The path to becoming a teacher in Tennessee generally begins with a bachelor's degree in education or a similar field, though there may be other possible routes available. Commonly, aspiring teachers supplement their bachelor's degree with a period of training as a student teacher. They are then usually required to pass a licensing exam before starting their careers. For those who have already earned teaching certification in another state, Tennessee has a path that can help them become licensed to teach in the state.
Areas of Specialization for Teachers in Tennessee
Applicants for Tennessee teaching licenses apply for a Practitioner License, valid for three years. Licenses are available in many endorsement areas, which are organized by grade level and subject matter. Some examples of endorsement areas granted for Tennessee teaching licenses include the following:
- Elementary Education (K-6)
- World Languages (6-12)
- English Language Learners (PreK-12)
- PE/Health (K-12)
- Fine Arts (K-12)
Teaching licenses are also available in occupational endorsement areas such as:
- Culinary arts
- Graphic communications
- Manufacturing technology
Earning an endorsement in a more specialized area, like Special Education, JROTC, or Speech/Language Pathology, may require additional education. For more information about the types of teaching licenses and endorsement areas available, you can visit the endorsement codes page of Tennessee's Department of Education website.
Tennessee Teacher Licensing Requirements
Tennessee teaching licenses generally require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree in education or a related field. Aspiring teachers must complete "a state-approved educator preparation program" and earn a recommendation from that program in order to apply for a teaching license.
They may also be required to complete the Praxis I assessment before entering a teaching program. Applicants for teaching licenses must pass the required Praxis II exams before they can proceed with their applications. This includes a Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) portion and separate tests for each subject area the applicant plans to teach.
The state of Tennessee does not require background checks or fingerprinting for aspiring teachers. However, individual schools or districts may ask prospective teachers to undergo background checks.
For more information on licensing requirements, read more on the Tennessee Department of Education's teacher licensing page.
Out-of-State Educators in Tennessee
For educators who earned their teaching license out-of-state, there are requirements that must be fulfilled before they can teach in Tennessee. An out-of-state application must be filed, along with copies of all transcripts and a copy of your current teaching license. Full details on how out-of-state educators can earn a credential to teach in Tennessee can be found on the Department of Education website.
Alternate Paths to Teaching in Tennessee
As of September 2016, the state of Tennessee stopped issuing both the Apprentice License and the Transitional License. While Tennessee is home to two Teach for America programs, in Memphis and Nashville, those who wish to secure a traditional teaching career in Tennessee can follow the path outlined above for the Practitioner License.
- Employment and Licensing, State of Tennessee Department of Education, http://www.tn.gov/education/section/licensing
- Endorsement Codes, State of Tennessee Department of Education, http://www.tn.gov/education/topic/endorsement-code-listings
- Overview of Tennessee Testing Requirements, Educational Testing Series, http://www.ets.org/praxis/tn