How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Florida

An ECE Florida Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Florida

There is a rising trend in parents bringing their young children to school. A few decades ago, school typically started at age 5. Today, parents bring their children age 3 or even younger to daycare centers. Some even bring infants. This is largely due to the growing awareness that it is never too early to start learning. Also, there is a growing awareness of special needs in some children.

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Florida Steps to Follow for Teachers

There are a few steps required by the state before one can pursue a career as an early childhood education teacher. Every requirement and standard must be complied with. These are safeguards so that every student receives quality and appropriate education based on needs and developmental level.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

In Florida, teacher licensure applicants must have completed an approved teacher education program. These programs culminate in a bachelor’s degree or sometimes a higher-level degree. Any approved teacher preparation program will include at least 10 weeks of student teaching experience before graduation

Florida’s department of Education lists three areas of certification that allow you to teach the ECE age group. These are Preschool Education (birth-age 4), Prekindergarten/Primary Education (age 3-Grade 3), and Elementary Education (grades K-6). You can earn one of these certifications by completing an associated postsecondary program. With certification in one of these areas, you can step into the lead of any ECE classroom.

For those who have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, you can still gain licensure to teach. This is achieved through the completion of an applicable program from one of the Educator Preparation Institutes in Florida. This program will help you complete all the preparatory requirements for teaching certification.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

In Florida, a teaching candidate must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) in order to teach preschool in the state.

The first test is called the General Knowledge Test and it includes (4+ hours all together):

  • English Language Skills Subtest
  • Essay Subtest
  • Mathematics
  • Reading

This will be followed by an exam for Prekindergarten/Primary, Preschool Education, or Elementary Education test, depending on the area of specialization desired.

The Prekindergarten/Primary Exam contains these subtests (4.5 hours all together):

  • Mathematics
  • Language Arts and Reading
  • Developmental Knowledge

The Elementary Education Exam contains these subtests (4.5 hours all together):

  • Language Arts and Reading
  • Social Science
  • Science
  • Mathematics

The Preschool Education Exam gives you 60 minutes and has no subtests. Passing any of these will qualify you for Florida teacher certification. Registration and examination is done via Pearson Vue.

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

Florida also offers career opportunities in early childhood education through its VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) program by the state’s Department of Early Learning (DEL). Qualifying for the VPK program requires at least 1 of these:

  • Child Development Associate Equivalency (CDAE) from a Department of Children and Families (DCF)-approved program; AND completed DOE Emergency Literacy course
  • Child Development Associate (CDA) credential from Council for Professional Recognition AND completed DOE Emergency Literacy course
  • Associate’s degree or higher in child development
  • Associate’s degree or higher in a field unrelated to preschool or early childhood education; AND minimum 6 credit hours in child development or early childhood education; AND minimum of 480 hours of experience in providing childcare services for or teaching children from birth to 8 years old
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in any of these fields:
    • Pre-K or Primary Education
    • Early Child Education
    • Elementary Education
    • Specific Learning Disabilities
    • Special Education
    • Exceptional Student Education
    • Emotional Disabilities
    • Mental Disabilities
    • Family and Consumer Science
    • Physically Impaired
    • Hearing Impaired
    • Varying Exceptionalities
    • Speech-language Pathology

Popular Career Choices

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Accredited Florida Programs

There are many colleges and universities in the state of Florida where one can earn a degree in early childhood education or a related educational area. The state’s Department of Education does not give accreditation; however, it does require that you earn your degree from an accredited institution. The accrediting agencies may not be under the Department of Education, but they are listed in the Florida Statutes. These are in conjunction with the state’s VPK (Voluntary Prekindergarten) program. The regional agency responsible for accreditation in Florida is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. As long as you are in an approved program accredited by this agency, you should graduate with everything you need to step into your new career.

