How to Be a Special Education Teacher in Florida

In the state of Florida, persons who are interested in being special education teachers can do so through academic achievement and passing the relevant assessments required by the Florida Department of Education. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Information About Becoming a Certified Special Education Teacher in Florida

Special education teachers are called exceptional student teachers in Florida. While there are several ways to gain certification in this area, the traditional route entails earning a degree in an approved educator preparation program from an accredited college or university as well as passing a number of FTCE exams. The general requirements for a Professional Certificate are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements FTCE
Certification Renewal Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal Six semester hours of college credit
Median Salary (2018)$50,120 (preschool special education teachers in FL)
$60,720 (kindergarten and elementary special education teachers in FL)
$55,050 (middle school special education teachers in FL)
$55,080 (high school special education teachers in FL)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (special education teachers nationally)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements

In order to gain a professional certificate as an exceptional student teacher, candidates must first earn a degree in an area of exceptional education. The Florida Department of Education has a database of institutions that provide approved educator preparation programs on its website.

Exam Requirements

All prospective educators in Florida must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) for General Knowledge and Professional Education. The General Knowledge Test is a basic skills assessment that has four subtests that are comprised of an essay, Language Arts, Reading, and Mathematics, and the last three subsets consist of multiple-choice questions and an on-screen calculator is available for the Mathematics portion. Exceptional student educators must also pass an FTCE Subject Area Assessment (SAE) that is relevant to the area they would like to teach. The available SAE areas are:

  • Exceptional Student Education (K-12)
  • Hearing Impaired (K-12)
  • Speech-Language Impaired (K-12)
  • Visually Impaired (K-12)

Each test is two and a half hours long and has 120 multiple-choice questions.

Application Process

The process of attaining the Professional Certificate has four stages;

  • The process begins when the candidate submits their application form, transcripts and $75 application fee. The application form can be downloaded from the Florida Department of Education website or the candidate can complete the application online, and the application fee can paid online using a debit or credit card or it can be sent in with the application form and official transcripts by check or money order.
  • The application will be evaluated for candidate eligibility, after which a statement of eligibility for certification is given that is valid for three years.
  • Once the candidate has been given a statement of eligibility for a certificate, they must seek employment at a school in Florida as this is a requirement for the Professional Certificate being granted. The Florida Department of Education has a list of potential schools on its website as well.
  • Having secured employment, the candidate can then go through the fingerprinting process to be issued their Professional Certificate.

Fingerprint Check

Public school teachers in Florida will have their fingerprints processed through their employing school in order to earn their Professional Certificate. The results of the background check will be returned to the employing school district. If the candidate passes the background check, their certificate will be issued within 30 days. If candidates choose to undergo fingerprinting prior to starting the Florida application process, they may have to re-do it.

Certificate Information

The professional certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed. Educators can renew their certificate by completing at least six semester hours of college credit which must include at a minimum, one semester hour in teaching students with disabilities. The semester hours must have been earned during the time of the certificate's validity in order to be accepted.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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