How to Become a
Teacher in Tennessee


How to Become a Teacher in Tennessee

Are you interested in becoming a teacher in Tennessee? With the growing demand for educators across the state, now is an excellent time to enter the profession. This article will explore the process of becoming a certified teacher in Tennessee, including meeting educational requirements and passing required tests. 

We will also look at the current job market for teachers in Tennessee and discuss some alternative pathways available. The process includes several steps that to complete before you can receive your certification: 

  1. Meet educational background requirements 
  2. Complete an educator preparation program endorsed by the state 
  3. Pass required tests and put in the practical teaching time required for licensing 

Once you have fulfilled these requirements, you will be eligible for a practitioner’s license and can begin your teaching career. We’ll look at these criteria in detail below, including the current job market for teachers in Tennessee and some of the alternative pathways available to gain certification. 

So if you are ready to take the next step towards becoming a certified teacher in Tennessee, keep reading!

Get Your Tennessee Teacher Certification

There are several steps you must take if you want to get your teacher certification in Tennessee. You must complete a bachelor’s degree, finish a teacher certification program, pass several mandatory exams, and apply for a teaching license. Let’s break the stages down even further for you. 

1. Meet Educational Background Requirements to Become a Teacher in Tennessee

There are many academic requirements you need to meet if you want to become a teacher in Tennessee. The most common route to gaining your initial practitioner’s license is to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. 

Accreditation means that the institution has approval for quality assurance purposes and its educational standards are met. In Tennessee, accreditation is determined by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE). 

If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, there are alternative pathways you can take. These include alternative certification programs that allow you to teach as you complete your coursework. You may also be eligible to obtain a transitional teaching license if you have received a degree in an unrelated subject from an accredited institution and plan on teaching it. 

To qualify for this license, you will need to meet particular prerequisites, including:

  • Completing 24 hours of study in the area that you intend to teach
  • Passing the Praxis II exam in your subject area

The Tennessee Board of Education sets all educational requirements for teachers in the state and outlines pathways to becoming certified. To progress from an initial to a professional license, you must demonstrate three years of experience working in an appropriate pre-K-12 instructional setting.

2. Complete an Educator Preparation Program Endorsed by the State

Tennessee requires prospective teachers to complete an approved teacher preparation program to become certified. Depending on your educational background, you may have several pathways open to you. 

For undergraduate students, various bachelor’s degree programs in education-related subjects will prepare them for teaching certification. Post-baccalaureate programs offer alternative routes for those who already have a bachelor’s degree but wish to pursue certification. 

Many of these programs feature internships and student teaching components designed to give participants hands-on experience in the classroom before they receive their licenses. 

Whatever route you choose, ensure it is an approved teacher preparation program that meets the Tennessee State Board of Education’s (SBE) guidelines. 

3. Pass Required Tests to Become a Teacher in Tennessee

You must pass the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) to gain acceptance into any teacher certification program. This test measures basic skills such as reading, writing and mathematics. 

In addition, depending on your subject area of interest, you may also need to take either Praxis II and Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exams. These tests measure competencies related to your chosen field of study. 

It’s important to note that there are specific tests for each subject area, and you must meet a minimum score for your application acceptance.

Teaching Careers in Tennessee

If you are interested in becoming a teacher in Tennessee, you should know that there is a growing demand for educators across the state. As of the end of 2022, there was a shortage of more than 1000 teachers, which means it’s an excellent time to get into the profession. 

In addition to traditional pathways to becoming certified as a teacher in Tennessee, alternative routes allow prospective teachers to gain certification while they work. This includes programs like iTeach’s Online Teacher Certification curriculum that provides job training and mentoring for new teachers. 

Tennessee also offers generous salaries for public school teachers – as of May 2023, the average salary was $52,065. This can range as low as $44,000 and as high as $54,000, depending on experience and location. 

