As the population of the Jacksonville region continues to expand, so do the occupations that support this growth. With several leading education institutions in Northeast Florida across the primary and secondary levels, educators and administrators are in high demand. The Jacksonville region also has some of the best school districts in the state and education jobs available throughout the area.

Career Pathway Report

Industry Overview

While the demand for teachers at every level remains high, there are several career paths within education that go beyond teaching. Some of the positions in the Jacksonville region education space include Associate Director of Education, Postdoctoral Associate, Academic Advisor, Director of Student Services, Director of Campus, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Services, Associate Director Dual Enrollment, Grant Administrator, Operations Administrator, Academic Department Coordinator, Student Services Coach and Admission Representative. You can review the education Career Pathway below to learn more about the levels of progression within the education industry and the skills and experience required to meet them.

Most education jobs require a degree in education or a related field. Most require either an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, but some positions, such as a college professor, require a doctorate degree. All Florida teachers are required to hold an educator certification, which requires meeting prerequisites such as passing basic knowledge examinations and completing a formal teacher preparation program. In order to receive a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate, candidates must first complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. In Florida approved preparation programs are known as Educator Preparation Institutes (EPIs). You can view a list of approved teacher training programs through the Florida Department of Education. If you have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program, you can also read more about different pathways to teaching licensure on our guide to alternative teacher certification in Florida.

Jacksonville needs teachers, so if teaching is your passion please review the Testimonials below and discover the next steps to your career in education.

Educational Institutions in the Region

I'm excited to help launch students into their careers.

Leah CrawfordCTE Teacher, Frank H. Peterson Academies

Students can be strong in mind but also in character to create a better community.

Charles Darwin Magdaluyo2022 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year

I want to push [students] to become leaders themselves so when they’re adults, they're already trained leaders.

Kenneth FordMath Interventionist, Rufus E. Payne Elementary School

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Mandy StelzClinical Coordinator/Radiologic Technology Instructor, Keiser University

I believe teachers can make a difference and change lives, one student at a time.

Christine WirtClay High School Teacher of the Year

Kids see your passion and interest and they’ll appreciate it.

Carley FeagleAgricultural Teacher, Keystone Heights High School

Christine Wirt

Clay High School Teacher of the Year

The prospect of making a difference in students’ lives played a critical role in attracting Christine Wirt to the teaching profession.

“I believe teachers can make a difference and change lives, one student at a time,” said Wirt, College and Career Counselor at Clay High School, “You have the opportunity to make the community, society and the world a better place.”

Wirt, Coordinator of Academies and CTE Pathways at Clay High School, was honored as one of Clay County’s Teachers of the Year. A graduate of Orange Park High School, Wirt joined Clay County District Schools in 1992 after earning an associate’s degree at St. Johns River State College and a bachelor’s degree in Career and Technical Education and Guidance at the University of West Florida.

“The District has been very supportive of CTE, and my success is a result of the teamwork between the administration, guidance counselors and teachers at Clay High School,” said Wirt.

The Clay County District Schools offers robust CTE programs at each Junior High and Senior High School. From Aerospace to Welding, there is an abundance of opportunities for students to discover their passion. Students can earn industry certifications in addition to their high school diploma through CTE. Wirt has helped hundreds of students identify career pathways.

“Our goal is to help students identify programs of interest, make them aware of all of the jobs available in that field and learn the skills essential for career success,” said Wirt.

She has played a vital role in the program’s success. Wirt served as the lead/school coordinator for two academies that achieved Model Career Academy status, a prestigious national distinction and mark of excellence. The academies are the Clay High School Academy of Criminal Justice, which has achieved Model Career Academy status twice, and the Fleming Island High School VyStar Academy of Business.

Business partnerships are essential to the academies’ success. More than 50 local businesses provide worked-based learning experiences, internships and scholarships. Many business leaders have helped by serving as mentors.

“Our business partners have opened up doors for our students’ success,” Wirt said.

As College and Career Coach, Wirt connects with students, discussing curriculum opportunities and creating a four-year personalized academic plan that includes earning a diploma and having a post-secondary plan in place. She encourages and inspires students to step outside of their comfort zones.

“I chose the VyStar Academy for its valuable experience and to participate in an internship at VyStar,” said senior Ryan Freeman. “My time in the academy has significantly improved my confidence and social skills."

Currently, 91% of Clay High School’s student population are taking CTE classes and 28% of seniors in CTE have entered the workforce upon graduation.

