Should I Become a Teacher in Florida?
Teaching involves the instruction of students by utilizing various methods, including demonstrations, discussions and lectures. Working with energetic students in grades kindergarten through high school may be demanding and dealing with those students who are unmotivated or disrespectful can be frustrating. However, teachers often find their reward in observing their students' progress and accomplishments at the end of the year.
The Florida Department of Education regulates teacher certification in the state. Prospective teachers in Florida are required to earn a bachelor's degree from a university offering a state-approved teacher preparation program. After enrolling in an appropriate undergraduate degree program, completing teacher preparation coursework, passing any required exams (FTCE Exams) and obtaining employment or sufficient teaching experience in a school, individuals can apply for a Florida teaching certificate. In some cases, individuals may follow alternative routes to certification if they meet specific qualifications. The following table contains the main requirements for being a teacher in Florida:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree is required; some teachers have a master's degree|
|Degree Field||Teacher education or subject areas such as English/language arts, mathematics or science|
|Experience||Employment by a school or teaching experience required for certification|
|Certification||State certification required|
|Key Skills||Instructing, speaking, listening, social perceptiveness, classroom management, flexibility|
|Salary||$74,040 (Annual mean salary for a postsecondary teacher)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014), Florida Department of Education, ONet Online.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Education or a Specific Subject Area
Prospective teachers must hold a bachelor's degree in order to meet educational eligibility for teacher certification in the state of Florida. The state's Department of Education (DOE) advises aspiring teachers to decide what subject they want to teach and pursue a degree in that discipline.
Appropriate majors may vary depending on where the student wants to teach. For example, elementary school teachers teach students from kindergarten through grade six in multiple subject areas. Those who plan to teach in an elementary school usually major in elementary education.
Individuals who want to teach older students usually major in the specific subject area that they're planning to teach, such as social sciences, English or mathematics. All students are required to participate in student teaching for certification. Additionally, exams testing general knowledge, subject area mastery and professional mastery are required for individuals desiring certification.
- Become a substitute teacher during college. The state of Florida provides training to its substitute teachers, which helps prepare them to manage a classroom and instruct students. Such preparation and experience in a classroom could help individuals interested in becoming teachers hone the skills needed to be successful, such as communicating effectively. Additionally, being a substitute allows future teachers to learn from experienced educators on an informal basis.
- Volunteer in a setting that involves working with children. Individuals can sign up to be tutors or mentors to children. Future teachers can volunteer to work with children who are in the same age bracket as those they would like to teach in their chosen subject.
Step 2: Get Florida State Certification
After finishing an approved teacher education program, individuals need to apply for teacher certification in the state of Florida. In order to obtain the certificate, candidates need to submit an application to be approved by the Florida Department of Education. After submitting their applications, candidates will receive an Official Statement of the Status of Eligibility, which will classify them as either eligible or not eligible.
Professional and temporary certification options are available. The Professional Certificate is renewable and good for five academic years, and the Temporary Certificate is not renewable and only valid for three academic years. The temporary option also requires securing employment by a state-approved school and having fingerprints on file, while the professional option requires one year of full-time experience as a classroom teacher. Individuals who have achieved all of the requirements for certification will be eligible for the Professional Certificate, and those who still need to finish some requirements will be issued a Temporary Certificate.
Step 3: Earn a Master's Degree
Although only a bachelor's degree is required to be eligible for certification as a teacher in Florida, some teachers choose to return to school for a master's degree to help advance their careers. Many universities in Florida offer graduate degree programs for both certified teachers who wish to continue their education and those with a bachelor's degree who would like to achieve certification.
One option in terms of graduate degree programs for professional educators is the Master of Education (MEd). Individuals with bachelor's degrees who are not certified, but would like to be, can become certified through completing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program.