Teaching Degrees in Florida

Florida's officials look for ways to improve life for the state's teachers. Some of their ideas include extra pay for educators working in underserved neighborhoods, loan forgiveness options, and adding to funds through the state's Best and Brightest program -- which grants bonuses up to $10,000. Add this to the shortage of teachers in the state, and Florida presents plenty of job opportunities to incoming teachers.

Florida is home to one of the largest educational systems in the United States. Educators often move out of the state or retire, creating vacancies. At the moment, more leave the profession than enter it in Florida, and 30% fewer students enroll in teaching colleges in Florida today than in 2010.

30% fewer students enroll in teaching colleges in Florida today than in 2010.

These numbers make it easier and more attractive to work in the state. Future educators will find some of the nation's best online teaching degrees in Florida, all built to accommodate the schedules of working teachers. The state harbors several leaders in web-based education, many of which enjoy pre-approval by the state's Department of Education to prepare educators for the classroom. Teachers in Florida earn certification with relative ease, and with a license in hand, you can begin teaching immediately.

Every state requires that teachers earn some sort of certification to ensure that their students receive the highest-quality education. Every state sets its own requirements for licensure, with some proving more difficult than others. Florida makes getting your teaching certificate relatively easy. The state streamlined the process to allow teachers to earn only a temporary certification prior to stepping into the classroom. The state Department of Education also developed a helpful website that outlines all of the necessary steps.

Florida makes it easier than many other states for teachers from outside of the region to work in the Sunshine State through its reciprocity program. Educators take classroom jobs in Florida on a temporary certificate using their previous state license as proof of mastery of knowledge. They can also use their old credentials to gain a professional certificate on the condition that the credentials are valid, match the subject teaching area, and required the same number of credits to earn. The state will also recognize a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Florida's reciprocity program, which includes agreements with most other states, makes it easier to take a job in another location if you decide to move.

Educational Requirements

Florida sets high standards for educators. Prospective teachers must hold a bachelor's degree to meet teaching requirements in Florida. Students with only an associate degree are not eligible. Some administrative positions require a master's. Florida developed an Initial Teacher Preparation Program to serve as a guide to new applicants and to maintain a list of state-approved colleges that meet all of the requirements for teaching in Florida. The Department of Education's comprehensive website offers a variety of "pathways and routes" to university program graduates and career changers.

Most online teacher programs take at least three years to complete, though some students pursue a master's-in-five-type program.

Students in Florida do not need to major in education or teaching. They need only complete a traditional 120-credit bachelor's degree to qualify. Many aspiring teachers do elect to major in education or early childhood education, but students step into the classroom or matriculate into a master's program from many different backgrounds. Most online teacher programs take at least three years to complete, though some students pursue a master's-in-five-type program.

Because students can enter the profession from any undergraduate background, they do not need to meet any student teaching requirements to get their temporary teaching certificate. The state does, however, recommend that students pursue a degree in a "certificate subject" area. The state recognizes these majors as potential pathways to teaching. Students, for example, can major in physics to teach science. Students select one among dozens of options, including elementary, middle school, and secondary education, the sciences, the humanities, art, languages, and physical education.

Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Florida

Associate Degree in Teaching

Child Growth and Development This course looks at human physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development from conception to second grade. Students learn how growth impacts learning and study the environmental and genetic traits that affect childhood.
Composition Every undergraduate student completes a course in basic, college-level writing.
Psychology Aspiring teachers learn why people behave the way they do in this common course. Subjects covered include learning and development, personality issues, individual perception, emotions, abnormal behavior, and psychotherapy.

Bachelors Degree in Teaching

Children's Literature A study of the history and importance of children's and young adult books, this course features classic tales and new titles alike. Students explore themes, traditions, and instructional ideas.
Science Foundations Designed for future science teachers and general education classroom instructors, this course looks at the history, philosophy, and methods of scientific education in the United States.
Field Experience Students must complete a practicum by teaching in classrooms under the guidance of a teacher/mentor. They help plan curriculum and spend time one-on-one with children.

Masters Degree in Teaching

Theories and Trends in Education Students get an overview of human development and how we learn, including social, cognitive, and behavioral theories. They then study the impact of these ideas on the classroom.
Methods and Management of Teaching How do you run a classroom? Students learn the best practices in instructional pedagogy as outlined by the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices.
Internship Students spend a semester working in classrooms, acquiring the teaching hours needed to graduate. They teach under the guidance of a mentor and gain exposure to all facets of the teaching profession.