“The three years I’ve been in the Academy of Criminal Justice have given me a better understanding of Florida laws and different career opportunities in the field of Criminal Justice,” said junior Michael Land. “The experience has helped me become a better person and better prepared for life after high school.”

Mandarin High School

Health Science Academy

Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Dewberry, the instructors of Mandarin High School’s Medical Academy, bring an industry focus to their classrooms. Since the program began in 2008, students have seen how their classroom instruction translates into the real world. In 2022, the Health Sciences Academy obtained Master Academy Status following an intensive CTE Academy Accreditation review process. A Master Academy is the highest standard obtained in this DCPS Accountability and Assessment Process.

In a classroom equipped with four hospital beds, equipment, technology, and the requisite mannequins, Collins and Dewberry bring synergy and realism to their health science program, a co-hort model extending from freshman through senior year.

Students begin the Academy as freshmen and continue with the same co-hort through their senior year. As such, the group feels more like an extended family. This “family” is supported by regional businesses and education partners such as Baptist South, River Garden, St. Vincent’s, Keiser University, Florida State College at Jacksonville, University of North Florida, and Jersey College. They have impacted the program through their work on the Academy Advisory Board, providing clinical sites and donating equipment.

As Mrs. Collins is an RN and Mrs. Dewberry an EMT, they are constantly supplementing their instruction with real world experience from industry. RN’s and EMT’s approach their work very differently, as the scenario determines the response. Thus, students get a perspective from each teacher on how to respond to 12 patients needing continual care instead of 1 person needing emergency care.

As freshmen, students learn health science foundations, communication, and teamwork. Students are put into working groups selected by their teacher. “Students don’t get to pick their colleagues or their patients in the real world,” said Collins.

Each year builds on the prior year. Freshmen and sophomores will learn both soft and practical skills such as communication, First Aid/CPR, sterile technique, and vital signs. As juniors, students take Anatomy and Physiology with additional focus on diseases, treatments, prognoses, and careers. The senior courses prepare students for their certification tests.

Part of this preparation includes 16 clinical hours in a medical facility and completing lab hours on campus. When students are at Baptist South, they will be exposed to the Emergency Room, Radiology, and Cath Labs. Students have even been in surgery and post-surgery settings. There they practice the skills they have learned while shadowing professionals. When students say, “’I can read these charts’, they have moment of clarity and accomplishment” according to Dewberry.

Students learn about the multitude of opportunities in biomedicine that exist in Jacksonville. Participating in a virtual classroom with Brooks Rehabilitation allowed students to see how lasers, sensors and plates monitored an athlete jumping and generated data to best evaluate a knee injury. Students have also visited Medtronic to see the medical equipment produced.

Students leave the program with two certifications: CMAA and EKG Technician. The CMAA is an allied health credential which equips students for front office, scheduling, greeting patients and handling payments. Students must complete 10 live EKGs before they can sit for the exam.

Mandarin students participate in HOSA—Future Health Professionals, an extra-curricular activity aligned to national standards. HOSA teaches leadership through competition and community service. Mandarin HOSA is student run and consistently places in regional and state competitions. Students are now looking to compete globally.

Students succeed in the workforce following graduation. For example, one Mandarin graduate is now a lab assistant at Baptist’s downtown campus; several are nurses at Baptist locations. Another former student is mentoring a currently enrolled student. Many are pursuing their studies to be nurse practitioners and physical therapists. The value of this program extends beyond high school. Student Mandy Nguyen said, “The Medical Academy has given me the opportunity to gain and expand my knowledge in health care. This will set me up for success towards future education and careers.”

Leah Crawford

CTE Teacher - Commercial Art, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

Leah Crawford did not start her career teaching, but she always knew that’s what she wanted to do.

Crawford is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher - Commercial Art at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, a public magnet career and college preparatory high school in Jacksonville.

A Jacksonville native, Crawford graduated from Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in 2011 and from Flagler College with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2015. After graduation, she moved to Orlando for her first professional job but returned to Jacksonville after a year. Crawford spent more than five years working in the design industry in a variety of environments including agency and business settings. She began teaching at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in September 2020.

“I always thought I would end up working in education although I didn’t think it would happen this early in my career – but I love it,” Crawford said.

Crawford teaches Commercial Art Technology in the Communications Academy, preparing students for careers in the creative industry after high school or college. The Communications Academy also offers programs in Television Production and Digital Information Technology/IT.