When examining the teaching areas most in demand, there are three categories:

  • Highschool math
  • Special education
  • Primary grades

If you’re ready to start your career in teaching in Tennessee, it’s essential to research what type of certification is required for the position you are interested in. You should also explore the various available pathways to find the best route for obtaining your credential quickly and easily.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alternative Teaching Certification

How do I get a teaching certificate in Tennessee?

To get a teaching certification in Tennessee, you will need to meet the educational background requirements, complete an educator preparation program, pass state-required tests, and undergo a background check.

You must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Alternatively, there are post-baccalaureate pathways and certification programs available that may be more suitable for your goals. Secondly, you should complete an educator preparation program endorsed by the state of Tennessee. These often feature internships and student teaching components designed to provide hands-on experience in the classroom before licensing.

Thirdly, you must pass necessary tests, such as the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) and Praxis II exams, which measure your competency in your chosen field. Once you have completed these steps, you can apply for teaching certification in Tennessee. When applying, prepare to submit for federal and state background checks, as well as your fingerprints. You will also be required to send your official transcripts of your bachelor’s program and your educator preparation program, not to mention the results of your Praxis II and PPST exams. 

How do I renew my teacher certification in Tennessee? 

To renew your teaching certification in Tennessee, you must accumulate 60 Professional Development Points (PDPs). PDPs are awarded for activities that enhance a teacher’s professional development, such as workshops, seminars and other continuing education courses. You can find more information on the TDE website or consult with your local school board about how to earn PDPs. The initial practitioner teaching license is valid for three years. After accumulating three years of teaching time, you may apply to upgrade to the Professional version, which lasts for six years. 

To renew this license every six years, you will need an additional 60 PDPS. It’s important to note that professional development activities vary from state to state, so it is best to consult with your local school board or the Tennessee Board of Education for more specific information on how to obtain PDPS in your area. Additionally, you should keep track of all PDPs earned and document them, as they will be necessary when applying for renewal. To ensure that your license remains valid throughout this process, complete all requirements before the expiration date of your current certification.  

How long does my teacher certification last in Tennessee?

Your teacher certification in Tennessee lasts six years.

Can I teach in Tennessee without certification?

No, it is not possible to teach in Tennessee without certification. All teachers in the state must meet educational and licensing requirements set forth by the Tennessee Board of Education. This includes holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or completing a post-baccalaureate or alternative certification program that meets the board’s criteria. In addition, all prospective teachers must pass required tests such as the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) and Praxis II exams related to their subject area of interest. While alternative pathways are available for those new to teaching, they still require applicants to possess certain qualifications and fulfill specific requirements.

How do I get approved to teach in Tennessee if I have a teaching certificate from another state?

If you’re a certified educator from another state looking to teach in Tennessee, there are three pathways you can take depending on the license level you seek. The first pathway is the Practitioner License for those with an out-of-state initial level license, valid for three years. This option requires a bachelor’s degree, a recommendation from the out-of-state Educator Preparation Program (EPP) where you completed your program, and official transcripts of all higher education credits. However, assessment scores aren’t required initially but will be necessary for license renewal or advancement. 

The second pathway is similar to the first. It requires you to obtain a Practitioner License with a recommendation from an out-of-state EPP and to submit qualifying scores on all the necessary assessments at the time of application. This route also requires a bachelor’s degree and official transcripts. The third and final pathway is for educators with a full, valid, and renewable professional-level license from another state. If your license is equivalent to Tennessee’s Professional license, you could be issued a Tennessee Professional 6-Year license. This route still requires a bachelor’s degree and official transcripts.

Can you become a teacher in Tennessee without a degree in education?

Yes. If you have a bachelor’s degree that is not in education, you can become a teacher in Tennessee by completing an alternative teacher certification program.

In lieu of a degree in education, you can become a teacher in Tennessee by enrolling in an alternative certification program. You will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but it will not have to be in education. If your degree directly relates to a certification field, the program will identify that field as your content area. Once you enroll, you have the option of taking a certification test in a different content area.

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