Become a Teacher in Tennessee

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Teaching in Tennessee Snapshot

$55,060Secondary School Teacher Salary
$53,540Elementary School Teacher Salary
$9,184Public School Spending Per Student

All career and salary information pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 pupil expenditure information was provided by Governing

TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 741-2731

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Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Tennessee

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. Teach.com makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. (Last update: 04/28/2020)

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Prerequisite Coursework in Tennessee

Teacher education programs typically consist of two elements: curricula and fieldwork. Curricula generally includes instruction on fundamental skills, pedagogy (the science of teaching), and preparation for researching, designing and implementing learning experiences in a particular field of study. Fieldwork often includes field observations, internships, student teaching, or a combination of all three.

To teach in the United States, certified teachers must generally possess a bachelor’s degree, at the least. Some states require that specific credit hours be earned for instruction in various specialty areas. Tennessee does not list specific course or credit hour requirements, but every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Tennessee Department of Education for more information.

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Tennessee Teacher Certification Programs

To earn your teaching credential you will have to complete the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program. A list of accredited teacher preparation programs in Tennessee can be found on the state Department of Education’s website.

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Required Tests for Tennessee

To become a certified teacher in Tennessee, you must successfully complete the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests, in addition to any relevant Praxis tests for Specific Licensure Areas. You also need to complete the Principles of Learning and Teaching test. You can find a full list of tests that Tennessee teachers need to take on the Praxis website.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting Teach.com's

To earn your Tennessee teaching credential you will have to complete the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program.

To learn more about earning your Tennessee teaching credential, visit the state Department of Education. Read more about getting your teaching credential in general on the Teach and Certification Map websites.

Tennessee teachers start out with anPractitioner Teacher License, which is valid for the first three years and may be renewed once. After at least three years of teaching experience, teachers can apply for their Professional Teacher License, which is valid for six years and may be renewed an indefinite number of times. If you already hold a valid teaching credential from another state, you may be eligible to earn your Tennessee credential through the interstate reciprocity.

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Earn recognition of your ability to develop and deliver a memorable teaching experience when you receive a premier certificate from Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX, upon successful course completion.

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Alternative Certification in Tennessee

Individuals who have graduated from an accredited college or university, but possess a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education and have not earned a traditional teaching certificate, can still teach in the state of Tennessee by earning an alternative certification and fulfilling requirements set forth by the state.  For more information, contact the Tennessee Department of Education.

Southeast Region Troops to Teachers is one example of an alternative certification pathway in Tennessee. The program is dedicated to assisting military personnel transition into new careers as public school teachers in high-needs schools.

Tennessee Teacher Certification Information & Links

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Transferring Your Certification

Certification Reciprocity in Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Education may award Practitioner Licenses to out-of-state applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree, have completed a preparation program approved by the State Board of Education, and have verified content knowledge. To inquire about your specific situation, contact the Tennessee Department of Education.

To find out what other state teaching licenses can be used in Tennessee, check out our Teacher Certification Reciprocity page on Teach.com.

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Jobs, Benefits, and Opportunities for Teachers in Tennessee

Tennessee Teaching Jobs

The Tennessee Department of Education directs educators looking for teaching jobs in Tennessee to Teachers-Teachers, an online database of postings for educational positions. Users can search by position, grade level, location, and other filters to narrow results. Troops-to-Teachers is another recruitment program for Tennessee teachers.

Learn more about finding a teaching job on Teach.com.

Tennessee Teacher Salary and Incentives

According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers in Tennessee make an average of around $50,660 per year. Specific salary schedules in Tennessee will vary by district.Learn more about teacher salaries on Teach.com.

Tennessee Teacher Benefits and Retirement

Retirement and disability benefits are provided for Tennessee teachers through the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS). Eligibility for retirement is dependent upon a combination of age and years of service in the profession.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on Teach.com.

Tennessee Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage area is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as “an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which … there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.” The Department allows states to identify their own teacher shortage areas, but encourages them to follow a prescribed methodology based on unfilled teaching positions, teaching positions filled by instructors with irregular certifications, and positions filled by teachers certified in other subject areas. Shortages in Tennessee for the 2020 to 2021 year include the following:

  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Early Childhood
  • English as a Second Language
  • Health and Physical Fitness
  • Language Arts
  • Library Specialist
  • Mathematics 
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Education
  • World Languages (Grades 7-12)

Financial Aid in Tennessee

Tennessee residents are eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the TEACH Grant, which offer financial aid to students in return for agreements to teach in high-need schools.

Learn more about how to finance your Master's degree on Teach.com.

Career Advancement

Professional Development for Tennessee Teachers

A variety of professional development resources for educators in Tennessee are provided by the Tennessee Department of Education. Professional development opportunities offered by the department include study councils, guidebooks, and programs, like The Jason Foundation, which provides suicide prevention training for educators at no cost.

Benefits of a Master's Degree in Tennessee

It is no longer enough to have years of teaching experience. Following the No Child Left Behind Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and other academic quantification measures, the careers of teachers increasingly depend on the results they produce in the classroom. A master's degree in the field of education can give you more educational theory and classroom skills, as well as additional hands-on student teaching experience with a mentor.

After a master’s program, you may be able to achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security, as well as higher pay. Teacher salary in Tennessee increases by about $3,000 or more for those who hold a master’s.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on Teach.com.

Explore Sponsored Program Options in Education

Featured Online programs
University Name Type of Program Program Description
University of Southern California Master of Arts in Teaching The online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to become a transformative K–12 teacher. Through live online classes and enriching field experiences in your community, you can earn your MAT in less than 18 months without relocating.
Harvard University's Bok Center Advanced Certification in Teaching The 8-week Teaching and Learning Strategies for Higher Education online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.

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Last Updated May 2020