The state of Florida is desperate for teachers. If you’re considering changing careers and entering the realm of teaching, it’s not as hard as it may initially seem. While the Florida Department of Education website is slightly convoluted, it is a good place to start. If you hold a bachelors degree in any subject from an accredited university, you are ready to begin the process of obtaining a certificate.
Before going any further, it is important to know that you can be hired by a school if all you have is a bachelors degree. There will be requirements and deadlines within your first year in the classroom in order to maintain your position as a teacher, but there isn’t anything stopping a school from bringing you on board at this point. This was a bit of information that would have made me feel much less stressed while I was going through the process of finding a teaching position. With that being said, the more items you can knock out of the way before a big interview, the better.
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Landing a job at school can require a bit of networking. Unless you have a degree in a high-demand subject like math or science, you will most likely need to know some people or have some experience before you get in the interview seat. The best way to do this is to spend a year as a substitute teacher. You will get to know teachers and schools this way. It’s a great way to really find out how a classroom works if you’ve never been in a teaching role before. You’ll get to experience all grade levels if you’re unsure what age you want to teach and, most importantly, you’ll build relationships in the education community. Many school districts in Florida are currently using Kelly Educational Staffing to hire and manage substitute teachers. If your district does not use Kelly, simply go to the district’s main website to find out how they hire substitute teachers. Being a substitute generally does not pay very well, but it is a great way to learn the school system, figure out what you want to teach, network, and make a little money while you work towards a certificate that looks good on your resume.
Subject Area Exams and Statements of Eligibility
To get a temporary certificate (which is good for three years and is non-renewable), all you need is either a passing score on a Subject Area Exam (SAE) OR a degree in the field you want to teach AND to be hired by a school. Employment and a passing score or degree in the field are the only two things you need to get the ball rolling on your temporary certificate.
If you have a degree in history, for example, and want to be a history teacher, you can go ahead and apply for your Statement of Status of Eligibility here. You do not need to take the SAE because you hold a degree in the subject area you want to teach. There is a $75 fee for applying for your Statement of Eligibility.
If you do not have a degree in the subject you want to teach, you should first take the appropriate SAE BEFORE applying for your Statement of Eligibility. Each time you apply, the $75 fee must be paid again, so get your official passing exam scores first. To register for an exam, go to the Florida Teacher Certification Examination(FTCE) website. There you be able to see all of the available exams and choose a time and location for your chosen exam. These exams are not cheap and most will be around $200 for each try, so be sure to study before committing to an exam date! There are many study guides available for every exam offered, so take a look online or ask any teacher friends if they have copies to loan you.
Results of the SAE are sent to the FLDOE automatically, so after you get your official score report that shows a passing score or you already have a degree in your chosen field, go ahead and submit the application for your Statement of Eligibility with the FLDOE here. You will then receive a letter in the mail that contains your Statement of Eligibility and it will either say that you are or are not eligible for a temporary certificate. If it says you are not eligible, it will give you a list of items that need to be completed in order to become eligible. If you are eligible, it will give you a list of items that need to be completed in order to get your professional (permanent) certificate. If you have a passing score on the SAE or an appropriate degree and you successfully complete the application package, you should receive an “eligible” statement. This statement is an excellent item to include on a resume and to have on-hand during an interview. It shows that you are serious about becoming a certified teacher and increases the chances of a school wanting to bring you on board.
The General Knowledge and Professional Education Exams
Once you have your Statement of Eligibility, you will only need to be hired and get fingerprinted to be issued your temporary certificate!
During your first year of teaching with a temporary certificate, your school will guide you through the process of obtaining your professional certificate. The temporary certificate is good for three years, so you’ll need to be working towards your professional beginning in your first year in the classroom. The next step will be to take the General Knowledge (GK) Exam. This must be done within your first year. To register for your GK, go to the FTCE website to choose a date and testing location. You do not have to wait until you are hired to take this test, but you do not need it to get hired initially. This test also comes with a hefty fee so be sure to study beforehand, especially if you need to brush up on your math. It can be very beneficial to already have your passing GK score report at an interview because many aspiring teachers struggle to pass the math portion of this required exam. The study guide from the GK that I prefer can be found here.
The final exam you will need is the Professional Education exam. You will also register for this on the FTCE website. This one is $150 for the first attempt, and it contains information that may not be obvious to someone who does not have a teaching degree. You should get a study guide before attempting this exam. Here is the one I prefer that won’t break the bank.
You’re a Teacher!
Getting the temporary certificate is much easier than it initially appears.
- Make sure you either have a degree in your chosen field OR a passing SAE score
- Apply on the FLDOE website for your Statement of Eligibility
- Get hired by a school district
- Get fingerprinted (your hiring school will direct you on how and where to do this)
- You should receive your temporary certificate online via your FLDOE account where you applied for your Statement of Eligibility