How to Become a Teacher in Florida
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This guide can help those wondering how to become a teacher in Florida. The Florida Department of Education issues teacher certifications for all educators in the state and sets clear guidelines about who qualifies and what it takes to become a teacher.
Any person hoping to teach in a public K-12 Florida school must earn a teaching certificate. Florida teachers can earn between $57,000 and $63,000 in median annual wages, depending on what grade level they teach. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for elementary and high school teachers will grow by 7% and 8%, respectively, from 2020-30. This is about as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations.
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Whether a first-time student looking for online colleges in Florida or a career changer thinking about going back to college to get a teaching degree, keep reading to get answers to common questions about teaching in the Sunshine State.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Florida?
Becoming a teacher in Florida involves meeting several requirements mandated by the Florida Department of Education (FDE). Anyone planning to teach K-12 in a Florida public school must seek a Professional Florida Educator's Certificate. The FDE currently offers two different types of certifications: temporary and professional. The temporary certification supports those completing student-teaching requirements.
The FDE also maintains separate requirements for applicants educated in Florida and those who attended an out-of-state program. It is important to review the requirements for each carefully.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Anyone applying for teaching certification in Florida must complete a bachelor's degree and an educator preparation program. First-time college students can select from a list of state-approved educator preparation programs throughout the state that offer both in-person and online learning options.
In the case of individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject but now want to change careers, Florida's Professional Development Certification Program helps prepare future educators through on-the-job training and competency-based evaluation.
Educators who completed their training out-of-state do not need to complete additional coursework. They will receive a temporary license while passing certification exams and demonstrating their teaching competencies.
Popular Online Teaching Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
Learners typically gain teaching experience during the fall or spring semester of senior year. Student teaching typically lasts the entire semester. Requirements can vary from school to school: At Florida Atlantic University, learners must hold a 2.5 or higher GPA and receive passing scores on each Florida Teacher Certification Exam section.
Student-teachers work under the direct supervision of certified teachers, gaining skills in areas such as classroom management, lesson planning, individualized learning, developing small group work, and liaising with other teachers and administrators.
Pass Required Certification Tests
The Bureau of Educator Certification manages testing requirements for teaching certification in Florida. Those who graduated from an approved educator program and passed all three sections of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE) qualify for a Professional Florida Educator's Certificate. Those who do not pass all three sections qualify for a temporary certificate.
Individuals who plan to teach specific subject areas may need to pass additional examinations to qualify for certification. Most of these apply to teachers in secondary school settings. Common K-12 certification subject area exams include:
- Art (K-12)
- Computer Science (K-12)
- Elementary Education (K-6)
- English to Speakers of Other Languages (K-12)
- World Languages (K-12)
- Health (K-12)
- Music (K-12)
- Physical Education (K-12)
Apply for Certification
After graduating from an approved educator preparation program, completing student-teaching experience, and passing all required exams, individuals can apply for certification. This includes filling out an online application for educator certification. In addition to providing demographic information such as full name, address, and social security number, applicants must also provide official transcripts.
As of 2022, initial Florida certificates cost $75, with each additional subject or endorsement costing an additional $75. Those moving from temporary to professional certification also incur a $75 fee. Applicants with required documentation at their fingertips can usually complete the application in less than an hour. Wait times for certification approval vary.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Florida?
Temporary certificates remain valid for three years and are non-renewable. Professional certificates last five years. Teachers must complete the renewal process at the end of the fifth year. Applicants for renewal must get a certificate renewal district application from their school district and submit it directly to the FDE.
To qualify for renewal, teachers must also complete six hours of college credit in each of their certified subject areas. One of these credits must also focus on teaching students with disabilities. Teachers without access to approved college credits can also choose from several equivalencies, including in-service hours, subject area exam passing scores, or a certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Florida
Jobs for those who obtain teaching certification in Florida can look forward to projected education career expansion in the coming years. Data from O*NET OnLine shows that jobs for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers, as well as those for special education teachers, are projected to grow by 7-8% in Florida between 2018-28.
