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How to Get a Teaching License in Florida

The first step—after earning your degree—to becoming a teacher in Florida is to earn certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your level of education and experience.

Our guide can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career. You may be just beginning your journey and need to know about the certification process in Florida. Or maybe you want to learn how to specialize with an advanced credential or endorsement, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Florida from another state.

You’ll find all that information and more right here. The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in Florida state.

Meet the Minimum Education Requirements

All licensure candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, to earn your professional certification you must complete a professional preparation and education program to complete the Mastery of Professional Preparation and Education Competence requirement. There are two traditional ways of meeting this requirement, you can either complete a Florida approved teacher preparation program through an accredited Florida institution or complete an out-of-state teacher preparation program from an accredited institute.

Florida Department of Education Teaching Requirements

There are two teacher certification options for educators in Florida offered by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), the temporary certificate and the professional certificate. Although there are two options, you should aim for earning your professional certificate if you intend on being a career teacher. The temporary certificate is only there for teacher candidates who still need to meet additional requirements prior to being awarded their professional certificate.

 

Temporary Certificate Professional Certificate
Valid for three school years Valid for five school years
Non-renewable Renewable
Allows those holding this certificate to teach full-time while they complete all of the professional level requirements Highest Florida teacher certification level available
Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher
Mastery of Subject Area Knowledge or gain Subject Specialization with a 2.5 GPA for the subject you seek to teach Verify Mastery of Subject Area Knowledge in the subject you intend to teach, by passing the appropriate exam
Have your fingerprints cleared Verify Mastery of General Knowledge by passing the Florida basic skills exam
You must first gain employment in a Florida school before you can be awarded your temporary license Mastery of Professional Preparation and Education Competence
  Have your fingerprints cleared
  You should gain employment in Florida prior to submitting your application; your employer will then assist you in completing the fingerprint process mentioned above

Complete a Student Teaching Experience

Although student teaching is not a listed requirement, all teacher preparation programs require students to complete a student teaching experience. Student teaching can be extremely helpful for teacher candidates. It gives them the chance to gain hands-on experience prior to starting their teaching career. As a student teacher you will work with an established teacher in their classroom. You will observe how the teacher manages the classroom and delivers lessons. By the end of your student teaching experience the roles will reverse, and you will be managing the classroom and delivering lessons while the teacher observes you.

Pass Florida Certification Exams

There are three tests that all Florida educators are expected to pass before earning their teacher certification exam. Each exam is referred to as a Florida Teacher Certification Exam (FTCE):

General Knowledge Test (GK): This FTCE serves as Florida’s basic skills exam. It is comprised of four distinct sub-tests including English language skills, reading, mathematics, and an essay portion.

Professional Education Test (PEd): The PEd essentially tests your preparedness as a teacher in pedagogy and professional practices. This exam will test you on eight key competency areas that cover your knowledge of: instructional design and planning; appropriate student-centered learning environments; instructional delivery and facilitation through a comprehensive understanding of subject matter; various types of assessment strategies for determining impact on student learning; relevant continuous professional improvement; the Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession in Florida; research-based practices appropriate for teaching English Language Learners (ELLs); and effective literacy strategies that can be applied across the curriculum to impact student learning.

Subject Area Examinations (SAE): The SAE exam you should take to earn your certification will be more specific to the degree you earned and/or teacher preparation program you completed. It will test your skill and knowledge level for teaching a specific grade and/or subject level. The exact SAE you should take will vary, however you can find testing information on some of the more common certification areas in the Specialty Certifications section below.

Apply

To start the application process you should complete the application packet, which should include a completed CG-10 application form, paying a $75 processing fee, and your official college transcripts. Your completed application should then be sent to the Bureau of Educator Certification for review. Unlike most states, Florida requires that you apply for certification prior to taking any certification exams. Once they receive your application they will notify you as to which certification exams you should take. You will then need to take the appropriate exams and earn a passing score on each.

From there you will receive an Official Statement of Eligibility (OSE). The Statement will either read that “you are eligible” or that “you are not eligible” for a temporary or professional license. If needed, it will also provide you with a list of requirements you must meet before earning your certification. While most states require you to submit a background check in conjunction with your application, Florida requires you to complete your background check through the employment office of the school district you seek employment with.

Once your fingerprints have been cleared and the Bureau of Educator Certification has received your district’s request and notification of the clearance, your certificate will be issued within 30 days. When you have your official teaching certification and your employment is secured, you will be able to begin your teaching career in Florida.

How Much Do Teachers in Florida Make?

While teaching doesn’t set you up to become a millionaire, you can make a comfortable living as a teacher in Florida. If you are interested in making more than the average salaries listed below, consider that a higher education and experience level can increase your teaching salary. Your salary can also vary depending on what area of Florida you teach in.

