Substitute Authorization & Paraeducator Certification Information

Substitute Authorization

February 15, 2022 –  UPDATE – Use of Substitute Teachers (BOEE)

  1. AA degree or BA or 60 hours of coursework at a post-secondary level.  (Beyond Sub Auth class)
  2. Receiving a Substitute Authorization will allow you to substitute in any subject, any grade level, but does not include long-term subbing.  The individual must have an associate’s degree or have completed 60 semester hours through an accredited university approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Day limitation (10 days in a row in a 30-day period in one assignment)
  3. Paraeducators who hold a Paraeducator certificate with the limited Substitute Authorization endorsement may serve as a substitute only in their own special education classroom. Limited to 5 consecutive days in your assigned SPED classroom. The Substitute Authorization endorsement added to a paraeducator certificate only works if the Paraeducator is assigned a classroom. If they are not assigned to the classroom they may not sub for that class.
  4. 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.

Paraeducator Certification

Prerequisites for Obtaining Certification

  • Minimum of 18 years of age
  • Verification of high school completion or equivalence (See Step 2 below for more information)
  • Participants must have access to a computer/internet in order to take the courses.
  • It is preferred, but not required, that an accredited Iowa school district employ participants as a practicing paraeducator, work as substitute paraeducators in an accredited Iowa school district, or have a teacher and administrator willing to mentor you through the certification program.

Step 1: Complete Paraeducator Courses I, II & III

To obtain a Paraeducator Generalist Certification, you must complete the following three courses (from any AEA). Central Rivers AEA offers these courses as a blended opportunity (Virtual face-to-face and online coursework). Together, these three courses cover all six competencies.

  • Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course I Introduction/Foundation (Course #204124)
  • Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course II Instructional Support (Course #204317)
  • Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course III Behavioral Supports (Course #204318)

Each of the three Paraeducator Generalist Certification courses involves virtual meetings and the completion of online units. Participants need to have access to a computer (not a mobile device such as an iPad or mobile phone) and the internet to complete these courses.

Fee for each course: $120 (Total $360)

The AEAs are not the only options for paraeducator certification; other organizations also offer programs:  Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Kirkwood Community College, Northeast Iowa Community College, Western Community College, and Mt Mercy University. Their contact information can be found on their websites for further information regarding their offerings.

Step 2: Submit Application to the Board of Educational Examiners

The application system is entirely online at the BOEE website.

Verification of High School Completion

As part of the online application process, you will need to upload verification of High School completion. This may be a scanned or electronic copy of a diploma, transcripts, letter from the school district on school letterhead or verification of GED completion. Accepted forms of verification include:

  • High school diploma
  • High school transcripts with graduation date
  • Certificate of GED completion
  • Letter on school letterhead from school district individual graduated with year graduated listed.
  • Letter from program GED was completed from including year completed
  • Letter from the State Department of Education verifying graduation or GED completion
  • 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.
    • New applicants for licensure will be given instructions and a unique BoEE code to schedule their own electronic fingerprinting through a Fieldprint center. These centers are conveniently located throughout the state (and nationwide). Applicants will choose the time and location that works best for them.
    • The instructions will be given to the applicants through our online application system when they apply.

Term of Paraeducator Certification

A paraeducator certification is valid for five years.

Renewal of a Paraeducator Certification

You will need transcript(s) showing three (3) renewal credits and the certificates of completion for Mandatory Reporter: Child Abuse and Mandatory Reporter: Dependent Adult Abuse training.

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.

Early Childhood Area of Concentration

Teacher Assistants document to determine who in your program requires an early childhood paraeducator certificate.

In order to be certified as a paraeducator with an area of concentration in Early Childhood, three courses are required:

For more information about the process and courses, check out the Early Childhood Information Packet for all things Early Childhood Paraeducator Concentration Area

Paraeducator FAQs

Mandatory & Non-Mandatory Training

AEA Learning Online Learning System provides educators with access to hundreds of self-paced training and courses.

Unsure which Mandatory Reporter training to take? Check out your Mandatory Certification Training options

Have some training to do for your district? Explore the Iowa mandatory & non-mandatory training list.


Visit the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners website for information about the licensure application and the renewal process. FAQs regarding licensing.