Certification & Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in Florida

Florida's Department of Education offers two certification types: temporary and professional. Temporary certificates work for three years before they expire and holders cannot renew them. Professional licenses stay valid for five years, and teachers can renew them. The state designed its temporary licensure to allow students time to complete all of the requirements for the professional license.

Both licenses require prospective teachers to hold a bachelor's degree. Teachers must also demonstrate a mastery of knowledge in a specific subject area and in general knowledge. They can do this by passing the state's general knowledge test, passing the GRE with acceptable scores, holding a teaching certificate from another state, or completing two semesters of full-time college teaching. After applicants meet these requirements, and clear a background check, they may enter the classroom on a temporary certificate.

To earn professional certification, students must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE). The test features multiple-choice sections that assesses reading, writing, grammar, and mathematics skills. Prospective teachers must also demonstrate mastery in one of 42 subject areas, pass the general knowledge section of the exam, and pass the Florida Professional Education Test -- the final portion of the FTCE.

Teaching certificates in Alabama are valid for five years.

The Bureau of Educator Certification oversees the required tests, each of which takes two hours or more to complete. Examinees sometimes take the required exams in more than one sitting and fees vary. The state runs a website with all of the information needed to take the FTCE, including registration, study guides, and an FAQ section.

After passing the exams, aspiring teachers must complete the certification packet, submit an official statement of eligibility, find employment in a Florida school, and submit fingerprints for certification.

Florida boasts dozens of teaching degree programs, both on campus and online. The sheer number can make it difficult to pick the right one. Each factor involved with selecting the right program makes it challenging, but making sure that a program meets your overall certification goals covers many of the bases. Florida makes it easy to research this by providing a list of state-approved educator preparation programs.

Just as there are many different types of teachers in schools -- math, science, English, language, kindergarten -- teaching degrees in Florida take many forms. Make sure you explore the specializations available at the universities that interest you. Even individual programs offer a wealth of unique concentrations. Determine whether these focus areas add any time on to the length of the degree. Most baccalaureate programs require four years, and master's degrees typically require two or three.

You should also weigh the rewards of a degree against the money you'll need to spend to achieve it. You certainly don't want to take on overwhelming debt in pursuit of a degree.

The location of the school also matters. Many undergraduate and master's programs require visits to campus, even for online learners, as well as field practicums. Ensure that you can meet the requirements of whatever university you attend. Students often elect to enroll close to home to make this easier.

Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Florida?

Florida makes no distinction between on-campus and online degrees. Both types of programs make it onto the state-approved list. Online education often appeals to teachers, especially at the graduate level, because they can continue to work in the classroom while they study. Many teaching programs in Florida schedule their programs to accommodate working educators.

Because the Florida considers online programs equal to their on-campus counterparts, there is no real difference between the two in terms of meeting the state's certification requirements. The major consideration lies with ensuring that students fulfill the practicum components of the Florida education institute. Most teaching degrees include some form of student teaching, and many universities allow internet-based learners to work in their own communities. Students should prioritize programs that offer a practicum.

Finally, make sure that the online program you choose carries accreditation from a reputable agency. Florida boasts several universities accredited by prestigious teacher-accreditation agencies like the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). These agencies only rate programs that meet the highest educational standards.

Directory of Teaching Schools in Florida

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Many students struggle to pay for their degree. Online programs tend to cost less, though they can still quickly deplete a savings account. Luckily, schools offer a variety of ways to pay for your degree, including loans, scholarships, grants, and other programs.

Every college student should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The process helps you find out how much aid you qualify for and signals to prospective colleges that you plan to continue your education. Loans are relatively easy to find these days; just be sure to not take on more debt than can repay. Some lenders bank on college students getting in over their heads and charge exorbitant fees down the road. Take caution before you sign a contract.

You should also look into scholarships and grants at the local, state, and national level. Many students skip this step, assuming they fail to qualify. But do your research. Thousands of possibilities from a variety of foundations give you good chances. Applicants often receive help where they never expected it.

Loan Forgiveness for Florida Teachers

Teachers often find more funds available to them than many other students. Many states and school districts offer loan forgiveness and tuition reimbursement programs in an effort to attract educators. The federal government does as well. These arrangements typically exchange education funding for some sort of teaching commitment, usually working in underserved districts. Students will see a portion of their loans disappear if they agree to teach in areas of critical need.