%

Job Growth for Teachers through 2026

Position Average Salary
Early Childhood Educator $27,480
Elementary School Teacher $47,610
Secondary School Teacher $51,610
Special Education Teacher $51,180
School Administrator $93,440
School Principal $92,510*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Specialty Certifications

All teacher certifications in Florida qualify teachers to teach a specific subject and grade level. You can work towards earning a specific certification in a few different ways: earn your degree in the field of teaching that relates to who and what you want to teach; earn your degree in the subject matter that you want to teach; and/or complete your teacher preparation program for the subject and grade level you seek to teach. From there you will need to pass the appropriate FTCE tests that correspond to your area of expertise.

Early Childhood Education

type-preschoolTo earn your early childhood education certification in Florida you should complete all of the steps mentioned at the beginning of this article, including the testing requirements. While all teacher candidates must take the GK, PEd and SAE tests, the SAE test will vary depending on the certification you earn. For early childhood education, you will need to take and pass the Preschool Education (Birth-Age 4) SAE with a score of 200 or higher. This exam includes a variety of competency areas covering your knowledge of the following:

Developmentally appropriate screening, assessment and evaluation
Typical and atypical early childhood development
Early childhood foundations, standards and professional practices
Issues and practices for engaging culturally diverse families and communities
Curriculum and developmentally appropriate practice
Children with varying exceptionalities and special considerations and the impact on families
Health, safety and nutrition

Elementary – Middle School Teacher

type-elementaryElementary school teachers in Florida must pass the SAE in Elementary Education K-6 in addition to meeting the education requirements and clearing a background test. To pass the exam you should earn a score of 200 or higher by being proficient in language arts and reading, social science, science, and mathematics. If you are interested in teaching the lower elementary grade levels you may want to take the Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 SAE. The exam is broken up into four distinct sub-tests: developmental knowledge, language arts and reading, mathematics, and science.

You have the option to take all the sub-tests in one sitting or you can break down your testing session into as few as one sub-test per sitting. To pass a sub-test you must earn a score of 200 or higher. As a middle school teacher in Florida four subject area testing options are available for earning your certification, all qualify you to teach grades 5-9. In addition to passing the appropriate SAE exam, you should also ensure that you meet all requirements for earning your professional teaching license.

English: There are testing two sections for the Middle Grades English SAE, a multiple-choice section and a writing section. The essay portion requires you to earn a score of eight or higher by demonstrating your ability to respond critically when analyzing a literary selection. For the multiple choice section, you must earn a passing score of 200 or higher by having proficient knowledge of:

The characteristics of students in order to make instructional decisions for teaching and learning
Language arts content
Various assessments and use of corresponding data to drive instructional decisions within language arts
Application of the collaborative processes of reading and writing

General Science: To pass the Middle Grades General Science SAE exam you will take a 120-question multiple-choice exam and earn a score of 200 or higher. It will cover topics such as these:

Conceptual and quantitative knowledge of the structure and behavior of matter
Conceptual and quantitative knowledge of forces and motion
Conceptual and quantitative knowledge of energy and its effects
Knowledge of Earth and the processes that affect it
Knowledge of space science
Knowledge of processes of life
Knowledge of the effects of physical and biological factors on the environment
Knowledge of the science learning environment
Knowledge of process skills and application of scientific inquiry

Mathematics: The Middle Grades Mathematics SAE will include 75 multiple-choice questions. To pass it, you must earn a score of 200 or higher. The exam will test you on your knowledge of these subjects:

Measurement and spatial sense
Problem-solving and reasoning skills
Mathematical manipulatives and models and instructional technology
Assessment in mathematics
Connections among mathematical concepts
Number sense, operations and proportionality
Foundations of algebra
Algebraic thinking
Data analysis, statistics and probability
Two-dimensional geometry

Social Science: Just like the other exams, you must earn a passing score of 200 or higher on the Middle Grades Social Science SAE to earn your certification. The exam is composed of 120 multiple-choice questions that cover your knowledge of history, geography, civics and government, economics, and social science curriculum instruction.

Secondary School Teacher

type-highschoolSecondary school teachers in Florida have far more SAE testing options available to them than teachers at the other grade levels do. You will want to make sure that you take the SEA that corresponds to the certification you are seeking. For example, if you are interested in teaching Chemistry, you should take the Chemistry 6-12 exam, not the Biology 6-12 exam.

Substitute Teacher Certification

type-substituteFlorida allows each school district to determine its own rules and regulations for hiring substitute teachers. At a minimum, the state requires substitute teacher candidates to be 18 or older, hold a high school diploma, and pass a background check. To find out more specific requirements you may need to meet, you should contact your local school district.

