How to Become a Teacher in Florida

Despite its a reputation for having an older population, Florida is an excellent place to get into teaching. Florida’s vibrant communities include families who value education and promote childhood learning. As one of the few states with no income tax, Florida offers teachers financial benefits as well as the intrinsic rewards of educating the state’s youth.

Here’s a look at how to become a teacher in Florida.

Florida State Overview and Job Climate

Florida has the fourth-largest population in the United States, with 19.3 million residents. Its population — and number of students — is expected to grow even further due to an influx of immigrants and job-seekers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Florida had 4,289 publicly funded schools as of 2011, more than twice the national average. There are hundreds more private schools, although specific stats are unavailable for those institutions. The state has 2.6 million school-aged students, with more than 175,000 public school teachers. This large workforce enables Florida to maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of 15.05-to-1, just under the national average of 15.97-to-1. This translates to engaging work environments for Florida’s teachers and strong opportunities for its students.

Florida’s current job climate is strong, with an employment rate commensurate with the national average as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). The economy is expected to continue to add jobs, with a 2.2 percent growth in the education sector over the past year. This job climate makes it an excellent time to pursue an education degree in brick-and-mortar schools or via online degree programs.

Salary Considerations

The average salary for a Florida public school teacher was $45,723 in 2011. Although this is below the national average, state lawmakers recently committed to providing a significant pay increases for public school teachers, according to the Miami Herald. This step may further strengthen the education climate in Florida and provide higher starting salaries for new teachers.

Basic Teaching Requirements in Florida

Those wondering how to become a teacher in Florida should be prepared for numerous requirements. Applicants for public school teaching jobs in Florida must have successfully completed a bachelor degree program in education. These programs include both classroom education and a teaching practicum component. Acceptable programs are available at numerous colleges and universities in the state; resources are available from the Florida Department of Education.

Upon completing a state-approved teacher-preparation program, you must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE). This examination consists of three tests: Professional Education (which assesses general knowledge of education practices), General Knowledge (testing basic mathematics, reading and writing), and Subject Area Exams, which allow you to demonstrate your competency in one or more specific areas, ranging from French to Technology Education.

Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification

Perhaps you pursued a bachelor degree in another subject, or you’re considering a midlife career change. Fortunately, Florida offers alternative pathways to becoming a certified teacher. If you have a bachelor degree from an accredited institution, you can apply for a Temporary Certificate in a particular subject area. To receive this Temporary Certificate, you must pass a Subject Area Examination in your area of interest. A Temporary Certificate in Florida is non-renewable and lasts only three years. To continue teaching, you must have completed the qualifications for a Professional Certificate, which is renewable.

Individuals who have valid teaching certificates from another state are also eligible to become teachers in Florida. The state offers reciprocity for teachers who have a current, valid standard or Level II certificate offered by any other U.S. state or territory. A valid National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certificate is also acceptable.

Benefits of Teaching in Florida

Aside from its sunny climate, Florida offers numerous benefits for teachers. Salaries are competitive with surrounding states, and employment in Florida’s education sector continues to grow. Certified teachers also have numerous professional-development opportunities offered in the state, allowing them to earn continuing education credits that contribute to the renewal of their teaching certificates. With a rising population of families and children in the state, Florida offers many opportunities for prospective educators.