Substitute Authorization

How do I Obtain a Substitute Authorization?

Substitute Authorization Requirements

A substitute authorization may be issued by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to an individual who: 

  • Has successfully completed the course, Substitute Authorization Course (see Step 1 below)
  • Has at least one of the following:
  1. Holds an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree or 60 semester hours of credit from a regionally-accredited institution
  2. Holds a Paraeducator Certificate issued by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners
  3. Holds an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree or 60 semester hours issued outside the United States (credential evaluation must be established, see more information below)
  • Has successfully completed the application process including the background check (see Step 2 below)

Iowa Teacher Preparation Program Participant

Substitute Authorization course is not required if you have completed an Iowa teacher preparation program but you have not completed your student teaching (see more information below)

Step 1: Complete Substitute Authorization Course

Substitute Authorization Course addresses the four components required by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners: Classroom Management, Strategies for Learning, Diversity, and Ethics.

Registration Fee: $100

Required Book: Participants are required to order the Substitute Teacher Handbook. Click on the link, add to cart and proceed to checkout where you will create your account. Choose Heartland AEA as your district. The book is $24.95, plus shipping and handling.

For a list of Heartland AEA classes and to register, visit: 

Substitute Authorization Quick Search Catalog 

Step 2: Submit Application to the Board of Educational Examiners

The application directions and assistance will be provided during the Substitute Authorization course. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ application system is entirely online at its website.

Background Check and Fingerprinting

As part of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ application process, a background check and fingerprinting are required for all new applicants for Iowa licensure. 

The application fee is currently $85, and the background check fee is $35 (+ a $3 convenience fee) payable to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (fees subject to change by BOEE). Applicants will complete their background screenings through Iowa Fieldprint and pay a fee of $34.35 to them.

Substitute Authorization Authority

Receiving a Substitute Authorization will allow an individual who holds an associate’s degree or higher or has completed 60 semester hours through a regionally-accredited institution to substitute in grades PK-12 for no more than 10 consecutive days in a 30-day period in one job assignment for a regularly-assigned teacher who is absent, except in the driver’s education classroom. An individual who holds a paraeducator certificate with a substitute authorization as an area of concentration will be authorized to substitute ONLY in the special education classroom to which the individual paraeducator is assigned for no more than five consecutive days. A school administrator may request permission through the BOEE for a certified paraeducator to substitute outside their special education classroom.

Term of a Substitute Authorization

A Substitute Authorization is valid for five years. 

Renewal of a Substitute Authorization

For renewals, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners accepts licensure renewal credits from an approved Iowa provider such as the AEA system, ISEA, or PEI, or undergraduate or graduate college credits from a regionally-accredited institution. If you choose an out-of-state program, college semester hour credits must be earned (not CEUs or staff development). Credits need to be earned after the issue date of the current license, or be no more than five years old if the license is expired. Credits should be relevant to education.

Employment Opportunities

Once you have obtained your Substitute Authorization, you can apply to your preferred school district(s). View the list of districts in the Heartland AEA area:

School Districts in the Heartland AEA area

Please note: Local school districts have the option of hiring individuals with a Substitute Authorization. It does not guarantee employment. It is your responsibility to contact districts for which you are interested in subbing.

Although it is not a requirement to obtain your Substitute Authorization, you will be required to complete both of the Mandatory Reporter trainings (child abuse and dependent adult abuse) prior to employment with an Iowa School District. These trainings are available through AEA Learning Online or the Iowa Department of Health & Human Services.

Substitute Authorization vs. Substitute License

A Substitute Authorization is not the same as a Substitute License. To obtain a Substitute License, you must have completed a full state of Iowa-approved teacher preparation program and held, or are eligible to hold, an Iowa teaching license.

Iowa Teacher Preparation Program Options

If you have completed a teacher preparation program but have not completed your student teaching:

  • You do not need to take the substitute authorization course. 
  • You can apply for a Substitute Authorization through the Board of Educational Examiners’ online application system at its website.
  • As part of the online application process, you will need to upload a letter from the college on school letterhead outlining the courses you have completed that meet the substitute authorization course requirements AND your official transcript listing these courses. Or instead of a letter from the college, you can upload your official transcript AND the course descriptions for each of the courses you took that meet the substitute authorization course requirements (classroom management, strategies for learning, diversity and ethics).

Degrees Earned Outside the United States

If you earned your degree outside of the United States, you will need a credential evaluation that establishes the equivalent degree that would be awarded in the United States. 

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners will accept evaluations from members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. For a list of current members, visit their website. You will need to contact the members directly to obtain information about their services, fees and requirements.