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Education Candidates

Applying for a teaching position may seem like an overwhelming task. The resources below will help you through the process.

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Credential File FAQs

What is a credential file?

A credential file is maintained by the Career Center and contains three to five letters of recommendation and must contain the Consent to Disclose Information Form [pdf] (also available from the Career Center). Credential files are automatically set up upon receipt of any recommendation letter or the Consent to Disclose Information form, whichever comes first.

Students may request written letters of recommendation from professionals such as faculty, staff, teaching supervisors, employers, or community leaders which should support the student's candidacy for a work position by highlighting skills, education, and experience.

Student files may be "open" or "closed." We recommend having a combination of open and closed letters.

  • NON-CONFIDENTIAL (open) files mean that you have a right to review all letters in your file. If your letters are non-confidential you can manage your own file from home.
  • You may, however, choose to waive this right of access and request letters as CONFIDENTIAL (closed). These letters cannot be reviewed by you. The Career Center is allowed to tell you only the date a letter was received, who wrote it, and that it is confidential.

At the top of the Recommendation Letter Cover Page [pdf] provided by the Career Center, students must indicate if the reference letter is to be CONFIDENTIAL or NON-CONFIDENTIAL by checking the appropriate box and signing the form. Any letters of recommendation returned to the Career Center that are not written on or attached to this standard form will be automatically treated as NON-CONFIDENTIAL. The status of a letter, once determined by the candidate or author, cannot be altered.

Who should have a credential file?

Students entering the teaching profession are required to have a credential file as part of the employment process required by school districts. That file may be managed by a student independently (with confidential recommendations in individual sealed envelopes signed by the person writing the recommendations) or via the Career Center as a student service.

Students entering teaching or other professions choose to open a file with the Career Center for the following reasons:

  • Each author need only write reference letters once. Copies are sent upon request.
  • All recommendations are maintained in a central location.

Now that more and more schools are requesting online files, it is easier for the student to maintain his/her own file on their own computers.

What does a credential file contain?

At St. John Fisher College, the standard file contains:

  • Letter on St. John Fisher College letterhead stating that the individual is a Fisher student or an alumnus and whether the file is "open" (non-confidential), "closed" (confidential), or "mixed" (has both types of recommendations).
  • 3 to 5 letters of recommendation. Note: You should give each of your letter writers the Recommendation Letter Cover Page [pdf] that should be sent with the written letter.
  • The Consent to Disclose Information Form [pdf] (also available in the Career Center).
  • Transcripts ARE NOT part of a credential file. They are only available from the Registrar's Office. Nor are any test scores.
Who should write letters of recommendation?

Those professionals who know a student well and can attest to job related abilities including professors, community leaders, managers or supervisors from related positions or volunteer activities should be asked to provide reference letters. Personal references may not be as effective as professional references. References should be asked to provide the letter (never assume) and given as much lead time as possible to prepare the written reference. Each reference letter should include:

  • How long the reference has known the student and in what capacity;
  • Performance strengths, transferable skills and fit to career goals;
  • Contact information for follow up and signature.
How are files sent out?

The Career Center will send out credential files upon request, usually within 24 business hours. Requests can be made in person at the Career Center, by phone at (585) 385-8050, or email to

All requests must contain the following information:

  • Your name - spelled out if over the phone. (Maiden name if appropriate)
  • Year of graduation or program completion
  • Phone number
  • Name and address of organization to receive file (we have addresses for the Rochester area schools)

Many schools now require you to upload your credential file onto specific online application websites. We have access to the following online application websites: Monroe2BOCESErie1BOCES (WNYRIC), Rochester City School District, and Webster Central School District.

When requesting that the Career Center upload your confidential file to an online recruitment website, be certain to:

  • Include the email address used in your application as this is how we will locate you in the system;
  • Indicate which online recruitment website you want your documents uploaded to.
Is there a fee for using the credential file service?

There is no fee for mailing credential files within the U.S. until six months after graduation or program completion. If, however, the student has requested 15 sets, there will be a fee of $3/file starting with the 16th set. Six months after graduating, there will be a $3 per file fee for everyone that requests mailing a file, regardless of number. Outside the U.S., the fee will be $5 per file.

How long is a file maintained?

Files are maintained at the Career Center for five years, after which files will be destroyed unless the Career Center is specifically contacted to retain the file. Please send a certified letter to the Career Center if you would like to keep your file active beyond five years.