Florida is home to the nation’s fourth largest school system, supporting almost 3 million students in more than 4,000 public schools. Due to annual increases in student enrollment and the significant number of teacher retirements expected through at least 2016, the Sunshine State has a high demand for teachers for both elementary and secondary schools. Whether you want to become a teacher in Florida‘s busy metropolitan center like Miami, Jacksonville or Orlando, or prefer teaching in a smaller community, you’ll find that teaching opportunities abound.
All Florida teachers must be certified before they can be hired to work in a Florida public school as well as in many private schools. Here are the requirements to get your teaching certificate if you are looking to become a teacher in Florida.
The traditional route to a Florida teaching credential includes completion of a Florida state-approved teacher preparation program at the undergraduate or graduate level. For teaching candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree, an alternative preparation program can be completed. Alternative programs, which provided professional preparation for career-changers and recent college graduates who did not major in education, also must be approved by the state.
For both traditional and alternative teacher programs, the Florida Department of Education provides perquisite coursework requirements for elementary school education and more than 40 different middle school and high school subject areas.
Florida offers two types of teaching credentials: the Temporary Certificate, which is valid for three school years, and the Professional Certificate, which is valid for five years. Teachers who begin with a Temporary Certificate are expected to complete additional requirements and earn a Professional Certificate in order to renew their credential.
The requirements for a Professional Certificate are completion of a teacher preparation program and passing scores on the Professional Education Test, the General Knowledge Test and the Subject Area Examination. Applicants who do not meet all of these requirements may qualify for a Temporary Certificate. Alternative routes to certification are provided for individuals who have completed two full years of college teaching and passed the Subject Area Examination.
Florida recognizes out-of-state teaching certificates and certificates issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Individuals who hold these certificates may apply for a Florida teaching credential. For additional information about Florida teaching credentials, see the Florida Department of Education website, so you can be well on your way to becoming a teacher in Florida.
Each of Florida’s 67 public school districts, which are defined by county borders, is responsible for its own hiring procedures. Teachers must apply directly to the district where they are seeking employment. To help recruit teachers, the Florida Department of Education provides the Teach in Florida website as a central location where prospective teachers can post their resumes, access district websites and search for jobs throughout the state. The website also provides information about teacher certification and professional development.
To assist school districts in recruiting new teachers, the Department of Education also sponsors the Great Florida Teach-In, a job fair held annually in June. The Teach-In provides teachers with a convenient forum for setting up interviews with school districts and charter schools.
Florida also supports Troops to Teachers (TTT), a national program that helps retiring active and reserve military personnel begin post-service careers as teachers. Eligible participants can receive up to $5,000 to offset the cost of education and certification if they agree to teach in a high need school district. They also may receive a $10,000 bonus if they are hired by a high needs school.
The Florida Department of Education reports an ongoing need for teachers in many subject areas and grade levels. Critical areas include reading, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), foreign languages, physical science, mathematics and special education. There is also a critical need for specialists in speech pathology, applied technology and industrial arts.
Florida actively supports new teachers and promotes professional development through the Florida School Leaders (FSL) initiative. On the FSL website, teachers can access a library of over 100 online courses on a wide range of education topics. In addition, Florida schools are encouraged to support professional development at the grassroots level by establishing professional learning communities that foster teacher learning and growth.
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