Florida. The mere mention of the state conjures up images of palm trees, white sand, and Disney World. The perfect vacation destination.
But to you, Florida is more than just a dream vacation. It’s home, or it soon will be. To you, Florida will always be a special place, but it doesn’t represent a break from reality or a magical fantasy. To you, Florida is also a place where everyday people go about their lives living and working and where children live and grow and need to be taught and inspired just like children all over the world.
And you see the need for teachers to do the teaching and inspiring, and you want to have a part in the teaching in Florida. Teaching is the transmission of knowledge to the next generation. Teaching in Florida: Is there anything really more magical than that?
Now all you need to know is how to become a certified teacher in Florida. And to find that out, all you have to do is keep reading.
First, lets take a little overview of what the job outlook is for teachers in Florida.
Florida’s nickname is the Sunshine State, and teaching projections in Florida are indeed looking pretty sunny. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DOE) released job projections for the period between 2013 and 2021. According to the DOE’s report, for jobs at the bachelor’s degree level, teaching jobs fall into both the categories of jobs with the most expected job openings and fastest growing.
According to Teach in Florida, a website affiliated with the Florida Department of Education, there are certain areas of teaching where the need is more urgent. These areas are mostly at the middle and high school level, specifically including the subjects of science, reading, and math. There is also a need for more teachers in the fields of exceptional education, English Language Arts, foreign languages, and English speakers of other languages (ESOL).
Going strictly by the numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) and Florida’s education department, teaching in Florida looks a little less sunny. Florida teachers have an average take home pay below that of the national average. Yet as PolitiFact Florida points out, it’s hard to compare teacher salaries on averages alone. Not only do Florida teachers not pay income tax but differences in cost of living and benefits provided mean teacher pay in Florida may not really significantly lag behind that of other states.
And besides, while money is a necessity of life, if you’re like most teachers, you’re not doing it for the money. Whether you’re a veteran teacher looking to relocate or a Florida native fresh out of high school exploring teaching for the first time, you became attracted to teaching because it’s a calling. And whether you live in the highest paid or the lowest paid state, teaching is something you were born to do.
So, Florida. Whether you’re born there or transplanted yourself there, it’s a great place to live. And just like everyone who lives in Florida takes a different route to get there, from being born there to retiring there, there are different routes you can take to getting teacher certification in Florida.
If you want to teach in Florida, you can take the standard route: go to an approved college in Florida, get an undergraduate degree or graduate degree, and follow the rest of the steps to getting your teacher certification. However, there are also roads, if not less traveled, differently traveled, to becoming a teacher in Florida. If you are already certified as a teacher in another state, there is a way for you to get certification in Florida. If you merely completed a teacher education program in another state, but weren’t yet certified before deciding to move to Florida, there is a way you can become certified in Florida. And there are also several alternative routes to becoming a teacher in Florida that may be more appropriate for your background and experience.
Whichever route you choose to follow to become a teacher in Florida, there will be several steps involved. There will be application processes, paperwork, and possibly tests. Below you will find an overview of the various different Florida teacher certification pathways. Of course, you’ll need to go to the Florida Department of Education website to verify that no information has changed and to actually go through the certification process, but the information here will give you a good idea of what steps you’ll need to follow and what you should have handy when you start applying.
Keep reading to find out how to get a teaching certificate in Florida, how to get a temporary teaching certificate in Florida, how to become a substitute teacher in Florida, and even how to become a teacher in Florida without a teaching degree.
The Florida Department of Education Certification has four basic steps:
The application: A completed application includes:
Statement of Eligibility
Your completed application will be reviewed, and you will be labeled as eligible or not eligible to receive Florida teaching certification and whether that certification will be temporary or professional. If you are deemed non-eligible, you will be given a list of options to pursue in order to become eligible. If you are deemed eligible for a temporary certificate, you will be given a personalized list of requirements to satisfy before you can become fully certified. Your SOE will expire after three years. If you haven’t finished all of its requirements, you will need to reapply for a new one.