  • Florida Atlantic University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Science in Early Care and Education (birth to age 5 years)

    Accreditation By:

    • Approved by the Florida Board of Education
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
    • Council for Academic Accreditation in Auditory and Speech Pathology
  • Florida Gulf Coast University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (age 3 to grade 3)

    Accreditation By:

    • Approved by the Florida Department of Education
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Florida International University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (120-hour accreditation program in 2 tracks)

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for Accreditation of teacher Education
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
    • Council on Rehabilitation Education
    • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  • Florida State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (pre-kindergarten through grade 3)

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Specialization Additional Certifications

Regardless of what type of early childhood education teaching career is desired, Florida requires all teaching candidates to pass examinations for basic teaching knowledge and specific subject content area. The requirements for these vary on the type of certificate applied for. In Florida, there are two types of teaching certificates available; the Temporary Educator’s Certificate and the Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate.

The Temporary Educator’s Certificate is valid only for 3 years and non-renewable. This is often applied for in order to start working in the state while completing the requirements for a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate. Requirements for Temporary Educator’s Certificate are:

  • Minimum bachelor’s degree holder
  • Has obtained a position in any school in Florida
  • Fingerprints sample submitted for a background check
  • Content knowledge proven through degree and course requirements, with passing rate for appropriate subject area examination

The Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate has a 5-year validity and can be renewed at the end of those five years. The applicant for Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate must have:

  • Bachelor’s degree (minimum requirement)
  • Content knowledge proven through degree and course requirements, with passing rates for the appropriate subject area examination
  • Fingerprints sample submitted for a background check
  • Mastery of general knowledge proven by passing the Florida General Knowledge Test, with two complete semesters of full-time teaching experience in college, OR obtaining a passing score on the GRE-revised General Test
  • Mastery of Professional Preparation and Education Competence proven through a completed approved-teacher preparation program or other professional training approved program, like the Professional Development Certification Program

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

Public schools –
Teachers will expect to teach the children about core subjects like math, reading, social studies, and science based on the curriculum set by the district.

Private childcare –
Parents of young children may want their children actively exposed to education before they are ready for school. You may spend time teaching the children their alphabet or doing small science experiments, but you will also be responsible for feeding them, driving them to extracurriculars, and generally taking care of them.

Private schools –
While the curriculum will be much the same as it is in public schools, you’ll likely have more control over how it is presented in your specific classroom.

Head Start programs –
Teachers here will work with children age 3 to 5. Some have Early Head Start programs that cater to pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. These programs offer a comprehensive line of services that focus on:

  • Early education
  • Emotional and social health
  • Services for children who have disabilities
  • Health screenings
  • Social services
  • Nutrition

Community-based programs –
These programs often focus on STEM subjects. Through short sessions, or longer camp-style arrangements, you can teach kids about science, math, and engineering in a way that they will enjoy and remember for the rest of their lives.

Faith-based programs –
These programs provide the basic early education programs such as learning in core subjects. At the same time, they also focus on delivering learnings and teachings that support a specific faith or set of core beliefs.

Military programs –
This is a special area that focuses beyond academics. The educators in these programs have knowledge beyond child development. They must also train in addressing emotional and social skills needed to help the children and their families deal with challenges related to the parent’s work. This includes the ability to help children and families deal with a transient military lifestyle, social and emotional distress, and parental health concerns.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Florida

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$24,800$26,800$29,800
Elementary School Teacher$39,000$42,200$48,800
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary School$29,300$40,600$58,100
Professor of Education$60,200$70,900$99,100
School Psychologist$54,200$61,100$73,300
ESL Teacher$39,500$40,600$50,600

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Reality PD | Pre-School | Explain content clearly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD-aiOeZc84

  • Occupational Video - Early Childhood Educator

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  • Why Choose a Career in Early Childhood Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLIej6VnX-w

  • Early Childhood Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx_5fcYzdoA

  • Early Childhood Education Program

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCpObBmLZjQ

  • What Makes Great Teachers Great?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXaLGt460e4

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