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Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Florida

The Florida Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a total of 14,250 preschool teachers in 2010. By 2022, it is projected that 14,650 preschool teachers will be employed in Florida.

According to the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning, it is estimated that there are more than 11,000 providers of preschool programs in Florida, which include voluntary pre-kindergarten and school readiness programs.

If you want to teach preschool in the Florida public school system, the Department of Education requires that you possess a valid and current teaching certificate. To earn a certificate to teach preschool in Florida, you must complete the following steps:

Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program
Pass the Required Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE)
Apply for and Maintain your Educator Certificate
Consider Preschool Education beyond the Public School Classroom

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program

To become a preschool teacher in Florida, you must complete an approved teacher education program, which consists of a bachelor’s degree or higher and all necessary requirements to become a licensed teacher in Florida, including a 10-week field experience in a preschool setting.

If you already possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, you may achieve licensure to become a preschool teacher by completing a program through one of Florida’s Educator Preparation Institutes, which includes all educational and professional preparation requirements for career changers or college graduates who do not yet possess educator certification in Florida.

You may seek Florida certification to teach preschool in one of two areas:

  • Pre-kindergarten/primary education (age 3-grade 3)
  • Preschool education (birth-age 4)

Pre-kindergarten/Primary Education: Age 3-Grade 3

This preschool specialization requires the completion of one of the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher with an undergraduate or graduate major in prekindergarten/primary education (age 3-grade 3); OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with at least 45 semester hours in prekindergarten/primary education (age 3-grade 3); OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with an undergraduate or graduate degree major in preschool education (birth-age 4); AND at least 12 semester hours in pre-kindergarten/primary education to include integrated field experiences; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with a specialization and professional preparation requirements completed for the area of preschool education (birth-age 4); AND at least 12 semester hours in pre-kindergarten/primary education to include integrated field experiences; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with an undergraduate or graduate degree major in elementary education (grades 1-6); AND at least 15 semester hours in prekindergarten/primary education to include integrated field experiences; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with the specialization and professional preparation requirements completed for elementary education (grades 1-6) or primary education (grades K-3); AND at least 15 semester hours in prekindergarten/primary education to include integrated field experiences

Preschool Education: Birth-Age 4

This preschool education requires the completion of at least one of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with an undergraduate or graduate major in preschool education (birth-age 4); OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with at least 45 semester hours in preschool education (birth-age 4); OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with an undergraduate or graduate degree major in early childhood education or primary education (grades K-grade 3); AND the completion of at least 12 semester hours to include integrated field experiences; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with the specialization and professional preparation requirements completed for the prekindergarten (age 3-grade 3) certification coverage; AND the completion of at least 12 semester hours to include integrated field experiences; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with specialization and professional preparation requirements completed for the early childhood education or the primary education (K-grade 3) certification coverage; AND the completion of at least 24 semester hours to include integrated field experiences

 


 

Step 2. Pass the Required Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE)

To become certified to teach preschool in Florida, you must first complete the General Knowledge Test, which includes the following components:

  • Essay subtest
  • English language skills subtest
  • Reading
  • Mathematics

You must then take and pass one of the following examinations, depending on your desired area of specialization in preschool education:

Prekindergarten/primary (PreK-3); includes the following subtests:

  • Developmental knowledge
  • Language arts and reading
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Preschool education (birth-age 4)

You must take and pass the above test components to qualify for Florida certification. Registration and scheduling is completed through the Pearson Vue website. In Florida, you may take the required examinations throughout Florida (a list of locations can be found here).

 


 

Step 3. Apply for and Maintain your Educator Certificate

Upon completing all necessary requirements for certification, you must complete an application through the Florida Department of Education’s online application system. After the Department has reviewed your application and has sent you an Official Statement of Status of Eligibility, you will be required to complete the fingerprinting process.

Your educator certificate in Florida is valid for a period of 5 years. You must complete at least 6 semester hours of college credit during each five-year renewal period through one of the approved Educator Preparation Institutes.

Due to the strict certification renewal requirements, many educators in Florida choose to pursue a master’s degree as a way to satisfy their professional development requirements while advancing in their profession.

