How To Become a Teacher in Florida
Nicknamed the “Sunshine State,” Florida depends on tourism, agriculture, and transportation to bolster its economy, the fourth-largest in the United States. Additionally, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) emphasizes technical training through programs like the Workforce Education Initiative and the Family Empowerment Scholarship.
Florida offers traditional and online teaching degrees and diverse educator career opportunities. Many Floridians prefer distance learning: National Center for Education Statistics data shows that nearly 20% of college students in Florida enroll in exclusively online courses. Many schools promote flexible enrollment options and accelerated completion times, both of which may reduce tuition costs. Most accredited teaching degrees in Florida include a state-required teacher training program.
Featured Online Programs
While Florida teachers require a bachelor’s degree to qualify for state certification, they may pursue an alternative path to licensure. Floridians can achieve one of many possible combinations of education, exams, and experience toward obtaining a temporary or professional teaching certificate. Many teachers also work in critical shortage areas.
The following guide details how to become a teacher in Florida.
Florida at a Glance
|Per Capita Income||$31,359|
|Full-Time Equivalent Teachers||164,398.70|
|Number of Public School Districts||76|
|Number of Public K-12 Schools||234|
|Number of Higher Learning Institutions||42|
Average Annual Temperature: 70.7 ℉
Annual Precipitation: 54.5 inches
|Major Sports Teams|
Top Florida Schools for Teaching
- Nova Southeastern University
- Saint Leo University
- University of Central Florida
- Florida International University
- The Baptist College of Florida
- The University of West Florida
- Florida Gateway College
- Florida State College at Jacksonville
- Florida State College at Jacksonville
- Northwest Florida State College
Why Go to College for Education in Florida?
Students pursuing teaching in Florida enjoy numerous online learning options. The percentage of Floridians enrolled at least partially in distance-based higher education programs (44.3%) exceeds the national figure of 34.7%, as shown below. Specifically, Florida exceeds the national data for students enrolled both exclusively and partially in online programs.
While the state-required teacher training program includes an in-person component, online programs allow students to complete their training close to home. Many Florida programs also offer in-state tuition rates, regardless of students’ residency status. Learners can pursue a variety of specializations, especially in elementary education, the state’s largest educator group.
Tuition rates in Florida fall below the national average for nearly every type of school. Out-of-state students enrolled at public, four-year institutions in Florida enjoy especially significant cost savings of more than $7,000, compared to the average national cost for these schools. Online programs with in-state tuition rates can often further reduce tuition costs at such schools.
With incentives including salary bonuses and alternative licensure pathways, the state promotes diverse career opportunities for teaching in Florida. Florida teachers guided students to an 86% high school graduate rate in 2017-18, exceeding the national rate.
Postsecondary Education Statistics for Florida
Students in Florida can choose from a host of institutions to pursue their degrees — the state houses 160 four-year schools. Though per-student appropriations do not meet national averages, Florida does match the national average percentage of tax revenue allocated to higher education at 5.8%.
|FL Data||National Data|
|Number of Four-Year Colleges||160||3,004|
|Number of Two-Year Colleges||69||1,579|
|Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education||44.3%||34.7%|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student||$7,542||$8,196|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||5.8%||5.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree||9.8%||8.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree||18.5%||19.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher||10.6%||12.1%|
Accreditation for Florida Schools
Students researching how to become a teacher in Florida should only consider accredited schools. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation through an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Regional accreditation is usually reserved for nonprofit institutions. Typically, students planning to transfer schools or pursue graduate studies must have completed coursework at regionally accredited institutions. Florida schools receive regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Some education programs in Florida also receive programmatic accreditation through an agency such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Programmatic accreditation demonstrates that an education program meets field standards for professional certification and experience.
Considerations for a Teaching Degree in Florida
There are a host of factors aspiring teachers in Florida must consider as they choose a program. Students should investigate online versus campus-based degrees, what grade or subject they want to teach, and tuition costs.
Teaching Degree Levels
While teaching certification in Florida requires a bachelor’s degree, students can pursue a teaching degree at any level on the path toward a lucrative career. Florida schools offer diverse specializations in particular grade levels and teaching subjects, preparing graduates for licensure in their area of expertise.
Associate Degree in TeachingStudents working toward teaching in Florida with a two-year associate degree can become early childhood educators in birth through pre-K settings. Many graduates of an associate program go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree, including a state-approved teacher education program, which is the minimum education requirement for K-12 teachers in all public and some private Florida schools.
