Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in New Jersey

As of May 2013, New Jersey’s preschool teachers were earning the second-highest salaries among their peers nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The 12,890 preschool teachers in the state earned an average of $36,970. Certain areas of New Jersey offered higher salaries. For example, the Wayne, NJ metro area paid preschool teachers $50,320 on average; while the Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ area paid them $45,200 per year.

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To learn how to become a preschool teacher in New Jersey, review these steps:

Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program
Pass the Necessary Examinations
Apply for Your New Jersey Teaching Certificate
Maintain and Upgrade Your New Jersey Teaching Certificate



Step 1. Complete a Degree and Teacher Preparation Program in New Jersey

Preschool teachers in New Jersey are licensed to teach grades Preschool through Third.

To become a preschool teacher in New Jersey you must obtain a bachelor’s degree with a major in the liberal arts or sciences and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. A list of approved preschool teacher preparation programs in New Jersey is available here.

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Your preschool teacher preparation program is expected to include 13 credits in classes pertaining to Preschool to Grade 3, and 60 credits in the liberal arts and sciences. Additionally, all preschool teachers must complete a course like biology, health or nutrition to satisfy the state’s physiology and hygiene requirement.

Before you can receive a Certificate of Eligibility to teach Preschool through Grade 3, you must also meet the state’s GPA requirements. Those graduating before September 1, 2016 must have a minimum GPA of 2.75. Those graduating after September 1, 2016 need a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

Courses that you will take in your Preschool through Grade 3 teacher preparation program will have titles that include:

  • Emerging Literacy
  • Young Children’s Development, Behavior and Learning
  • Psychology an Education of Exceptional Children and Youth
  • Working with Families of Young Children
  • Early Childhood Classroom Management
  • Professional Dispositions in Early Childhood Education

Experience Required for New Jersey Preschool Teachers

In the latter part of your New Jersey preschool teacher preparation program, you will learn and practice the practical aspects of teaching through a field experience or practicum. During this experience, you will mostly observe teachers in the classroom, but you will have a chance to participate a bit.

Additionally, you will complete at least one semester of student teaching. This will involve taking on most standard responsibilities in the age-appropriate classroom. You will put the classroom management skills and teaching strategies you have learned to use, and work with students independently and in groups. Your performance will be assessed by the regular classroom teacher and by supervisors from your teacher preparation program.

New Jersey law requires that you complete 24 hours of pedagogical practice in Preschool through Grade 3 prior to certification. You must submit a transcript showing that you have competed this through approved coursework. You must also submit the Verification of Completion: 24 Hour Early Childhood Preservice Program form.

Child Care Provider Qualifications in New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Children and Families regulates child care outside of the public school system in New Jersey. If you seek a preschool teacher job in New Jersey at a private child care center, you will be subject to its regulations and licensing requirements. The Department maintains a list of all licensed child care facilities in the state.

All staff at licensed child care facilities in New Jersey must pass a child abuse record information background check and a criminal history record fingerprint check. Additionally, you will need to pass a TB test and complete a physical exam. Every staff member must have two written or verbal references on file, referring to the individual’s work experience or education with children. Special rules apply to early childhood centers:

  • Must have two staff members on site, both at least 18 years of age, at all times
  • Must have at least six children below age six
  • Each child below 18 months of age or with special needs must have two staff members
  • Staff members from ages 14 to 18 may be used when school is not in session or if they are participating in a school/work program

The director of an Early Childhood program with 30 or more children must meet one of these requirements:

  • Master’s degree in a field related to children or business and no experience
  • Bachelor’s degree and one year of managerial experience

The director of an Early Childhood program with fewer than 30 children and the head teacher of any size Early Childhood program must meet one of these requirements:

  • Master’s degree in Education AND 6 college credits AND one year of experience
  • Master’s degree in another field AND 9 credits AND one year experience
  • Bachelor’s degree in education, psychology, nursing, health or a related field in child growth and development, AND 6 credits AND 2 years experience
  • Bachelor’s degree in another field AND 9 credits AND 3 years experience OR 6 credits and 4 years experience
  • Teaching certification in another field AND 9 credits AND 3 years experience OR 6 credits and 4 years experience
  • Montessori education equivalent to a bachelor’s degree AND 2 years of experience
  • Head Teacher endorsement from the New Jersey Registry for Childhood Professionals, Professional Impact New Jersey



Step 2. Pass the Examinations Required for New Jersey Preschool Teachers

Prospective preschool teachers in New Jersey must pass basic skills and content level examinations that correspond to their intended teaching area. These tests are offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and are known as the Praxis exams.

Basic Skills Exams

A new state law in New Jersey requires that all prospective teachers pass basic skills assessments before they will be admitted into a teacher preparation program.

