Teaching English Language Arts in New Jersey can be a rewarding and challenging career. You are rewarded when you realize that you have helped a student acquire the skills needed to be successful in school by learning how to read and write well. This creates a solid foundation for learning in all subjects.
While the rewards are great, challenges also exist. These include maintaining a high standard of learning and keeping current on all the changes taking place in education. You also will need to learn ways to meet the needs of a variety of student’s learning styles, while maintaining high expectations in student output. To start the process obtaining a teaching license in New Jersey, you can follow the general guidelines below:
|Complete Your Education|
|Pass Teaching Exams|
|Apply for a Teaching License|
Step 1. Complete Your Education
The first step in teacher preparation is completion of an accredited teacher degree and preparation program. The basic requirement includes an undergraduate degree that has teaching program attached. You will also discover that there are several master’s degree programs that prepare you for teaching as well. This may be a great time to consider how much time you would like to invest in your education and what the benefits are for a higher degree.
No matter which program you choose, you will need to graduate with a higher GPA than in the past. Starting in September 2016, you will need graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (up from 2.75) to qualify for the teaching program and certification.
An undergraduate degree will consist of 128-plus units of general education, core subject courses, electives, and teacher training units. The master’s degree will add an additional 30-40 units and will have a master’s thesis at the end of the program.
Alternative Route to Teaching in New Jersey
If you already hold a degree, you may have the option to complete a 200-hour instruction program for teacher training at a state approved regional training center. You may also pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Program.
Step 2. Pass Teaching Exams
All teacher candidates will need to take and pass a series of tests proving basic skills in core areas. You may also show basic skill proficiency by having a score of 1660 or higher on your SAT test, a 23 or greater on your ACT, or at minimum of a 4 on the analytical writing section of the Graduate Record Exam as well as a combined score of 310 on the overall test. Along with the basic skills test, you will test in subject area proficiency as well. This second test(s) will include grade-level proficiency.
When you apply for your teaching program, you may discuss your testing needs with your counselor. He or she will be able to assist you in determining which tests will be appropriate for you and whether or not you qualify for basic skills exemption.
When you are ready to take your tests, follow these basic steps:
- Create a Praxis account online
- Determine which tests you need to take
- Sign up for a testing date
- Pay the appropriate fees
- Download any accompanying testing material study guides available on the Praxis website
- Study for your tests
- Take your ID with you to the testing center on your test day
Step 3. Apply for a Teaching License
Once you are ready to apply for your first New Jersey teaching certificate you can accomplish most of it online. You will need to create a username and password the first time you login.
Below is a basic checklist that will help you prepare for the application process and gather all the supporting documents that you will need in order to apply:
- Pay the fee online with a credit card.
- Complete the Verification of Program Completion
- Submit a letter (must be on school district letterhead) from your school district official that shows your teaching experience. The letter will need to show how many hours you worked, what your assignment was, and the dates you were employed.
- Submit a full set of college transcripts including your GPA. These must be original. No copies are accepted.
- Send in a signed and notarized “Oath of Allegiance/Verification of Accuracy Statement.” This is a statement that verifies that you will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of New Jersey State.
- Take and pass a test in physiology and hygiene. This test will include training on the effects of drugs and alcohol. The test is given at the county offices of education. If you have basic military training or took college courses in biology, health and/or nutrition, this requirement may be satisfied without testing.
- Take and pass the Praxis exams.
If you have completed all the above steps, you should be awarded the Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS). Once you have been teaching for two years in a public school, you may upgrade your CEAS to a Provisional license.
The Provisional License certificate is requested by your employer after you obtain your CEAS and have a full-time teaching position. The Provisional License is the standard permanent license for teachers in New Jersey and is renewable every five years.
Step 4. Continuing Education
The New Jersey Administrative Code requires teachers to complete 100 hours of continuing education every five years of their licensing. This professional development helps teachers to gain the knowledge and skills required to comply with New Jersey State’s Core Curriculum Content Standards.
Many of the school districts in New Jersey provide in-service and tuition reimbursement for teachers if a cost is incurred. It is assumed that each school district will provide continuing education opportunities at local schools. The hours that you spend participating in these programs will also be considered (based on your district’s policies and any negotiated contract provisions) and may be comped as well.
New Jersey English Teacher Salaries
Not every school is the same, but there is a trend in New Jersey schools to pay salaries in the range of mid $40,000 to $50,000. Every district will contract with their teachers and offer a varied step in pay over the life of their career. The salary will typically follow a pattern of longevity plus training. The training may constitute earning a higher degree, or it may also happen by adding more college units to the existing degree.
Most teachers find that training in professional development can be accomplished by taking on college courses that will satisfy these units and will also count towards a higher salary. For instance, in the Chathams School District an English teacher that started teaching with the requisite bachelor’s would earn $55,300. If that same teacher continued on to a master’s he would earn $58,350. If he wanted to continue earning credits after that—and added an additional 30 college units—his salary would increase to $60,500.
Another example is the Monmouth School District. The English teacher in their first year with a BA would begin earning $42,200. If he wanted to go back to school and earn a master’s degree his salary would jump to $45,300. After that, he could accumulate 30 more units at which time he would be awarded $47,300. Starting salaries for other schools vary. Here are a few other district examples:
- BA – $46550
- MA -$49,950
- BA – $47,500
- MA -$52,388
There are over 690 school districts across the state of New Jersey. To see additional teacher salary data for other schools in the state, see the chart here: