers separate certification exams for some specializations including ESL and world languages.
Students may qualify to waive the Praxis Core Academic Skills Test requirement if they can provide a commissioner-approved alternative test of basic skills, or score in the top one-third percentile on the ACT, SAT, or GRE in the year the test was taken.
Apply for Certification
Candidates must apply through the Teacher Certification Information System - Online (TCIS). The application process requires students to submit certification test scores, transcripts, verification of program completion, and verification of professional experience. Teachers requesting foreign or out-of-state credentials, or a name change on their certificate, should also submit supporting documents via TCIS.
The cost to apply for initial CE or CEAS status toward provisional or standard certification in New Jersey is $170. The NJDOE takes roughly two weeks to process new certification applications.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in New Jersey?
A standard teaching certificate in New Jersey is considered permanent and does not need to be renewed; however, the NJDOE requires teachers to undergo 20 hours of professional development (PD) each year to maintain certification. As long as teachers maintain these ongoing PD requirements while employed at a public school in New Jersey, they hold both active (working in the classroom) and valid (meeting NJDOE criteria) certification status.
Career Outlook for Teachers in New Jersey
New Jersey teachers enjoy lucrative job opportunities, especially in the state's teacher shortage areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), New Jersey experienced a critical shortage of teachers in subjects including math, science, and world languages, and in specializations like special education and career and technical education, going into the 2021-2022 academic year.
Already in a high-paying geographical area, New Jersey teachers can earn more for committing to work in a high-need district, subject, or specialization. ED incentivizes these opportunities through federal TEACH grants. The NJDOE also offers similar state-funded teaching grants. Students with a master's degree in education may qualify for advanced certification and higher salaries.
New Jersey teachers earned a higher wage than the national average of $67,521 in 2020, as reported by the U.S. Census. Secondary teachers in New Jersey earned an especially high annual mean wage of nearly $79,000 in 2020, the fourth-highest-paid secondary teachers in the U.S., according to the BLS. New Jersey special educators earned more than $78,000 in 2020.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in New Jersey
Teaching in New Jersey is especially lucrative for secondary educators. These high school teachers must earn certification in a particular subject to teach grades 9-12. Subject certifications include math, science, and career and technical education, all of which are teaching shortage areas and can draw an even higher salary for teachers in New Jersey.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,870
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers work with students who have learning, physical, or intellectual disabilities. Teaching in New Jersey in this shortage area requires co-certification in teaching students with disabilities and an endorsement in a grade level from Pre-K-12. Special education teachers in New Jersey earn salaries higher than the national average at all grade levels; although secondary teachers out earn other grade levels in this specialty in this state.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $61,500
Math teachers must master concepts including algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics, and most often teach to middle or high school students. Middle school teachers must pass the certification subject test for math in grades 5-8, while high school teachers may take the general mathematics certification exam. New Jersey teachers may earn more than the national average salary (reported below) to work in this shortage area.
Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $51,500
New Jersey science teachers must pass a certification exam in a specific subject area, such as biology, earth sciences, physical science, or middle school science, for grades 5-8. Aspiring teachers may also choose to pursue certification in a related branch of science, such as chemistry or physics. While the figure below is the national average, New Jersey teachers may earn more, as science is a critical teaching shortage area in the state.
Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $47,450
Career and Technical Educator
Another critical shortage area for teaching in New Jersey, career and technical education teachers need certification in technology education, which includes training in subject areas like agricultural, energy, manufacturing, and transportation industries. Like most teachers in New Jersey, secondary educators tend to earn the highest salaries compared to other grade levels in this specialization.
Median Average Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,460
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in New Jersey
How do I get a teaching certification in New Jersey?
Candidates must earn a bachelor's degree, complete an educator preparation program, pass certification exams, and satisfy student-teaching requirements to earn teaching certification in New Jersey. Teachers can pursue a variety of paths to certification, depending on where they are in the education/training process.
The first step for aspiring teachers in New Jersey is to apply for CE if they are still in the process of completing an educator training program, or CEAS if they meet other requirements, but have not yet completed two years of classroom experience. Teachers who meet all requirements are recommended for a permanent standard teaching certificate, though alternative provisional, non-citizen, and substitute certificates also exist.
Can I teach in New Jersey without certification?
All public school teachers, administrators, and education personnel in New Jersey require certification; however, private schools do not maintain the same universal certification requirements. New Jersey teachers without certification may occasionally find employment in an alternative education facility but will not enjoy the perks of working as a certified teacher in New Jersey's public education system. Only certified teachers qualify for lucrative programs like the TEACH grant and other incentives to work in teaching shortage areas.
How long does it take to become a teacher in New Jersey?
Though certification depends on education and experience, candidates can technically start teaching professionally in 4-5 years. Graduates of a four-year bachelor's degree program and an NJDOE-approved educator training program lasting approximately 12 months qualify for a provisional certificate to start accumulating classroom teaching experience at a public school. Teachers with provisional certification need two years of experience at that school to earn a recommendation for a permanent standard certificate.
What can I do with teaching certification in New Jersey?
Candidates who hold certification can teach in public schools in New Jersey. The NJDOE awards teaching certifications to educators in a variety of subjects and specializations for grades K-12. Certified teachers can choose to provide a generalist curriculum, focus on a particular subject such as high school math, or specialize in a field like special education, technology, or ESL. Though the certification process differs, aspiring non-teaching education professionals including principals, school counselors, and administrators can also pursue certification through the NJDOE.
How do I become a substitute teacher in New Jersey?
The NJDOE awards temporary substitute certification to students with standard, partial, or unmatching teaching credentials. Substitute teaching candidates must obtain a sponsorship through their hiring school or district and apply online, verifying their certification with the NJDOE or submitting college transcripts, and passing a criminal background check. Uncertified teachers with some college experience can earn a substitute teaching certificate for up to 20 instructional days in the same classroom per school year.
In extenuating circumstances, this certificate may be extended up to 40 days. Career and technical education substitutes, and teachers with CE, CEAS, or standard certification not in their substitute teaching subject, can work for 40 days in the same classroom per school year. Teachers with certification in the subject for which they are substitutes can serve 60 days in the same classroom per year.
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