Bachelor’s Degree in TeachingStudents learning how to become a teacher in Florida must begin with a bachelor’s degree, the minimum education requirement for certification. Students must also choose a teaching grade and/or subject as their major. State-approved teaching degrees at this level in Florida include a teacher education program, which qualifies graduates for the teacher certification examination.
Master’s Degree in TeachingStudents must earn a master’s degree to pursue jobs in education administration or school counseling in Florida. Enrollees may also pursue a master’s in a specialization, such as K-12 reading or speech-language impaired, or particular teaching subject or grade level. Schools may offer a master of education (M.Ed.) or a master of arts in teaching (MAT).
Ph.D. in TeachingTeaching in Florida in a postsecondary school typically requires a doctorate. A terminal degree in education, such as an Ed.D., can prepare students for jobs in educational research and policy or education administration. While completion times vary by program, a Ph.D. or Ed.D. usually takes 4-6 years to complete.
What Grade or Subject Will You Want To Teach?
Aspiring teachers in Florida should first decide which grade and/or subject they want to teach. Since the state requires teachers to take the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) or Florida Educational Leadership Examination in a particular subject, grade, or specialization, teachers can pursue certification aligned with their individual career goals.
On-Campus Versus Online Program Options
Students interested in teaching in Florida can complete their degree in a variety of formats. Many schools offer programs to accommodate learners in all locations and specializations. Most Florida schools enable students to choose whether to attend classes on campus, online, or through hybrid study.
|Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses||Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses||Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses|
|United States Students||16.3%||18.4%||65.3%|
Paying for Your Teaching Degree
Cost is a major concern for students learning how to become a teacher in Florida. Most Floridians require financial aid to complete their teaching degree. Most schools require college students to submit the FAFSA with their admissions application to determine financial aid eligibility. Options may include scholarships, grants, fellowships, federal funding, and loans.
As shown below, most types of schools in Florida offer lower tuition costs than the national average. Public, four-year institutions in Florida offer a savings of more than $7,400 for out-of-state students when compared to national tuition rates. Florida offers financial aid through TEACH grants, loan forgiveness for teachers, and programs like the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers. Learn more at the pages linked below.
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$4,455||$9,037|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$18,241||$25,657|
|Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)||$25,531||$30,731|
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$2,506||$3,243|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$9,111||$7,971|
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Online learning offers many benefits and accommodations, especially for nonresident students. Many Floridians seek out schools offering affordable online programs with low tuition rates for learners who may reside out of state. Schools such as the University of South Florida and Broward College offer minimal per-credit tuition increases for nonresidents enrolled in online programs.
Additionally, Florida participates in a reciprocity agreement with surrounding states through the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), under the broader Midwestern Higher Education Compact. SREB represents schools in 16 of the southernmost United States, enabling nonresident students attending participating schools to pay discounted tuition rates.
Florida’s Cost of Living
Students researching the cost of teaching programs in Florida should also consider the cost of living, which significantly impacts where a student decides to earn their degree. Florida maintains a lower cost of living (97.9) than the national average of 100. Other factors that contribute to Florida’s low cost of living include housing and transportation costs, both below the national average at 95.4 and 96.7, respectively.
Other School Selection Criteria
The process of choosing a school can involve a long list of critical factors. Key considerations might include:
Teaching in Florida
Florida ranked third in the nation for education in 2018, according to U.S. News & World Report. Florida also ranked No.1 for higher education in 2018. The Nation’s Report Card shows fourth-graders exceeding the national average in subjects including science, reading, and writing, and especially math, for multiple consecutive years. These achievements can be attributed to Florida’s highly qualified elementary school teachers.
Florida serves more than 4,200 public schools and employs more than 164,000 full-time teachers. The state enrolls more than 2.5 million students, with an emphasis on K-12 reading programs, career and technical training for adult learners, and accommodations for students with visual or hearing impairments or learning disabilities.
Partnered with the FDOE, the Florida Education Foundation focuses on developing the teacher workforce and improving education programs statewide. Additionally, the FDOE hosts its own Just for Teachers community online, providing resources such as a classroom supply assistance program, field trips, and teacher discounts.