Physical Education (PE) Certification

type-physical-educationPE teachers in Florida must meet all the requirements for earning a professional teaching license, including having a bachelor’s degree and completing the appropriate testing requirements. A PE teacher must pass the Physical Education K-12 SAE with a score of 200 or higher, in addition to passing the GK and PEd exams. The exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions covering your knowledge of topics including the following:

Standards-based physical education curriculum development
Developmentally appropriate physical education instructional strategies
Human growth and development and motor learning as they relate to physical education
Developmentally appropriate movement skills and concepts related to physical education
Lifetime health, wellness, and physical fitness
Appropriate safety considerations, rules, strategies, and terminology related to physical education and a variety of physical activities

Special Education Certification

type-special-educationJust like all other Florida educators, those seeking a teaching certification in special education must complete all requirements mentioned at the beginning of this article. In terms of testing, candidates should earn a score of 200 or higher on the Exceptional Student Education K-12 SAE. It will test your knowledge of these types of subjects:

Foundations of exceptional student education
Assessment and evaluation
Instructional practices in exceptional student education
The positive behavioral support process
Multiple literacies and communication skills
The transition process

If you are interested in working with a specific special education population there are also testing options available for hearing impaired, speech-language impaired, and visually impaired.

English as a Second Language Certification

type-tesolThe SAE exam that all candidates for ESOL must take is the ESOL K-12. You must earn a score of 200 of higher to earn this certification. In addition you should complete all certification steps, including having a background check completed. The exam will test your knowledge of:

Culture as a factor in English language learners’ (ELLs’) learning
Language as a system
Language acquisition and development
Second language literacy development
ESL/ESOL research, history, public policy, and current practices
Standards-based ESOL and content instruction
Language proficiency assessment

Certifications for School Administrators

type-principalThere are two certification options for school administrators – Level 1-Educational Leadership and Level 2-School Principal. As a candidate for either certification you will need to take the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE). This exam is divided into three sub-tests: Leadership for Students Learning, Organizational Development and Systems Leadership. Additionally, Level 1 certifications require candidates to hold a master’s degree and verify completion of Florida Educational Leadership Core Curriculum. Level 2 candidates must meet the same requirements by holding and working with a Level 1 certification for one year. You must also complete a district school principal certification program before earning your Level 2 certification.

Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Florida

Florida is an active participant in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. As a participating state, Florida creates reciprocity guidelines so that out-of-state teachers interested in transferring their license into a Florida teaching license can easily access the information they need to begin the reciprocity process.

Requirement Description
NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Florida does participate in the Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity Yes, full reciprocity for out-of-state teachers is granted.
Coursework Requirements You do not need to complete any additional coursework to gain reciprocity.
Test-out or Exemption No.
Assessment Requirements Out-of-state teachers do not need to complete additional assessment requirements.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Requirements for reciprocity do not vary based on your experience level.
Performance Requirements You do not need to provide proof of your effectiveness as a teacher to gain reciprocity.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials Florida offers two levels of licensure, Temporary and Professional. If you have a valid advanced teacher certification that is comparable to the Florida professional licensure, you can earn this advanced level of licensure. The professional license can also be earned by verifying that you have the appropriate subject area knowledge, general knowledge, and professional preparation and education competence.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

The traditional route to gaining your teaching license typically involves earning your bachelor’s degree in some form of education. But for those who want to become teachers and aren’t able to back track, alternate teaching certification pathways might be good options to consider. Florida not only supports alternative pathways to teacher certification, but the Department of Education has even created its own nontraditional routes for those wishing to transition into a teaching career.

Teach for America

Teach for America (TFA) is an organization that places individuals interested in becoming teachers into high-needs schools for a two year commitment. These individuals work as teachers in their own classroom as members of TFA. While they complete their two year teaching assignment, they work to complete all of the requirements laid out by the Florida Department of Education to earn their license.

TFA is very active in Florida, and works within three distinct areas including Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami-Dade. To be considered a candidate for TFA you must have a bachelor’s degree. Your degree does not need to be related to education.

Troops to Teachers

Serving military members across the nation, Troops to Teachers (TTT) aids those who seek to transition into a teaching career. Florida is one of the most successful areas for earning your teaching license and finding employment through TTT. In 2016, 73 Florida TTT members were able to find employment as a teacher.

When you join TTT you will work with a representative to determine the pathway to licensure that will work best for you. They also work with you along the way by guiding you through the process and answering any questions you may have. Once you have earned your teacher certification, TTT even posts employment opportunities that you may be eligible to apply for.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

For those who don’t have an education degree but want to become a teacher, completing the Mastery of Professional Preparation and Education Competence requirement, talked about at the beginning of this article, can often be the biggest setback.

Luckily, FLDOE has alternative programs that can help you meet this competency requirement. After completing one of these programs and meeting the rest of the professional license requirements, you’ll be on your way to a Florida teaching career. Here are the available alternative programs:

Professional Developmental Certification Program
Educator Preparation Institute

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