Education System

School District Postsecondary Certificate Programs

What is the purpose of District Career Certificate Programs?

The purpose of district postsecondary career certificate programs is to provide students with the skills and competencies necessary to perform work tasks related to specific occupations so they may attain and sustain employment and realize economic self-sufficiency.

Florida College System institutions also offer a wide range of career certificate programs.

What types of career certificate programs do school districts offer?

Thirty-nine Florida school districts provide a range of career certificate programs. These include Applied Technology Diploma (ATD), apprenticeship programs, and career certificate (formerly PSAV) programs. Programs differ in length depending on the occupation being trained for and the credential earned. In addition to the standard curriculum, ATD and career certificate programs over 450 contact hours require students to meet a basic skills requirement to complete the program. The Department of Education provides curriculum frameworks for each certificate program. The frameworks describe the program's purpose, structure, and length, as well as the standards the program covers. Sponsors of new apprenticeship programs set the curriculum requirements.

What is the Career Certificate Program?

Postsecondary Career Certificate programs train students in technical skills that enable them to attain and sustain employment and realize economic self-sufficiency. Certificate programs do not require students to have a high school diploma to enroll, but students must attain a specified score on a basic skills exam to complete the program. The top 10 district programs for 2019-20, as reported by the department in terms of enrollment, are listed below.
Postsecondary Career Certificate Programs Enrollment
Practical Nursing 3,756
Welding Technology1,809
Medical Assisting1,693

Professional Culinary Arts & Hospitality

 Automotive Service Technology1,308
Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Technology1,297
Early Childhood Education1,184

Aviation Airframe Mechanics

Source:  Department of Education.

What is the Applied Technology Diploma Program?

Applied Technology Diploma (ATD) programs are short-term courses of study that are part of a technical degree program and lead to employment in a specific occupation. These programs vary in length but must be under 60 credit hours. Many of the most popular programs are in the health services field, such as emergency medical technician, medical coder/biller, dental assisting technology and management, pharmacy technician, and medical clinical laboratory technician.

How much is tuition for Career Certificate and ATD programs?

According to s. 1009.22(3)(c), Florida Statutes, for Career Certificate and ATD programs school districts are authorized to charge standard tuition of $2.33 per contact hour and an additional $6.99 out-of-state fee per contact hour for non-residents. Each district school board is authorized to adopt tuition and out-of-state fee rates within a range of five percent below to five percent above the standard tuition and out-of-state fee rates established by the Florida Legislature. Districts may also charge fees for student financial aid (10% of tuition rate), capital improvement (5% of tuition rate), and technology (5% of tuition rate).

What is the Apprenticeship Program?

Apprenticeship is a relatively long (up to five years), highly structured program that provides vocational skill training in a given job through a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Students enrolled in apprenticeship programs are usually required to have a high school diploma or its equivalency. Apprenticeship programs are different than other certificate programs as employers generally initiate and sponsor programs, and then may enter into agreements with school districts or state colleges which provide classroom instruction and/or assist with funding. As a result, the sponsor selects the program participants who are exempt from paying registration, matriculation, and lab fees. Additional information about apprenticeship programs can be found on the department's website. The top 10 district-supported apprenticeship programs for 2019-20, as reported by the department in terms of enrollment, are listed below. 

Apprenticeship Programs Enrollment
Electrician 4,111
Plumbing Technology 1,265
Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Technology 1,045 
Early Childhood Education 536
Structural Steel Work357
Electrical Service Line and Repair 287
Fire Fighter273
Heavy Equipment Operation218
Sheet Metal Fabrication Technology189
Source: Department of Education.


What type of statewide information is available on student outcomes?

The Department of Education and Department of Economic Opportunity provide information on post-graduation employment outcomes for district certificate program completers.


The 2021 Florida Legislature enacted legislation that makes the following significant changes to school district postsecondary certification programs:

  • Chapter 2021-162, Laws of Florida: Educational Opportunities Leading to Employment specifies that students in certain work-based learning programs will be considered employees of the state for workers' compensation purposes for medically necessary care. 
  • Chapter 2021-164, Laws of Florida: Workforce Related Programs and Services creates a new Open Door Grant Workforce Program that will provide grants to district technical centers to cover up to two thirds of the cost of short-term, high-demand programs. At the time of enrollment, the student is responsible for paying one third of the cost of the program and must sign an agreement to either complete the program or pay an additional one third of the program cost in the event of non-completion.
  • Chapter 2021-164, Laws of Florida: Workforce Related Programs and Services also creates a new Money-Back Guarantee Program that will require each school district to refund the cost of tuition to students who are not able to find a job within 6 months of completing select programs.
  • Going forward, a workforce education program must be approved by the State Board of Education before it is implemented at a district technical center. The Board's criteria must consider local demand as well as local program offerings at public and private institutions to avoid waste and duplication of programs. 

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Florida College System Industry Certifications, Report 19-10, October 2019
School District Postsecondary Industry Certifications, Report 19-09, October 2019
Approximately 42% of Nursing Programs Had Licensure Exam Passage Rates Below the Required Legislative Standard in 2016, Report 17-07, June 2017

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Sections 1004.91 and 1004.92, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Director, Career and Technical Education Programs, 850-245-9020