How to Become a Teacher in Florida
Prospective teachers in Florida must navigate a series of certification options. Teachers may pursue a direct path to professional certification or obtain a temporary certificate before applying for full professional credentials. Teachers with out-of-state certification must hold credentials in the same subject and grade level as a Florida professional teaching certificate, or hold a certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Most students complete a bachelor’s degree on the direct path to professional certification in Florida. These students must complete a state-approved initial teacher preparation program. Additionally, learners must take and pass the FTCE in three parts: general knowledge, professional preparation and education competency, and the subject test in a teaching subject.
Florida’s initial teacher preparation programs include field hours teaching in a statewide elementary or secondary school. These field hours are typically embedded within a bachelor’s or master’s teaching curriculum. Students who have not yet completed the initial teacher preparation program must pursue employment at a state-approved school to qualify for a temporary certificate.
Steps to Becoming a Texas Teacher
- Step 1: Earn at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as special education; early childhood education; or elementary, middle school, or secondary education. The degree must be accredited and include a state-approved teacher preparation program.
- Step 2: Apply for certification through the Online Licensing Service site and receive an official statement of eligibility, which determines next steps. Students who have already taken the FTCE should skip to Step 4.
- Step 3: Take and pass the FTCE, in three sections:
- General Knowledge Test
- Professional Education Test
- Subject Area Examinations, including but not limited to:
- Preschool education, birth to age four
- PreK-3 in various subjects including developmental knowledge, language arts and reading, or math
- Elementary education (K-6) in various subjects including math, science, or social science
- Middle grades (5-9) in various subjects including English, social science, or general science
- English K-12
- Exceptional student education K-12
- Step 4: Pursue employment in a state-approved public or private elementary or secondary school in Florida
- Step 5: Submit fingerprints for a criminal background screening
Education Requirements for Florida Teachers
The first step toward teaching in Florida is earning a degree. Schools offer education degrees at all levels and in various specializations, grades, and teaching subjects. The average salary of teachers in Florida correlates with a candidate’s education and experience.
As the minimum requirement for teaching certification in Florida, a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. Aspiring teachers who hold out-of-state certification or have not yet completed a state-approved teacher preparation program may pursue an alternative path to licensure through the FDOE. The state also provides pathways to upgrade from a temporary to professional teaching certificate.
To earn an official statement of eligibility from the FDOE, students must complete an accredited bachelor’s degree and a teacher training program, which includes student-teaching in the classroom. Additionally, learners must pass all three sections of the FTCE. Candidates deemed eligible for temporary or professional certification must secure employment teaching in Florida at a state-approved public or private school.
Teacher Certification and Licensure in Florida
Florida teachers in public K-12 schools must hold state-issued teaching certification. Teachers in private schools and alternative learning institutions are not typically required to maintain the same professional certification. Florida educators must pass the FTCE, which includes a general knowledge assessment, a professional education assessment, and a subject test in one of 39 subject areas.
While the majority of tests and subtests include multiple-choice questions, some sections include written or oral components. The general knowledge test requires an essay, and the middle and secondary English subject tests assess written performance. Some foreign language subject tests in French, Spanish, and German also include an oral interview.
Florida may waive the registration and exam fees for qualifying military students and veterans. The general knowledge test (including fees for taking all four subtests at once) costs $130, or students can pay individually for one, two, or three subtests. The professional education test costs $150. Each subject test costs $150. These figures reflect “first attempt” costs. Fees to retake exams vary by type.
The subtests take between 40 and 100 minutes to complete. The professional education assessment lasts for 150 minutes. Individual subject test times vary from 60 to 150 minutes.
Student Teaching and Other Required Experience
Becoming a certified teacher in Florida requires field practicums and student-teaching experience. State-approved bachelor’s and master’s degrees include field experience as part of Florida’s initial teacher preparation programs. Florida requires teachers in public pre-K-12 schools to complete a student-teaching experience to obtain teaching certification.
Bachelor’s degrees in education may also include field practicums. Similar to a student-teaching experience, practicum placement is tailored to a student’s teaching specialization. Graduates of a bachelor’s or master’s degree may pursue a standalone teacher preparation program through a state-approved educator preparation institute. Florida also offers professional development certification programs.
Teachers may pursue temporary or professional certification in Florida. Graduates of a bachelor’s degree who have not yet completed a teacher preparation program or passed all three sections of the FTCE may apply for a temporary teaching certificate. Students must initialize employment in a state-approved public or private school that includes a teacher preparation program to qualify for temporary certification.
Temporary certification is nonrenewable and lasts for three years. Students qualify for professional certification, renewable every five years, once they complete a teacher preparation program, pass the FTCE, and are employed full time teaching in Florida.
