How to Become a Teacher in New Jersey
If you’re considering becoming a teacher in New Jersey, you won’t be disappointed. New Jersey ranks among the highest in the country in public education, leading in academic scores, student support, and school quality and investment. New Jersey taxpayers spend just shy of 5% of their annual dollars on funding public schools, and the state has one of the highest per-pupil expenditures in the country at $16,543 per student. What’s more, those dollars are more evenly distributed among wealthy and poor districts, creating a more equitable learning experience for everyone.
New Jersey teachers indeed are well compensated. Elementary, middle school, and secondary teachers in New Jersey make a median average salary of $69,917, which is almost $10,000 higher than the national average, according to the National Center for Education estimate for the 2017–2018 school year.
Traditional Teaching Routes in New Jersey
As with most states in the United States, to become a teacher in New Jersey you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program, pass qualifying exams, and apply for certification.
There are three kinds of certificates NJ teachers will earn throughout their career: an initial certificate for those in the process of becoming a teacher to qualify to apply for teaching jobs in NJ, a 2-year provisional certificate for newly employed teachers who have completed all initial requirements, and a lifetime standard certificate issued to teachers with three or more years of credentialed, full-time teaching experience.
Those on the traditional path to teaching in NJ will be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) and start work in a school. To get there, there are a few requirements you’ll face:
Before enrolling in an education preparation program:
- Pass the Praxis basic skills exam
- Demonstrate that SAT, ACT, or GRE test scores or at or above the designated cut score for the year the test was taken
After enrolling in an education preparation program:
- Complete a CEAS approved (Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing) educator preparation program with an average GPA of 3.0 or higher. The degree you choose to complete will vary based on what grade you want to teach, and the level of training you hope to achieve. Many schools offer both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for prospective teachers.
- Complete the required classroom training with a qualified partner
- Complete the Praxis subject assessment in your subject area
- Pass the edTPA performance assessment, which is a final portfolio of work that documents cumulative teaching materials and demonstrates a teacher’s ability to effectively teach all students in their subject.
Once you’ve completed the above requirements, prospective teachers can apply for a new state certificate through the Teachers Certificate Information System. You’ll be required to include test scores, transcripts, an Oath of Allegiance, and a $170 application fee. You’ll also need to complete a background or criminal history check before applying for jobs.
Alternative Teacher Routes in New Jersey
There are many non-traditional pathways available for those who already have a bachelor’s or advanced degree in their field, or for teachers who move from out of state and want to become a teacher in New Jersey. The state offers a unique approach to alternative certification that has proved successful in encouraging people to make a career transition and making the transition easier.
To earn a provisional certificate, you’ll need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE). Eligibility varies by both the grade level and subject you’re seeking to teach, but most middle and secondary subjects require an endorsement or other instructional certificate before prospective teachers can apply for the CE. Many of the subject-specific routes to certification include the same requirements as the traditional route, including:
- Passing the basic and subject-specific Praxis exams
- Completing college-level subject preparation and training time, with a minimum number of credits required
- Completing a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university
- Submitting an application through the Teachers Certificate Information System
Once you’re approved for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE), you can begin working in a school, but will need to enroll in a Provisional Teacher Program (PTP) that prepares you for provisional certification over the course of two years. Teachers in a PTP program must meet mentoring and evaluation requirements to be issued a standard teaching certificate.
How Much do Education Programs in New Jersey Cost?
Before applying for programs, it’s a good idea to consider what kind of educator preparation program will best suit your individual pathway to a career in teaching. When reviewing CEAS approved programs in New Jersey, you can expect the net cost of the program to range from $11,000–$20,000 at a public institution and $20,000–$30,000 at a private institution for a bachelor’s degree. Earning a master’s degree will likely cost an additional $15,000–$35,000.
Some schools, like Monmouth University, offer undergraduate/master’s combined 5-year programs for would-be teachers that may help offset costs and provide a better option for obtaining an advanced degree in education.
Tuition Assistance, Scholarships, and Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers in New Jersey
There are several resources that can help reduce the stress that comes with paying for a degree in education. Most students are eligible for federal Stafford or Perkins loans or grants and should apply using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
As a New Jersey teacher, you may also qualify for federal incentive programs like the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, or the TEACH Grant, which provides an annual grant of up to $4,000 for teachers in high-need schools.
There are also several scholarships for teaching students designed to help you pay for your education, offered both nationally and locally. In New Jersey, you can find scholarships offered by local organizations and schools that are specific to prospective teachers, including:
- Seton Hall University: The College of Education offers several scholarships to incoming undergraduates.
- The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship: This fellowship of up to $30,000 supports STEM students pursuing a master’s degree who have an interest in teaching in high-need schools.
- Kean University Foundation: This foundation offers scholarships to a range of prospective and enrolled students pursuing a degree in the school’s College of Education.
- American Montessori Society: Each year, the AMS awards scholarships to aspiring Montessori teachers with amounts of $2,000 and up.
Career Outlook for Educators in New Jersey
Opportunities for teachers in New Jersey are on the rise, albeit at a slightly slower rate than the national average. Teaching jobs are expected to grow by 2% in the coming years, with 3,330 new job openings for elementary teachers, 1,930 new jobs for middle school teachers, and 2,250 new jobs anticipated for secondary or high school teachers.
|2018 Median Annual Teaching Salaries in New Jersey|
|Middle school: $72,290|
Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
*Average of all individual post-secondary teaching salaries provided by BLS.
Looking for additional resources as you navigate the path to becoming a teacher in New Jersey? Here is a list of government resources and local teachers’ associations specific to New Jersey to get you started.
- Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CEAP)
- New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
- New Jersey Department of Education
- New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NJACTE)
- New Jersey Association of Kindergarten Teachers (NJAK)
- Association of American Educators – New Jersey
- New Jersey Charter Schools Association
- Newark Teachers’ Association (NTA)
- American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ)
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