 


 

Step 4. Consider Preschool Education beyond the Public School Classroom

Florida’s Department of Early Learning (DEL) has a well-established voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) program in place; in fact, the DEL reports that about 80 percent of all Florida four-year-olds now attend VPK.

Preschool teachers serving Florida’s VPK through either public or private providers must meet specific educational/experiential requirements. To become a preschool teacher in Florida through the State’s VPK program, you must possess at least ONE of the following:

  • Council for Professional Recognition’s CDA credential AND the completion of the DOE Emergency Literacy course
  • CDAE issued by a Department of Children and Families (DCF)-approved program; AND the completion of the DOE Emergency Literacy course
  • An associate’s degree or higher in an unrelated field; AND at least 6 credit hours in early childhood education or child development; AND at least 480 hours of experience in teaching or providing childcare services for children from birth-8 years
  • An associate’s degree or higher in child development
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in:
    • Early child education
    • Pre-K or primary education
    • Family and consumer science
    • Elementary education
    • Exceptional student education
    • Special education
    • Mental disabilities
    • Specific learning disabilities
    • Physically impaired
    • Varying exceptionalities
    • Emotional disabilities
    • Hearing impaired
    • Speech-language pathology

To become a Summer VPK instructor, you must possess at least ONE of the following:

  • A temporary or professional Florida educator certificate (Note: Certification may be in any area, although school districts may give priority to those candidates with who have experience or coursework in early childhood education.)
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in:
    • Early childhood education
    • Pre-K or primary education
    • Preschool education
    • Family and consumer science
    • Elementary education


Florida Preschool Teacher Salaries

Florida had the fourth highest preschool teacher employment level in the country in 2013 according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The field of preschool teaching is expected to grow 15.1% in this state in the eight-year period leading up to 2021 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The average preschool teacher salary in Florida was $26,413 in 2014. Experienced preschool teachers averaged $30,202 while entry-level salaries were $18,383 on average. Florida preschool teacher salaries vary a great deal throughout the state. For instance, the average salary of experienced teachers in the Miami area was 27.4% higher than that for the state as a whole.

Preschool teacher salaries in some of the state’s biggest cities are show below:

Florida City
Entry-level
Experienced
Ft. Lauderdale
$18200
$31179
Gainesville
$17701
$26229
Jacksonville
$19323
$26686
Miami
$19531
$38480
Orlando
$20030
$31262
Pensacola
$17555
$27456
Tallahassee
$20259
$31491
Tampa
$19198
$28496

In 2013, Florida was home to 19,540 preschool teachers according to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity. These jobs are spread throughout the state. No one metropolitan area had more than 19% of the state’s preschool teachers. Tampa had the largest number with 18.5%, while employment levels in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando ranged from 12% to 12.7% of the state’s total.

Areas outside of Florida’s major metropolitan areas can be good sources of preschool teacher jobs. The nonmetropolitan area of south Florida had the second highest preschool teacher employment level of any such area in the country according to the BLS.

A 2009 analysis of job vacancies in Region 20 listed preschools as having the fifth largest number of vacancies that year. This region includes the counties of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie.

2013 Pre-K teacher salaries are available from the BLS for areas throughout Florida:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL
580
25810
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin FL
250
22110
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach FL
Estimate not released
21690
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach FL Metropolitan Division
2350
26520
Gainesville FL
340
23140
Jacksonville FL
1660
23920
Lakeland-Winter Haven FL
340
31770
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach FL
6110
27670
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall FL Metropolitan Division
2480
28900
Naples-Marco Island FL
130
30010
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota FL
470
27360
Ocala FL
440
26770
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford FL
2420
27070
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville FL
520
23810
Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach FL
90
23000
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent FL
420
23940
Port St. Lucie FL
340
25070
Punta Gorda FL
Estimate not released
23630
Sebastian-Vero Beach FL
220
24350
Tallahassee FL
220
27350
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL
3610
25120
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach FL Metropolitan Division
1280
27400
Northwest Florida nonmetropolitan area
150
22860
Northeast Florida nonmetropolitan area
370
23230
South Florida nonmetropolitan area
540
24040

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