Alternative Paths to Becoming a Florida Teacher
Most Floridians pursue a direct path to professional certification by earning a bachelor’s degree that includes a teacher preparation program. Others seek an alternative path toward temporary or professional licensure. FDOE offers a variety of unique routes to certification for teachers at all levels of education and experience.
Besides earning a bachelor’s degree, students can complete a baccalaureate program through a state-approved educator preparation institute. Students may also complete a minimum of 15 college credits in education or at least two semesters of college teaching experience to qualify for a professional certificate. These candidates must also complete a professional education competence program while employed at an approved Florida school and pass all three sections of the FTCE.
Candidates may also choose the professional training option or professional development certification program in a state-approved public school district to qualify for professional certification. Additionally, Florida honors certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. Out-of-state teachers must complete a teacher preparation program through an accredited school in the U.S. or hold a valid standard teaching certificate in another state.
Finding a Teaching Job in Florida
Students can pursue teaching in Florida through a variety of career-building resources. Many job seekers prefer conducting their professional networking online, while others attend local events like job fairs and annual teacher conferences. Beyond searching for lucrative teaching jobs in Florida, aspiring teachers should also seek out mentor relationships and lifelong education opportunities. The following resources frequently update their teaching in Florida jobs:
- The Great Florida Teach-InThe FDOE hosts this annual job fair for certified teachers through a partnership with the state’s Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development, and Retention.
- Teachers-Teachers.comTailored to job-seekers and employers in education, this website serves more than 4,000 districts as a subsidiary of Frontline Education, LLC.
- Florida Virtual School JobsFLVS serves more than 200,000 K-12 students nationwide through virtual learning programs and offers career opportunities in Florida at its home office location and virtual classroom.
- Southern Teachers AgencySouthern Teachers helps recruit teachers for all districts and school types across Florida. The site posts available jobs online and hosts job fairs in person throughout the year.
Notable Florida Schools and Districts
The fourth-largest school district in the U.S., M-DCPS includes 476 schools and serves more than 350,000 students. More than 17,700 teachers work in this district. M-DCPS earned an “A” rating for more two consecutive years, home to 13 of Florida’s top 20 schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. M-DCPS’ public schools boast a graduation rate of 89%.
BCPS is the nation’s sixth-largest school district and the second-largest in Florida. The district boasts a 95.1% graduation rate. BCPS includes 241 schools and technical colleges and 89 charter schools. The district employs more than 14,000 instructors and enrolls more than 260,000 students.
The seventh-largest school district in the U.S., HCPS serves more than 224,000 students and occupies more than 235 schools and instructional sites. The district employs more than 24,000 teachers and staff. HCPS’ graduation rate has increased for five consecutive years, setting an all-time record at 85.8% in 2018.
Florida Teacher Salaries
Teachers in Florida earn variable salaries depending on the grade and subject they teach. While the average salary of teachers in Florida does not meet the national occupational average, the state accommodates teachers at all levels of education and experience. Special educators in kindergarten and elementary schools earn the highest Florida teacher salary, as shown below.
Kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers making $62,950 also come closest to meeting the national average for this occupation ($64,420). Special education middle school teachers represent the second-highest earners among educators in Florida, earning $58,400, followed by secondary school teachers, who earn $57,880.
The table below also illustrates the potential for teachers with an advanced degree and extensive experience to earn more than bachelor’s degree-holders. While teachers with a bachelor’s degree and minimal experience earn a base salary of $39,670, Florida teacher salary can increase to $59,050 for educators with a master’s degree and 20+ years of experience. Variable districts, subjects, and shortage areas also affect Florida teacher salaries.