Employment To be issued a temporary teaching certificate, Florida requires you to be employed by a school that has state approval as an institution that has a proven professional education competence program in place. As long as it is a state approved program, the school where you are employed can be a public school, a charter school, a virtual online school, or a private school.
Fingerprinting As with most states, fingerprinting and background checks are prerequisites for becoming a teacher. Students are a sacred trust, and care is taken to make sure that the teachers interacting with them are people who are worthy of that trust.
In Florida, fingerprinting is overseen by the specific school districts or private schools. Therefore, you should wait to submit your fingerprints until you have accepted employment. If you get fingerprinted first, you may have to undergo the fingerprinting process a second time and pay any fingerprinting processing fees twice.
Your fingerprints, if you have gone through the appropriate channel, will be submitted to the statewide Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) as well as to the FBI for a federal criminal records check.
If you have no criminal history or felonies, you have nothing to worry about, and as long as you meet all the other criteria, your certificate will be issued within about thirty days. You can skip the next part and go straight to the section after about the types of teacher certification in Florida.
What if I do have a criminal history? If you do have a criminal history, that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t eligible for educator certification in Florida. It will depend on the specifics of the criminal conduct. Conviction for murder, kidnapping, abuse, and crimes of a sexual nature will usually disqualify a candidate from teaching in Florida. A complete list of offenses is listed under Section 1012.315 of the Florida Statutes.
Do not lie about your criminal history on the application forms; even sealed, expunged, and juvenile records must be disclosed. As tempting as it may be, failure to disclose pertinent information about your criminal record can result in denial of your certification when discovered.
If you have criminal convictions in your background, your teaching certification application will be diverted to the Professional Practices Services for a more detailed review. As part of the review process, you may be asked to submit relevant documents such as your arrest report, court documents, and a personal statement about the event. If you fail to comply with requests for documentation, your application will be automatically disregarded.
The Office of Professional Practice Services will notify you within 90 day whether or not your application has been approved; if it has not been, you will have a period of 20 days to appeal the decision. You can also re-apply for certification, but you will have to start all over again and the results may still be the same.
As you can see from the statement of eligibility and employment requirements above, to teach, Florida has two basic certifications: temporary and professional.
Temporary certification is non-renewable and is only valid for three years. The purpose of the temporary certificate is to give you time to complete all the requirements for the full professional certification. Besides the basic application steps listed above, at minimum you must have a bachelor’s degree to receive a Florida temporary teaching certificate.
The professional certificate is valid for five years and is Florida’s highest teaching certification. Like most other states, the state of Florida has requirements in place for renewal.
Florida teaching certification renewal requirements are not as severe as some other states, however. In order to renew your professional certification, you will need six semester hours of college credits, at least one of which must be in teaching students with disabilities. To be considered, credits need to have been earned within the span of your renewal period.
Inservices, subject area examinations, or certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards are all ways to substitute for some or even all of the credit requirements.
The standard way to become a teacher, in Florida and most other states, is to get a bachelor’s degree in education from a college or university that has a program in compliance with state standards and regulations for the teaching profession. In Florida, these are called Initial Teacher Preparation Programs.
Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult exploring a career switch to education, you will need a bachelor’s degree in order to get even a temporary teacher certification. And if you’re serious about becoming a teacher, it only makes sense to get your Bachelor’s in Education from an approved institution.
A further benefit of choosing this method to become a teacher is that your bachelor’s program will make sure you take all the appropriate courses you will need to get professional certification in Florida. To become a teacher the standard way, there are are only two additional steps you need to complete before you begin the basic certification steps.
These two steps are:
The colleges and universities below are all listed as approved initial teacher preparation programs as of when this article was written. Between them all, you will find various programs that span all aspects of education. However, some of the smaller colleges only offer very specific programs. For instance, some colleges do not have middle or secondary education programs; other colleges only offer teaching degrees in a limited area of subjects. Additionally, not all of these colleges and universities are based in Florida, although they have Florida campuses and are recognized by the state. You will need to make sure that you are enrolling in the Florida specific degree program.
