The Tennessee Teaching and Certification Resource
For those looking to enter the Tennessee education system as educators, there are several pathways to obtain a Tennessee teacher certification. The certification process is overseen by the Office of Educator Licensing within the state’s Department of Education and is outlined in detail below.
How to Become a Teacher in Tennessee
In order to be eligible to earn a Tennessee teacher certification and teach early childhood, elementary or secondary education in the Tennessee public school system, candidates must provide proof that they have completed the necessary education and testing requirements set forth by the Tennessee Department of Education. Like most states, Tennessee requires that all teachers hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an appoved Tennesee teachers certification program at an accredited school.
- Teacher Assisting
Most applicants apply for the state’s Apprentice license, which is valid for five years and is renewable. In some cases, candidates who have not yet fulfilled all requirements for a standard teaching license may still be eligible to teach under Tennessee’s alternative route to teacher certification.
For those experienced teachers who hold an out-of-state teacher certification, Tennessee reciprocity may be possible provided applicants fulfill the remaining requirements. For more information on becoming a certified teacher in Tennessee through reciprocity as well as the Tennessee teacher certification renewal process, please contact the state’s Office of Educator Licensing.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Tennessee
Candidates for teaching certificates in Tennessee should confirm that their chosen teacher preparatory program is provided by an accredited school. Tennessee will not issue teacher certificates unless applicants can prove that they have completed a program at an accredited institution. There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education, that accredit schools in the US. Therefore, applicants should first confirm this regional accreditation before committing to a program. For anyone interested in distance programs, any school that offers online teaching certification programs should also be certified by its corresponding regional accreditation agency.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is responsible for accrediting schools in Tennessee. When evaluating potential Tennessee teachers certification programs, applicants should confirm that the school is SACS-accredited in order to be eligible to work in the Tennessee school system.
Additionally, there is a national accreditation organization that most states look to as a marker of high quality in teacher education sector. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the result of the recent merger of two former accreditation agencies, TEAC and NCATE. These two former organizations were recognized by the US Department of Education and through CAEP will continue to serve as a standard for rigorous standards in the teacher education field.
See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Tennessee.
- I want to be a teacher in Tennessee, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Tennessee’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
Tennessee Teacher Education Requirements
In order to obtain Tennessee teaching certification a prospective teacher must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute of higher learning and complete a teacher preparation program approved by the Tennessee Department of Education. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree who have not participated in a Tennessee teacher certification program may qualify for an Alternative/Transitional License until such time that the education requirements are fulfilled.
According to the Occupational Supply and Demand Survey, Tennessee will have 4,596 annual job openings in education and library related fields through 2018. In fall 2008 and 2007, the National Center for Education Statistics listed 64,926 public school and 10,110 private school teachers employed in Tennessee. The average starting teaching salary is $32,525 and the average overall teaching salary is $45,891, the 6th lowest among US states. The NEA also notes teacher shortages in Spanish, ESL, math, science and special education. For updates on policy changes, budget allocation or local employment opportunity, visit the Tennessee Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.
Tennessee Teacher Testing Requirements
The state of Tennessee requires that all applicants for initial instructional certification present passing scores on the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) as well as the Praxis II: Subject Assessments/Specialty Area tests in order to receive a certificate to teach in Tennessee public school systems. The specific tests the candidate is required to take will be based on the grade level and content area they wish to teach. Teachers from any state who received their teaching certificates before 1984, however, are exempt from the testing requirement.
Additional Tennessee Teacher Certification Requirements
All applicants applying for a Tennessee educator certificate must submit fingerprints and undergo a state and federal criminal background check before they can be issued a certification to teach. The process can be started by registering for a fingerprinting card at Tennessee’s Department of Health.
Tennessee Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once all of the steps towards teaching certification in Tennessee are completed, applicants should send in their applicants to the state’s Department of Education. All applications should include the following:
- Submission of background clearance
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree
- Proof of teacher program completion at an accredited school
- Passing score on the required examinations
- Completed application for teaching certification in Tennessee
- Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee
Office of Educator Licensing
Tennessee Department of Education
12th Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on Tennessee teacher certification.
Tennessee Teacher Salary and Jobs
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Elementary School Teachers||28,530||$46,740|
|Middle School Teachers||12,120||$47,210|
|Secondary School Teachers||18,360||$48,330|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.
Tennessee Teacher Interviews
Interview with Dana Lester, Tennessee First Grade Teacher
Interview with Mary Pitner, Tennessee Second and Third Grade Teacher
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Tennessee
Question: What are the requirements to obtain a transitional license for teaching in Memphis city schools?
Answer: Memphis City Schools will apply for a one year transitional license on your behalf once you have been offered a position. The license can be good for three years and must be renewed yearly. Successful renewal is dependent on admission to a Teacher Education Program.
Question: How can I become a substitute teacher in Tennessee?
Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Tennessee, you must apply with individual districts. Each district sets its own requirements for substitutes, which may range from a college degree, some college coursework, or just having a high school diploma.
Teaching and Education Programs
- Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction
- B.S. in Education / Elementary Education
- A.A. in Elementary Education
- M.A. in Education/Elementary Teacher Education
- And more...
- M.Ed. Teaching & Learning: History
- AA in Education (Non-Licensure)
- CERT: Preschool
- MA Teaching: Middle Grades
- And more...
- Early Childhood Education
- MS in Education (for Existing Teachers Grades K-12)
- MA in Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers Grades 5-12)
- Education, MS - Teaching and Learning (Online)
- Education, MS (Online)
- Education, MS - Teaching and Learning
- Career College Administration Graduate Certificate
- And more...
1. Tennessee State Department of Education: http://www.tn.gov/education/
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000
Page edited by Charles Sipe.