Florida Teacher Salaries
Average Annual Salary of Public Elementary and Secondary Teachers, 2018-19
Annual Mean Wage by Teaching Level in Florida, 2019
|Special Education, Preschool||$50,720||$67,060|
|Elementary School Teachers||$56,280||$63,930|
|Special Education, Kindergarten and Elementary School||$57,360||$64,420|
|Middle School Teachers||$56,290||$63,550|
|Special Education, Middle School||$56,720||$65,740|
|Secondary School Teachers||$58,000||$65,930|
|Special Education, Secondary School||$57,890||$65,710|
Annual Base Salary of Elementary and Secondary Teachers by Education and Experience, 2017-18
|0-2 Years||3-5 Years||6-10 Years||11-20 Years||20+ Years||Average, All Levels|
|FL Teachers with a Bachelor’s||$39,670||$41,720||$42,930||$46,410||$55,850||$45,310|
|National Average of Teachers with a Bachelor’s||$42,440||$44,490||$46,990||$54,380||$60,770||$49,890|
|FL Teachers with a Master’s||$42,730||$44,220||$48,630||$59,050||$49,710|
|National Average of Teachers with a Master’s||$51,050||$56,140||$65,700||$73,430||$63,120|
Florida Trends in Education
Statistics Surrounding Florida Schools and Education
|Total Students, All Grades||2,846,444, 2018-19||56.4 million, Fall 2020|
|Pupil/Teacher Ratio||17.31, 2018-19||16.0, 2016|
|Per-Pupil Expenditure, 2018||$9,663||$12,654|
|Change in Public Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment, 2017-2020||+16%||+7%|
|Projected Change in Public Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment, 2017-2029||+10%||+1%|
|Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) for Public High School Students, 2017-18||86%||85%|
|Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Teachers||164,398.70, 2018-19||3.7 million, Fall 2020|
|Percentage of Teachers 55 or Older, 2017-2018||19.5%||16.5%|
Number of Public Schools by Level, 2017-18
FL Employment by Teaching Level
|Teaching Level||FL Employment||FL Projected Growth, 2018-28||National Employment||National Projected Growth, 2018-28|
|Special Education, Preschool||1,220||+8.2%||24,000||+7.9%|
|Elementary School Teachers||74,260||+7.2%||1,434,400||+3.3%|
|Special Education, Kindergarten and Elementary School||4,920||+7.3%||184,300||+2.8%|
|Middle School Teachers||29,520||+7.1%||615,700||+3.5%|
|Special Education, Middle School||2,440||+7%||86,800||+2.8%|
|Secondary School Teachers||47,110||+7.1%||1,072,500||+3.6%|
|Special Education, Secondary School||4,580||+6.8%||142,000||+3.0%|
Florida enrolls nearly three million students and employs a workforce of more than 164,000 teachers, concentrated primarily in elementary schools. The state reported a 16% increase in elementary and secondary school enrollment from 2017 to 2020, higher than the national average of 7%. Florida boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio (17.31), only slightly above the national ratio of 16-to-1.
Florida’s highly qualified teachers led high school students to achieve an adjusted cohort graduation rate of 86% in 2017-18, exceeding the national average by 1%. While elementary school teachers represent the largest employment group of educators at more than 74,000, preschool teachers project the highest job growth (12.3%) in the state from 2018-28. Teacher assistants project both the second-largest employment and the second-highest job growth in Florida during the same period.
While special educators, especially in kindergarten and elementary schools, earn some of the highest Florida teacher salaries, the state houses very few special education facilities compared to the national data. The state does not operate any one-teacher schools such as those dedicated to special education or gifted learners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Florida have online teaching programs?
How do you get a teaching license in Florida?
Do you need a master’s to teach in Florida?
Can you be a teacher without a teaching degree in Florida?
How much do teachers make in Florida?
Is there a teacher shortage in Florida?
Professional Teaching Organizations in Florida
- Florida Education AssociationFEA serves 145,000 members, including teachers in K-12 and postsecondary schools and retired educators in Florida. FEA recognizes that the majority of its members spend their own income on supplies and offers benefits including discounts of up to 50% at more than 350,000 merchants nationwide.
- Professional Educators Network of FloridaPEN focuses on providing liability insurance and employment rights protection to Florida teachers. Members enjoy long-term healthcare and life insurance, dental and vision insurance, and tax-deferred annuity options. PEN also offers multiple discounts on consumer goods and services.
- Association of American EducatorsThe largest of its kind with members in all 50 states, AAE is a non-union professional teachers’ organization. AAE promotes best teaching practices with an emphasis on continuing education and professional networking. Benefits include insurance and employment rights coverage, and access to teaching scholarships and grants.
- Florida Association of Teacher EducatorsAs Florida’s state branch of the Association of Teacher Educators, FATE’s membership spans the entire state, divided into five regional units. FATE distributes exclusive publications, grants awards to teaching scholars, and hosts an annual conference for members in Florida.
Teaching Programs in Florida
The following ranks the best schools for teaching in Florida, including only accredited programs. Students should check the IPEDS site (updated annually) to confirm that their school holds national or regional accreditation. In addition to maintaining accreditation institution-wide, the following schools offer programs that include career training for Florida teachers.