Teachers in Florida can expect to earn median salaries between $57,000 and $63,000, depending on the grade level they teach. Because many districts use ladder systems, those with more experience tend to earn more. Additionally, earning a master's degree in education can help individuals earn more if they decide to attend graduate school. The following section looks at some career routes available to educators in Florida.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Florida
Kindergarten teachers work with young students, teaching them the basics in math, science, reading, and spelling. Rather than teaching individual subjects, kindergarten educators keep the same students all day and rotate through subjects. They also teach social-emotional skills such as sharing, getting along with classmates, and time management.
Median Annual Salary: $57,920
Elementary School Teachers
Elementary school teachers work with students in grades 1-5 and build on the foundational skills learned in Kindergarten. They still teach all subjects rather than individual topics, creating lesson plans appropriate to key learning requirements. They communicate with parents, other teachers, and administrators about student progress.
Median Annual Salary: $57,520
Middle School Teachers
Middle school teachers work with students in grades 6-8 and prepare them for high school. They teach individual subjects such as math, science, English, history, and specialty subjects such as world languages or physical education. They also help prepare students for state-mandated standardized tests.
Median Annual Salary: $59,820
High School Teachers
High school teachers educate students in grades 9-12, preparing them for entering the workforce or starting a higher education program. In addition to teaching regular, subject-specific classes, they may also teach AP coursework. They work with students to determine the next steps. Some write recommendations and reference letters for graduating learners as they take their next steps.
Median Annual Salary: $61,530
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers work with K-12 students with emotional, learning, intellectual, or physical disabilities. In addition to developing and implementing individualized education programs (IEPs) for each learner, they also update these regularly to reflect performance and progress. They work closely with other teachers and administrators to ensure IEPs get implemented properly.
Median Annual Salary: $63,950
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Florida
How do I get teaching certification in Florida?
Earning a teaching certification in Florida requires candidates to earn at least a bachelor's degree and complete a state-approved educator preparation program. They must also participate in a semester-long student-teaching experience that allows them to build the skills required to lead classrooms.
After graduating, individuals must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examination and any additional subject-specific exams required for their certification. They must then apply to the Florida Department of Education by completing an application, paying a non-refundable fee, and submitting all required documentation.
Can I teach in Florida without certification?
Anyone who wants to teach at a public K-12 school in Florida must earn certification through the Florida Department of Education. That said, some private schools may allow individuals with appropriate education and training to bypass the certification requirement. Because these schools do not receive state funding, they do not have to follow the same requirements as public schools.
Many private schools still require teaching applicants to hold certification, as this demonstrates to students and parents alike a commitment to best practices and high standards.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Florida?
The amount of time it takes to meet the requirements for teaching certification in Florida depends on where the student is in the process. First-time college students typically spend four years earning their bachelor's degree and completing student-teaching requirements.
Those who already possess a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject can go through the Professional Development Certification Program or pursue a master's degree in education. This second option usually takes about two years. The remaining time, which varies based on individual applicants and processing times, depends on passing exams and submitting certification applications.
What can I do with teaching certification in Florida?
Earning a teaching certification in Florida qualifies individuals to pursue a variety of jobs, depending on their certification and subject areas. Jobs commonly taken by those who go through the certification process include kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers and special education teachers. These jobs can be found at public and private schools throughout the state.
Some individuals may decide to update their credentials with a master's degree and pursue more advanced jobs as principals, instructional coordinators, or other high-level administration roles.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Florida?
Each county sets substitute teaching requirements, so those interested should carefully view local requirements.
For instance, at Seminole County Public Schools, applicants must hold a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old when applying. They must also complete digital fingerprinting as part of a background check and pay a non-refundable fee of $81.25 to apply for a substitute teacher certificate.
Substitute pay rates are commensurate with educational levels, meaning those with higher degrees -- or specialized teaching experience -- tend to earn more.
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