To make sure you choose the appropriate program for yourself, you need to consider what subject or subjects you wish to teach and at what grade levels. Although there are some aspects of teaching that are universal, teaching kindergarten differs greatly from teaching high school, and the course requirements to prepare you for either will understandably be different. Similarly, if you plan to teach a specific subject like English, math, science, or social studies, you need to find a program that includes that subject and prepares you properly for certification.
Like most states, Florida has a testing component in place for getting Florida certification. The FTCE has three parts.
Florida teacher certification testing is not required of every teacher applicant; for some candidates, there are other ways of showing competencies in these three areas. However, if you are trying to get your Florida educator certificate the standard way, you will need to undergo Florida teacher certification testing. All test scores must date from within a period of ten years in order to be considered.
The purpose of the General Knowledge Test is to make sure you have sufficient background knowledge and are skilled in the three Rs: Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic. Even if you will not be teaching English Language Arts or Math, the state of Florida considers these skills to be essential knowledge for all teachers to possess.
There are 4 subtests within the General Knowledge Test: Essay (50 minutes), English Language Skills (40 minutes), Reading (55 minutes), and Mathematics (100 minutes). If you take all four tests at the same time, you will be given a 15 minute break.
There are about 120 multiple choice questions on the Florida Professional Education Test. You will have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the test.
This tests measures eight important educational skills or qualities:
The state of Florida certifications for dozens of subject areas. Every subject area has a corresponding examination as one method of demonstrating mastery. The tests differ both in the amount of questions and length of time allotted; some tests also have subparts.
If your initial teacher preparation program has prepared you well, you should pass all these tests with flying colors. If not, you can retake the test, but you’ll have to pay to take the test again and usually at a slightly higher fee than the first time.
If all this talk of testing is getting you down, remember that you’re planning on becoming a teacher, where you’ll presumable be administering some tests of your own. And you can’t dish it out if you’re not willing to take it...
If you are not a United States Citizen, you will still follow all the basic steps to get teacher certification; Florida also requires that you need to have valid immigration status. That means either obtaining a visa that allows you to work in the United States or becoming a citizen. Immigration status can be achieved through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS).
You will also need to apply for a Social Security number. Florida educator certification is only issued to applicants with a social security number. Additionally, Florida teacher certification examination scores need to be accompanied by a valid Social Security number in order to be accepted by the Bureau of Educator Certification. A Social Security number is not automatically issued with your other immigration documents but can be issued if you have the appropriate work status and you apply to the Social Security Administration.
If, as a foreign citizen, you underwent teacher training in a foreign country, you will also need to submit your foreign training credentials to an approved outside organization and obtain an original credential evaluation. Your official transcripts cannot simply be submitted to the Bureau of Educator Certification on their own.
So, if you are a foreign citizen, there are three additional steps you need to comply with to achieve Florida Department of Education teacher certification:
The state of Florida has signed the NASDTEC (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification) Interstate Agreement. The NASDTEC is a teaching reciprocity agreement between most states and several United States territories. The only states that have not signed the NASDTEC are New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, but even if you are from one of those four states, don’t worry. You can still apply for teacher certification. Florida may issue you either a professional or temporary certificate, depending on your qualifications.
As long as you have a valid out of state license, there isn’t really any initial additional steps you will need to perform, although your certification should meet the following requirements:
A certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) can also qualify you for a Florida educator’s certificate.
There are a number of different ways you can pivot into a teaching career in Florida without going back to school for a whole new bachelor’s degree. You can go to a state approved Educator Preparation Institute (EPI). These are usually provided through a Florida college or university. You can get on the job training through a district level Professional Development Certification Program. You can get online certification through the American Board.
Some Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) programs offer online courses; others meet in person. As programs approved by the Florida Department of education, most of these programs have basic variations of the same general components and requirements.