The U.S. Department of Education, for example, sponsors a Teacher Loan Forgiveness program that offers up to $17,500 of forgiveness to educators willing to commit to five years of teaching in a low-income school. The state of Florida works with the federal government to oversee that arrangement in local school districts. Schools in need of help apply through the Florida Department of Education, which enters them into a registry. Students can find the list of eligible Florida school districts at the U.S. Department of Education's website.

Federal Teacher Education Assistance and Higher Education Grants (TEACH) enable teachers to get up to $4,000 worth of funds if they agree to teach certain subjects in certain locations for four years. Fields currently in need include bilingual education, foreign languages, math, science, special education, and reading specialists.

Scholarships for Florida Teaching Students

Schools make many scholarships available to students. The list below includes several scholarships available to students across Florida.

Minority Teacher Education Scholars Program $4,000

Who Can Apply: Minority students who live in Florida and enrolled in an approved education program may apply. They must maintain a 2.5 GPA and agree to teach one year in a Florida public school for every year they receive help. View Scholarship

Tuition Support Programs for Exceptional Student Educators Varies

Who Can Apply: These awards go to special needs teachers already working in Florida. The Florida Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services offers grants to paraprofessional educators entering bachelor's programs in special education, as well as autism and speech/language instructors entering master's programs. Applicants must agree to teach a year in public schools for every six hours of funding they receive. View Scholarship

TEACH Early Childhood Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: Any Florida resident teacher working more than 20 hours per week in a pre-K childcare facility seeking an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree may apply. View Scholarship

Florida Teachers of Tomorrow Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: Working paraprofessional educators and substitute teachers are eligible for a full scholarship toward their career as full-time classroom teachers through the Florida Teachers program. View Scholarship

Florida Best and Brightest Teachers Scholarship Program $800 to $6,000

Who Can Apply: The Florida state legislature funds three scholarships to outstanding teachers based on their SAT scores. School districts forward their recommendations. View Scholarship

Bright Futures Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: These lottery-funded grants pay full tuition and fees to a public university for academically-exceptional, Florida-high school graduates. Only available at the undergraduate level. View Scholarship
Location Employment Annual Mean Wage
Florida 417,640 $49,370
United States 8,636,430 $54,520

Source: BLS

Florida ranks below most states in salary for teachers. However, the job outlook bodes well. Because of the growing shortage of teachers, state officials continue to explore ways to make the profession more attractive to the next generation.

Pay rates in some school districts serve teachers better than rates in other districts. Many suburban and urban areas pay teachers salaries much closer to the national average. Some elementary teachers in Port Saint Lucie, for example, make $53,780. Some teachers with high-demand skill sets in Florida, such as graduates from special education schools in Miami, often earn more than the national average. In the South Florida metro area, middle school special education teachers can earn more than $67,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average Annual Salary by Teaching Level in Florida
Preschool Teachers $27,480
Kindergarten Teachers $46,410
Elementary School Teachers $47,610
Middle School Teachers $48,840
Secondary School Teachers $51,160

Source: BLS

  • The Florida Department of Education Florida's official state department of education boasts a wealth of useful information for prospective teachers, including a list of state-approved colleges in Florida, certification requirement information, scholarship information, and job listings. It features information on every level of education in the state, from pre-K to doctoral programs -- and includes tips and help for those in specialized fields.
  • Teach in Florida A site maintained by the state's Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development, and Staffing, Teach in Florida gives teachers access to a broad range of useful information. Split into the five sections of recruitment, recognition, preparation, professional development, and performance standards, the site offers several resources for career entrance and advancement.
  • Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) FATE advocates on behalf of teachers and learners. The Orlando-based organization hosts conferences and regional meetings, publishes online journals, posts open jobs, and offers other professional resources.
  • Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (FACTE) Set in Lakewood, FACTE improves the level of professionalism in education. It hosts conferences and provides an online forum for discussion and video resources. It also advocates for policy that will improve the education teachers receive.
  • Florida Education Association As the teacher's union in Florida, the FEA represents teachers statewide, advocating for better working conditions. The member organization provides a wealth of resources to teachers, including professional development, legal help, publications with the latest on the profession, and a variety of professional services.
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