Before enrolling in a teacher preparation program in New Jersey, you must pass the Praxis Core tests with the following scores:

  • Reading – 156
  • Writing – 162
  • Math – 150

You may be exempt from taking the above tests if you have received the following scores on at least one of the other standard assessments:

  • GRE- combined score of 310 quantitative and verbal and 4.0 on analytical writing
  • ACT- 23
  • SAT- combined score of 1660 (critical reading, math and writing)

Content Level Exams

Additionally, you must pass the Praxis II exam that corresponds to your intended teaching area. Preschool teachers must pass Early Childhood: Content Knowledge with a score of 159 or better.

Testing centers in New Jersey include:

  • Fair Lawn
  • Clark
  • Hamilton
  • Pemberton
  • Laurel Springs



Step 3. Apply for Your New Jersey Teaching Certificate

There are three stages to becoming certified as a Preschool Teacher in New Jersey. First, you must establish eligibility. Completing the education, experience and examination requirements described above establishes eligibility. Second, you must become legally employed in a school district and complete a provisional teaching period. Finally, you must be recommended for permanent certification.

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If you have established your eligibility to become a preschool teacher in New Jersey, you are ready to apply for your Certificate of Eligibility (CE). Because you have completed your teacher preparation program already, you will be applying for a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS).

Begin this process by applying online. You must pay the application fee of $190 online via credit card only; check or money order will not be accepted. You will have to submit the following documents by postal mail:

  • If you attended a teacher preparation program out-of-state, complete Section A of the Program Verification Form. Mail it to the certification officer at your school for them to complete, add the college seal, and return to you. You will submit this to the Office of Licensing and Credentials.
  • Official college transcripts
  • If you attended school in a foreign country, an evaluation of your credentials by following the instructions provided here
  • Signed and notarized Oath of Office/Verification of Accuracy form
  • If you have teaching experience, a letter verifying this on school letterhead

Mail the above information to State of New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Licensure & Credentials,  P.O. Box 500Trenton, NJ 08625-0500.

You may check the status of your submitted certification application online anytime at this link. Your CEAS will be mailed to you when materials have been processed.

(Note- If you did not complete a teacher preparation program but completed all other requirements, you may apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE) via the methods above. You will complete the teacher preparation program while teaching under this CE in New Jersey.)

Ready to get started? Check out our comprehensive list of ECE degrees by State at various levels to determine what program is right for you.


Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your New Jersey Teaching Certificate

You have made it! You now have a CEAS to teach preschool in New Jersey!

Next comes your provisional teaching period. When you find a full-time teaching job in a New Jersey school district, the district will apply for a Provisional Certificate for you. You must complete the state’s Provisional Teacher Program during your first year of teaching. A senior teacher will mentor you for 30 weeks, and your performance will be evaluated three times. Your Provisional Certificate is valid for two years and may be renewed up to two times.

Converting a Provisional Certificate to a Standard Certificate

Under your Provisional Certificate, you must complete the state’s Provisional Teacher Program during your first year of teaching. A senior teacher will mentor you for 30 weeks, and your performance will be evaluated three times. Your Provisional Certificate is valid for two years and may be renewed up to two times. When you are ready to upgrade to a Standard Certificate, your school district will notify you and you can apply online.

Your Standard Certificate is considered to be permanent and therefore does not have to be renewed. As a preschool teacher in New Jersey, however, you are expected to meet the professional standards for your profession. These standards may be found here. You will take Professional Development as needed and develop a Professional Development Plan (PDP) with your school district, which will be individualized based on your needs.

New Jersey Preschool Teacher Salaries

The New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Certification and Induction is responsible for certifying and monitoring preschool teachers in the Garden State. New Jersey educators and parents are justifiably proud of their preschool program. In 2004, a survey conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) ranked New Jersey first among all US states in terms of its commitment to quality preschool standards. New Jersey’s Abbott District preschool program was singled out as an example for other schools to follow.

One reason for this success is the state’s ability to attract top-notch teachers by offering them the high salaries good preschool teachers deserve. The Vineland and Ocean City areas of New Jersey boast the highest preschool teacher salaries in the nation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 438,200 preschool teachers in the US earning a median annual salary of $27,136 (average annual salary $30,750). In contrast, New Jersey’s 12,840 actively employed preschool teachers earn an annual median salary of $36,970 (2012).

Job growth is predicted to be better than most occupations with a 25 percent increase expected between 2010 and 2020.

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Preschool teachers are employed by state school districts, private preschools, government family service programs, colleges/universities and industries that provide preschools for their employees. Salaries vary depending on the place of employment as well as geographic location. Salaries in different New Jersey cities as provided by the New Jersey DOE are as follows:

New Jersey City
Number of Teachers
Hourly Wage
Atlantic City
Ocean City

The table below provides 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary information for preschool teachers in New Jersey:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
Atlantic City-Hammonton NJ
Camden NJ Metropolitan Division
Edison-New Brunswick NJ Metropolitan Division
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
Ocean City NJ
Trenton-Ewing NJ
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton NJ
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division

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