Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Florida

With more than one million children under the age of 5, and 600 more kids born each day, Florida is a huge market for preschool services. According to the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning, as many as 700,000 of them attend some sort of early learning program. The office administers 30 early learning coalitions that provide curriculum guidance and support across the state through both public and private pre-K programs.

In 2018, the Office of Early Learning established the Preschool Network in the state, a collaboration among local school districts, private early learning providers, and early learning coalitions that work together to increase communication and explore new ways to implement early learning programs. Through the development and use of quality indicators, the Network attempts to improve the quality of early childhood education and the level of information available to parents.

Some of those indicators measure the quality of educators, but your real measure of success as a preschool teacher will be the accomplishments of your students. Early childhood education lays the groundwork for life, and the dedication, perseverance, and professionalism you bring to the table will shape the lives of each of your students forever.

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

The demands of those million children under 5 makes Florida fourth highest in the country in employment for preschool teachers, both in general and special education, according to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the Homosassa Springs area has the highest concentrations of preschool teaching jobs in the entire country.

Florida early educators tend to fall slightly below the national averages. The ranges shown represent median, top 25, and top 10 percent salaries:

Preschool Administrators: $44,760 – $54,980 – $72,350

Preschool Teacher: $24,740 – $30,300 – $42,700

Preschool Special Educator: $48,200 – $56,910 – $70,230

On the other hand, all three categories come in above the national average in terms of rate of growth. All of them hover right around a 13 percent increase in the number of jobs projected between 2016 and 2026, which leads to around 3,000 combined openings per year when you factor in both new positions and normal turnover as existing teachers enter retirement.

Those jobs are provided by some of the many preschool and early education facilities that are listed below for major metropolitan areas throughout the state, together with salaries at the median and for the top 25 and top 10 percent.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach

Not only does the Miami area have a lot of preschools to choose from for jobs, it also has the best median salary for preschool teachers in the state.

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools
  • Brickell International Academy
  • Broward County Public Schools
  • School District of Palm Beach County
  • Kids Learning Academy
  • Children’s World
  • Fort Lauderdale Learning Center
  • The Roig Academy
  • Montessori Children’s House
  • Sunny Start Preschool
  • Little Executives Preschool

Schools and learning centers in the greater Miami area offer preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $46,060
  • 75th Percentile – $57,350
  • 90th Percentile – $65,260

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $26,450
  • 75th Percentile – $35,160
  • 90th Percentile – $49,900

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $47,830
  • 75th Percentile – $51,460
  • 90th Percentile – $65,220

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

The Tampa area has a wide array of jobs available for early childhood educators at schools such as:

  • Montessori Academy of Tampa Bay
  • STEAM Preschool Academy
  • Hillsborough County Public Schools
  • Cornerstone Preschool
  • Little Learning Preschool
  • Pinellas County Schools
  • Petersburg Christian Preschool
  • Speer YMCA Preschool Academy

At schools and community programs in Tampa and St. Petersburg, preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $45,940
  • 75th Percentile – $49,670
  • 90th Percentile – $69,440

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $24,910
  • 75th Percentile – $28,990
  • 90th Percentile – $31,920

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford

The Orlando area has many private preschools in addition to robust public voluntary Pre-K programs at all three county districts in the region.

  • Orange County Public Schools
  • La Petite Academy
  • Lil’ Explorers Preschool
  • Building Wings Preschool
  • School District of Osceola County
  • Seminole County Public Schools
  • Kiddie Academy
  • Brilliant Minds Montessori
  • KinderCare
  • The Magnolia Preschool
  • Dream Big Preschool of Learning

At preschools throughout the greater Orlando area, preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $41,770
  • 75th Percentile – $50,020
  • 90th Percentile – $60,400

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $24,020
  • 75th Percentile – $28,490
  • 90th Percentile – $32,610

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $40,960
  • 75th Percentile – $50,500
  • 90th Percentile – $61,670

Jacksonville

Although Jacksonville doesn’t represent the largest job market for early childhood administrators in the state, it has far and away the best salaries at the top end, going into six figures for the top ten percent of administrators.

  • Duval County Public Schools
  • Providence Preschool
  • Learning Ladders
  • Argyle Christian Preschool
  • Seacoast Christian Academy
  • Stepping Stones Preschool
  • Primrose School of Glen Kernan

At schools in Jacksonville, preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $49,800
  • 75th Percentile – $69,170
  • 90th Percentile – $119,990

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $25,290
  • 75th Percentile – $31,750
  • 90th Percentile – $43,190

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $51,790
  • 75th Percentile – $64,960
  • 90th Percentile – $76,180

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 for preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers and preschool administrators – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm#11-9111. The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and its MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

 Job growth projections sourced from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.

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