Most EPI Programs Include/Require:
You will need to research and explore the requirements and components of the specific program you are considering.
The department of Education offers a list of approved programs through the companion website, Teach in Florida, which is provided below.
PDCPs are unique in that they are administered by individual school districts. If you want to become a teacher through PDCP, you will need to be hired and approved by a district. You will then participate in a dual mentoring and training program while you are simultaneously teaching, giving you the chance to learn on the job and put your new skills into practice immediately. You will also need to take the relevant professional education tests and the Reading Endorsement Competency #2.
Listed below are the individual districts and links to contact them regarding more information. Starred districts do not currently have a PDCP but are provided here anyway for two reasons:
Employment - because one of the requirements for the issuance of a Florida temporary teaching certification is employment, it is helpful to know the names and contact information of the different school districts in Florida.
Substitute Teaching - The Florida Department of Education does not oversee certification for substitute teachers. Instead, certification standards and qualifications are set and administered at the individual district level. If you are thinking of becoming a substitute teacher as a stepping stone on your way to becoming a full teacher, or if you want to try out teaching as a substitute before making a commitment to participate in a Florida teacher certification program, you will need to follow the guidelines and application process of the district where you plan to be a sub.
Florida is one of the 13 states that allows American Board Certification. The American Board has certification programs in 10 subjects, eight of which are accepted in Florida.
The 8 subjects are:
The purpose of American Board certification is to combat teacher shortages by allowing successful professionals to transition into the classroom.
All you need to qualify for this program is a bachelor’s degree in any area of study and to pass a criminal background check.
The program is very basic; it prepares you to pass two tests, the relevant subject area exam and the Professional Teacher Knowledge Exam (PTK). Tests are administered at local Pearson VUE testing centers.
The program is entirely online and you can enroll in it at any time during the year, as there are no semester schedules. On average, program participants take between 7-10 months to complete it, but you have up to a year from your date of enrollment to do so.
Passing these two tests qualifies you for American Board Certification. You can then use your American Board Certification to apply for a Florida temporary teaching certificate, completing all the steps described above.
If you get American Board Certification before you apply for your temporary teaching certificate in Florida, you will not have to take Florida’s General Knowledge Exam.
Your temporary teaching certificate will allow you to teach in Florida but you will still need to go through a district mentorship and professional development program in order to achieve your full professional certificate.
One important note regarding your temporary certification: only public or charter school teaching positions count for the employment step when you use your American Board certification.
To add subjects or endorsements to your teaching certificate, Florida requires the same basic steps as you followed to get your initial Florida teachers certification, with one important caveat. The Florida Department of Education strongly recommends that you submit your application for additional subject certification before you attempt to fulfill any subject specialization requirements.
Go for it!
Whichever path you choose, the end result will be the same. At the end of the certification process, you will find yourself the proud holder of a state of Florida teaching certificate. And you will have the chance to make a difference in the lives of countless Florida students.
So what are you waiting for? Choose the path that’s right for you and get started!
BLS Search Results. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://data.bls.gov/search/query/results?cx=013738036195919377644%3A6ih0hfrgl50&q=teaching%2Bsalaries
Florida, T. I. (n.d.). Teach In Florida. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from http://www.teachinflorida.com/Recruitment/tabid/195/Default.aspx
Kropp, S. (2013). Employment Projections to 2021 Florida Workforce Estimating Conference(pp. 25-26) (United States, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Labor Market Statistics). Tallahassee, FL: Bureau of Labor Market Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.americanboard.org/florida/
P., & Representative, J. C. (2017, March 07). Florida lags behind nation in teacher pay, Democrat says. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2017/mar/07/janet-cruz/how-much-does-florida-teacher-pay-lag-behind-natio/
Professional DevelopmentCertification Program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.altcertflorida.org/overview/
S. (n.d.). Educator Certification. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from http://www.fldoe.org/teaching/certification/