How You Can Teach in NJ without an Education Degree

Most college graduates don’t know that you can begin a teaching career in New Jersey without a traditional teaching and education degree from a four-year college or university. Since 1984, New Jersey public schools have been welcoming talented individuals with liberal arts backgrounds but no education coursework to the teaching profession by way of an alternative licensure process commonly known as Alternate Route.

The Alternate Route program is aimed at individuals from diverse backgrounds, of all ages, and from a variety of educational and professional experiences. The program is offered through a partnership between The New Jersey Department of Education and education program providers like Rutgers Alternate Route. Teachers hired through Alternate Route work during the day (receiving full-time teacher salaries) and attend classes--mostly one evening per week and some weekends--to learn essential instructional content and strategies. At the end of two years, Alternate Route candidates obtain a standard teaching license, which allows them to retain their teaching positions and pursue tenure.

Take the first step in pursuing a teaching career in New Jersey! Use the information below to start the process of becoming a licensed teacher through Alternate Route’s flexible and fast-track teacher preparation pathway.

Step 1: Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility

First, interested applicants need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (CE), which is issued to candidates who meet the basic academic study and test requirements for teacher certification. The basic requirements you must meet are:

  • Bachelor’s Degree with at least 30 credits in the teaching subject area, or 60 Liberal Arts credits for general elementary. For more specific licensing requirements, click here.

  • 3.0 GPA Minimum

  • Passing Score on Praxis II Exam. You must meet the passing score in the subject area in which you wish to teach. Find a guide on which ETS test to take in this document.

  • Pass CORE basic skills assessment offered by ETS

  • Complete the mandated physiology and hygiene test offered at NJDOE County Ed Office.

Step 2: Begin Your Job Search

Once you have your CE, you’re ready to look for a teaching position! School districts will hire applicants with a CE and sponsor you for a Provisional Teaching Certificate. Keep in mind that before you can legally teach independently in your classroom, you must complete a state-mandated 50 hour Pre-service Course online in order to continue in the program.

Step 3: Complete All Background Checks

Before you are allowed to begin any responsibilities as a teacher of record, every district will require additional identity and criminal history background checks as a standard requirement. Many districts require these reports before pre-service candidates can observe or guest-teach in their schools, as well.

Step 4: Start Teaching!

Once you’ve received a teaching position, your status changes from “CE” to a “Provisional Teacher” enrolled in New Jersey’s Provisional Teaching Program (PTP). Once you’ve completed the state-mandated course of study for Alternate Route teachers you’ll be on your way to earning a Standard Teaching License! See an illustrative workflow of Certification 101 here.

These courses are offered by Rutgers Alternate Route and other state-approved regional training centers and may take you up to two years to complete. The Rutgers Alternate Route program classes are offered in a blended environment, providing both in-person and online classes, and only require class attendance in the first year of teaching, as second year requirements are met through job-embedded experiences in the candidate's school. Our new catalog contains the latest course information and associated costs, which can be viewed here.

During this period, you will also need to be mentored by a teacher in your school, which will be coordinated by your principal or someone in human resources. You can also expect to be observed and evaluated by your principal over the course of two years.  At the end of your second year, your school principal will recommend you for a Standard Teaching Certificate if your teaching performance is considered effective.  

Standard certificates are permanent teaching certificates issued to individuals who have met all of the requirements for certification in the State of New Jersey. This certificate is issued to candidates who’ve successfully completed a traditional or Alternate Route teacher training program.

Is Teaching Right For You?

To learn how we can support your journey to becoming a teacher, please visit our website or contact us at (732) 564-9100.

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Heather Ngoma

Heather Ngoma has over 20 years experience collaborating with educators across New Jersey to drive education innovation. She currently serves as the Director of Rutgers University's Alternate Route Teacher Training Program at the Center for Effective School Practices, a program which helps career changers, recent college graduates and other aspiring education professionals become licensed teachers in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @heatherngoma.