A self-described “art kid,” Crawford had a passion for art and knew early on she wanted to study design. Her transition to teaching occurred in part because she maintained relationships with many of her former teachers.

“I had many key educators – in elementary, high school and college,” Crawford said. “They all left an impression on me. I knew one day I would love to emulate that energy in a classroom setting.”

One of her mentors is Michael Fuller, now retired but who had been Crawford’s commercial art teacher at the Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology. Fuller contacted Crawford when a teaching vacancy became available.

“I wasn’t looking for a change, but when it was put in front of me, I knew I needed to jump at the opportunity,” Crawford said.

As an educator, Crawford draws on her professional design experience combined with her passion for creative problem solving. For the transition to teaching, Crawford earned her teaching certificate and Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop certifications. Crawford enjoys working with students.

“Being an educator isn’t just showing up to a classroom,” Crawford said. “I’m excited to help launch students into their careers.”

Students at the Academy earn industry certifications and regularly receive on-the-job training through internships. Crawford’s students work on a variety of real-world projects. In April, they will design marketing materials to promote the Healing Hearts Project’s fun run. This project also provides an opportunity for the academy to support a non-profit organization.

“Skills with Adobe products are guaranteed to give a leg up when pursuing a career at any point in time because of the early exposure that was provided,” said student Dante Pierre. “When you're exposed early to these kinds of professional programs, you develop a skillset that never truly becomes obsolete.”

Many of Crawford’s students value the Academy’s programs.

“I believe this Academy is helping my school life improve overall,” said student Danielle Wilson. “I'm learning things about websites, programs, editing and design, and I'm learning concepts that allow my school work to look nicer and my creativity to flow.”

Antionette Rowell

Cosmetology Instructor, Cosmetology Academy at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

Antionette Rowell is living her dream career in the classroom as an experienced cosmetology instructor.

“As a cosmetology educator, you have to have a passion for the profession and also for teaching,” she said. “I absolutely love what I do.”

Rowell is the head cosmetology instructor at the Cosmetology Academy at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, a public magnet career and college preparatory high school in Jacksonville. The school is home to eight academies, including culinary, automotive and aviation. In 2022, the Cosmetology Academy obtained Master Academy Status following an intensive CTE Academy Accreditation review process. A Master Academy is the highest standard obtained in the Duval County Public Schools’ Accountability and Assessment Process.

A Jacksonville native, Rowell is a graduate of the program when it was the Westside Skills Center. She also has worked in her family-owned salon, Renewed Image Hair and Nail Salon, for 30 years. She returned to the school to teach in 2007.

“In both professions, as a cosmetologist and as a teacher, you have the opportunity to positively impact someone’s life,” Rowell said. “In the salon, you work with clients who leave feeling good about themselves. In the classroom, you work with students and experience their excitement when they advance their skills and knowledge.”

Students in the cosmetology academy work toward the 1200 school hours and the understanding to pass the Florida Board of Cosmetology exam. In addition to career-ready coursework, students acquire the necessary skills hands-on in the academy’s fully equipped hair and nail salon that is open to the public. All of the work at the salon – haircuts, braiding, coloring, manicures and facials – is done by students working toward earning their state cosmetology licenses.

“The academy prepares you for the real world,” said student Naiya Turner. “It allows you to experience real life situations, such as doing a consultation with a client.”

Students in the program learn all aspects of the cosmetology business. They also acquire other professional business skills including how to communicate with others, how to work as part of a team, time management and how to market their business.

“The cosmetology program provides you with a variety of skills that you can use in any occupation,” said student Feynix Luna. “The experience has helped me determine the direction I want to pursue as a career.”

A cosmetology license opens the door to many career choices. Rowell’s students have gone on to work as hair stylists, salon owners and as beauty industry educators and trainers. Many of her alumni students return to the academy to mentor current students, sharing real-life experiences about their careers.

“The benefits we receive at the academy are amazing,” said student Shalicia Wilson. “We learn everything we need to obtain our Florida license.”

While it’s vital to have an interest in hair, makeup and style, Rowell says being a cosmetologist also requires exceptional social skills and an enthusiasm for serving others and helping someone feel and look good.

“As cosmetologists, it is essential to have the passion for the job you are doing,” Rowell said. “When my students venture off into their own areas of expertise, it is so gratifying to see.”