Becoming a teacher in New Jersey begins with the certification process. By following the state’s guidelines on the required education, hands-on experience, examinations, and background checks, you will have all the tools you need to successfully and confidently lead an elementary classroom.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. New Jersey requires all potential teachers to obtain a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university. You must have a 2.75 GPA and a minimum of 60 credit hours in a mix of liberal studies and teacher preparatory classes.

School work can range from basic math and biology classes to courses on teaching methodology, all of which are meant to prepare you for the lessons you will instruct and the children you will meet as a teacher.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. Before serving in any New Jersey school, new teachers (including student teachers) must go through a background check. The background check ensures that you are a qualified, safe candidate to work with children. Having a felony on your record may jeopardize your ability to receive certification or the necessary clearance to teach.

Specifically, New Jersey asks all candidates to go through the Livescan process of fingerprint background checks. The only company allowed to perform the Livescan background checks for the New Jersey Department of Education is MorphoTrust USA.

The following steps must be followed in order to schedule and perform your checks:

  1. Visit the New Jersey Department of Education’s fingerprinting site
  2. Click on “File Authorization and Make Electronic Payment for Criminal History Record Check.”
  3. Choose the first choice “New Administration Fee Request” and select the “All Positions” selection.
  4. Fill out all personal information and pay the $11 administrative fee. Print the receipt
  5. Select the “Complete and/or print your IdentoGO NJ Universal Fingerprint Form” and print the fingerprinting form.
  6. Select “Click here to schedule your fingerprinting appointment” to schedule the appointment.

The final step is to go to the selected IdentoGO/MorphoTrust USA location. Once Livescan is finished, the agency will submit your fingerprinting cards to the FBI to perform the actual background check. It should take 1-2 weeks for the results. Any issues found on the background check will be presented to the applicant.

Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. New Jersey requires future teachers to pass exams that test for competency in their subject areas. These tests, typically taken before a student begins their student teaching, make certain that you have acquired the necessary knowledge to become a successful teacher.

The Praxis II: Elementary Education:

Multiple Subjects test is the only assessment required by New Jersey’s examination policies to become an elementary teacher. This test is divided into four subtests: Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Science. All four subsets must be taken as a whole test on the first attempt; the applicant must pass all four sections to count as a pass.

Students must register to take the Praxis examination in advance via the Praxis website. The cost of the exam is $150 for the full test and $50 for each subtest. Scores will be automatically sent to the state of New Jersey.

The multiple choice exam lasts about three and a half hours and is broken up into questions about competency and teaching knowledge. For example, the test may ask questions both about the different parts of a sentence and the role of fluency in a student’s reading and writing abilities. For the math and science section, a calculator may be used.

To get a better understanding of what to expect on the Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects test, ETS (the makers of the test) have developed a website with additional information, study guides, and sample questions to help prepare before the test. Other sites like Teacherstestprep and 240tutoring also provide paid and free study resources.

Step 4 Get the required Experience. Before you can take over your own elementary classroom, you must prove that you are ready to teach by performing significant amounts of hands-on work in a supervised classroom. This pivotal experience is called student teaching. It allows future teachers to gain valuable experience teaching a real classroom while working and studying under experienced teachers.

Coming at the end of all coursework and after the Praxis II exam is passed, practicum and student teaching typically covers an equivalent of 10 credit hours or one year. An application both at the university is most likely needed before these experiences are approved. From there, a coordinator will help arrange the placement with a supervising teacher(s) or school.

Preparing for student teaching or practicum classes should be done by taking advantage of observation hours, finding mentor teachers, or participating in outside seminars and experience classes. A prepared student teacher also practices being a professional at all times by wearing appropriate clothing, getting to work on time, and by developing a positive relationship with their cooperating teacher.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. Once student teaching has been completed and the final bachelors degree has been awarded, you are now ready to apply for your New Jersey teachers license. The license can be applied online through the New Jersey Teacher Certification Information System. On that site, you will be prompted to pay the $190 fee via credit card.

After you have applied online, you must return several forms to the Department of Education to complete your education.

  • Notarized “Oath of Allegiance/Verification of Accuracy”
  • “Verification of Completion 45 Hours of Study in Language Arts/ Literacy and 45 Hours of Study in Mathematics for Teacher of Elementary School in Grades K-5” (Signed by college or university official)
  • “Verification of Requirement Completion for an Introduction to the Teaching Profession: A 24 Hour Pre-Service Program” (Signed by college or university official)
  • Sealed official transcript with degree conferred date and final GPA

All paper items should be sent to:

New Jersey State Department of Education
Office of Certification and Induction
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500
Attention: Judith A. Cifone

The application review process can take between 4-8 weeks depending on when the materials were sent in.