Substitute licensure: The Board of Educational Examiners has established an emergency rule to allow paraeducators employed in an Iowa public school district or non-public school who hold a paraeducator certificate with a substitute authorization as an area of concentration to be allowed to substitute outside their assigned special education classroom IF permission is granted. This permission is not intended for long-term subbing.
Administrators may submit a request here: Paraeducator Substitute Request Form
Substitute Authorization Requirements
A substitute authorization may be issued by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to an individual who:
- Has attained a minimum age of 21 years
- Has successfully completed the course, Substitute Authorization Course (see Step 1 below)
- Has at least one of the following:
- Holds an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree or 60 semester hours of credit from a regionally-accredited institution
- Holds a Paraeducator Certificate issued by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners
- 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 are waiting on passing Praxis test scores or 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
For a list of classes and to register, visit
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.
Application Fee (subject to change by the BOEE): $160 ($85 Application Fee; $75 Background Check Fee)
Substitute Authorization Authority
Receiving a Substitute Authorization will allow an individual who holds an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree 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 without an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree or 60 semester hours of credit and completes the Substitute Authorization course will be authorized to substitute only in the special education classroom to which they are assigned for no more than 10 consecutive days in a 30-day period.
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.
Once you have obtained your Substitute Authorization, you can apply to your preferred school district(s). View the list of districts in the Prairie Lakes AEA region:
You can also visit the Teach Iowa website for more opportunities.
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.
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
Waiting on Praxis Test scores or have not completed your student teaching?
If you have completed a teacher preparation program but are waiting on passing Praxis test scores, or you 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 www.boee.iowa.gov.
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.
Renewing Substitute Authorization
Substitute Authorization is valid for five years, and expires five years from the date of issuance by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. Application fees are paid to the BOEE during the application process.
Required Documents for Renewal
- Official Transcript(s) showing completion of coursework totaling two (2) credits. Courses should be completed between the issue date and the expiration date of your certificate, or be no more than five years old. (Here are the Top Five Self-Paced Courses available in AEA Learning Online.)
- Valid Certificates of Completion for the Mandatory Reporter: Child Abuse training and Mandatory Reporter: Dependent Adult Abuse training.
Coursework to Obtain Credits
You may use classes offered for license renewal credit from any Iowa Area Education Agency (AEA) or undergraduate or graduate credit from a regionally-accredited college or university.
If you are renewing an expired Substitute Authorization, credits must have been issued in the last five years.
Please note: You do not need to retake the course to renew an expired Authorization. You only take the course, Substitute Authorization: Fostering Student Learning as a Substitute, to obtain your Authorization. It cannot be taken again to renew your Authorization.
For a list of classes and to register, visit:
Paraeducator Renewal Information
Paraeducators Without a Bachelor’s Degree
If you hold a Paraeducator Certificate and a Substitute Authorization, your Substitute Authorization will automatically renew with your Paraeducator Certificate.
Paraeducators With a Bachelor’s Degree
If you hold a Paraeducator Certificate and a Substitute Authorization, you will want to renew both your Paraeducator Certificate and your Substitute Authorization separately.
Mandatory Reporter Training
The AEA Online Learning System provides employees of participating Iowa school districts the Mandatory Reporter: Child Abuse and Mandatory Reporter: Dependent Adult Abuse trainings at no charge.
Steps to Apply for Substitute Authorization
You must be 21 to apply for authorization. This document outlines the items that will need to be uploaded into your online application.