How to Become a Special Needs Teacher in Florida

Those who want to become special needs teachers in Florida will need to earn their education degree with a special needs focus, sit for Florida certification exams, and become certified. Keep reading to find out the details.,

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Job openings for special needs teachers nationwide are expected to grow eight percent by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number may vary somewhat depending on which level you want to teach. Here, we'll look at the ways you can become certified as a special needs teacher in Florida.

Requirements for Florida Special Needs Teachers

Average Salary for Special Needs Teachers in Florida (2016)* $51,620 (Elementary School), $51,320 (Middle School), $50,450 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Required Field Education with a focus in special needs
Testing Requirements FTCE: General Knowledge, Professional Education, Subject Area (Exceptional Student Education K-12)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Your Education

There are several routes that future teachers can take to earn Florida professional certification. The traditional route includes a Florida-approved education degree from an in-state college. Anyone who attends a school out of state will have to follow different protocol. You must complete at least a bachelor's degree in order to begin certification to become a special needs teacher in Florida, also known as a teacher of exceptional students. For those who want to to work with speech-language impaired children, a master's degree with a major is speech language pathology typically must be earned. Many colleges offer a focus in special education. Some of the course topics you may encounter during the exceptional student education major are positive behavior support, instructional strategies for students with emotional/intellectual/learning disabilities, writing an IEP, and working with developmental disabilities. Aspiring teachers will also complete an internship and practicum in the classroom to gain experience in the educational setting with students.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
  • Teaching Special Education - Autism
  • Teaching Special Education - Developmentally Delayed
  • Teaching Special Education - Emotional Disturbances
  • Teaching Special Education - Hearing Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Learning Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Mental Retardation
  • Teaching Special Education - Multiple Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Orthopedic Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Speech Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Teaching Special Education - Vision Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education, Children and Young Children

Step 2: Complete the Testing Requirements

In Florida, future teachers must complete the Florida Teacher Certification Exams (FTCE). The FTCE is broken down into three areas.

  1. General knowledge
  2. Professional education
  3. Subject area (this is where you will focus on the exceptional student education)

The general knowledge exam covers math, language, reading and a written essay. It is the longest of the three areas at 245 minutes long. A total of 125 multiple-choice questions and one essay will be completed during this time. This may be taken as one test or in separate sections. The professional education exam contains 120 multiple-choice questions, and you are allotted 2.5 hours for completion. The subject area exam for exceptional student education also has 120 multiple choice questions to be completed in 2.5 hours.

Step 3: Get Certified

Your application must include a completed CG-10 application, a processing fee, and official transcripts. After this package has been evaluated and approved, you'll be given an Official Statement of Eligibility (OSE). This OSE is part of the Florida Temporary Certificate, which is given until you meet the additional requirements to receive the professional certificate. All items must be completed on that OSE before the expiration date. You must find a teaching job in Florida and get fingerprinted. If your fingerprints are approved, you'll be issued a 5-year professional certificate within 30 days. If fingerprints are smudged or a hidden criminal record is found, you will receive notice.

Teacher Certification Sources

Resources are available to help you prepare for testing. Future special needs teachers in Florida can check out the following links for guidance.

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