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The Florida public school system is facing a critical shortage of teachers, with nearly 5,000 vacancies heading into the 2021-22 school year, according to the Florida Education Association. Certain subject areas are bearing the brunt of the shortage, resulting in a lack of teachers with the appropriate certifications to teach those classes.

These shortages also present an opportunity for educators who want to expand their instructional skill set. Adding a teacher endorsement or specialization — also referred to as subject coverage — to their teaching certification allows Florida educators to fill a critical need, as well as potentially advance their own careers.

Florida teachers can add a variety of endorsements and specializations to their certification, but to do so, they must meet certain requirements.

Benefits of Adding an Endorsement

An endorsement signifies that a teacher is skilled in a particular instructional strategy or discipline, typically geared toward a specific group or developmental level. Some examples include gifted education, reading, and American Sign Language. By adding an endorsement to their professional teaching certification, teachers have the opportunity to become subject matter experts, which can lead to professional advancement and help their district fill a need.

Career Advancement

Adding an endorsement or subject coverage to their certification signifies that a teacher is a subject matter expert in a particular area. Such qualifications may create opportunities for future advancement or allow teachers to switch to a different specialty later in their careers. Additional endorsements or specializations can also help job seekers stand out in a competitive job market.

Certain teacher endorsements and specializations can also boost a teacher’s earnings. Some districts offer additional pay for teachers certified in a high-need subject, such as English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) or special education. The state of Florida requires districts to provide financial incentives — in the form of bonuses or annual supplements — to teachers in high-need schools and those teaching high-need subjects

Help Fill a Need

The latest report from the Florida Department of Education lists the following certification areas as having the greatest shortage of teachers:

  • Science — general
  • English
  • Exceptional student education (ESE)
  • Science — physical
  • Reading
  • Technical education
  • Science — Earth and space
  • ESOL
  • Math

By adding an endorsement or subject coverage in one of these areas to their certification, teachers can help minimize their school system’s educational deficit and ensure students receive the proper instruction.

Types of Teacher Endorsements

A wide variety of endorsement types and coverage areas can be added to Florida educators’ teaching certifications. Educators can specialize in a specific subject, discipline or grade level.

Academic Endorsements

The Florida Department of Education lists the following academic endorsements:

  • American Sign Language
  • Athletic coaching
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Driver education
  • ESOL
  • Gifted
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Prekindergarten disabilities
  • Reading
  • Severe or profound disabilities

Elementary and Secondary Coverages

Educators can also add grade-specific coverage areas to their certification. In Florida, elementary-level coverages include:

  • Elementary education (kindergarten to grade six)
  • Prekindergarten/primary education (age 3 through grade three)
  • Preschool education (birth through age 4)

The coverage areas offered for secondary-level education (grades six to 12) include:

  • Drama
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Social science

In addition to these, Florida offers many other coverage areas for elementary and secondary education, including art, dance, ESOL and reading.

Endorsement and Specialization Requirements in Florida

The requirements for adding teaching endorsements and subject specializations to a Florida teacher certification can vary, depending on both the subject matter and the type of certification. Florida offers two different types of certification. The professional certificate, Florida’s highest educator certificate, is valid for five years and renewable. The nonrenewable temporary certificate is valid for three years and provides the opportunity to continue teaching full-time while completing the requirements for a professional certificate.

Endorsement Requirements

The requirements for adding an endorsement are identical for professional and temporary certifications. They include:

  • Submitting a completed Florida Educator Certification Application (including paying the corresponding processing fee)
  • Demonstrating proficiency in the subject you wish to add

Meeting the proficiency requirement entails completing necessary courses and completing an approved in-service add-on program.

Course requirements vary by subject. An ESOL endorsement, for example, entails:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree or higher with certification in another subject
  • Fifteen semester hours in ESOL with credit in specific areas (i.e., ESOL curriculum and materials development, cross-cultural communication and understanding)

Specialization Requirements

The requirements to add a subject specialization to a Florida teaching certification are very similar to those for adding an endorsement, with some slight variations. Both temporary and professional certificate holders must complete a Florida Educator Certification Application.

Those with a temporary certificate need to meet the subject specialization requirements for their chosen subject, which involves completing subject course requirements and passing the corresponding subject area examination.

Professional certificate-holders must demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. They can achieve this by doing the following:

  • Bachelor’s-level subjects: Passing the corresponding subject area exam
  • Master’s-level subjects: Completing subject course requirements and passing the subject area exam

An Endorsement for Your Career in Education

The University of Central Florida’s fully online education programs include a multitude of degrees and certificates that can help existing and aspiring teachers develop the knowledge and skills they need to become effective educators. The curriculums provided in several of UCF Online’s education programs align with the latest certification requirements in Florida, making it easier for graduates to earn their professional certification and teacher endorsements.

The flexibility offered by UCF Online’s programs, with part- and full-time options, is ideal for working professionals, as well as those seeking their first teaching job. Explore UCF’s online education degrees and certificates and discover how they can prepare you for a rewarding career as an educator.