How to Become a Teacher in Tennessee

how to become a teacher in Tennessee

Now is the time to become a Tennessee teacher. In five easy steps, you can transition into a new career. Teaching is a unique profession because it allows you to change the lives of others. If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, combining a state and board-approved Educator Preparation Program with required state certification tests will qualify you for Tennessee State Licensure.

This is not a journey to take alone. Use the links in this guide; reach out to the suggested resources and organizations. Organize your steps and find partners.

Becoming a Teacher in Tennessee

1. Obtain a Teaching Degree

To become a Tennessee-certified teacher, you will need a bachelor’s degree. If you major in education at an accredited institution recognized by the State Board of Education, your university will guide you through the steps outlined below. If your degree is in an area (other than education), you must find an approved teacher preparation program to assist you with each step.

2. Complete Teacher Preparation Program Requirements

Candidates must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. In Tennessee, approved preparation programs are called Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs). You can view a list of approved EPPs through the Tennessee Department of Education.

3. Take the Required Testing

Test registration takes place on the Praxis website. All candidates seeking a Tennessee Teacher License must take at least two initial exams:

  • edTPA or Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT)
  • Praxis Content Knowledge Assessment(s)

4. Receive Recommendation for Licensure and Apply for Certification

Tennessee uses a tiered system for licensure. If you completed your teacher licensure out-of-state, Tennessee offers three pathways for Tennessee Teacher Licensure. A Practitioner Teaching License is valid for three years and can be renewed once. A Practitioner Occupational License is valid for three years and can be renewed. All candidates must be recommended for licensure through their teacher preparation program. You will create an account on TNCompass to start the application process for a Tennessee teaching license once you have completed the steps needed for licensure.

5. Apply to a Teaching Position

Once you have received your teaching license, you can apply for a teaching position. You can research specific districts by using their website to view job listings or fill out the TN Teacher Jobs Connection form to search all educator job openings in Tennessee. To have a successful job search, you must write a resume and cover letter tailored to your desired position. Also, think of at least two professors, colleagues, or supervisors who can serve as references for you during your job search.

How to Become a Teacher at Various Grade Levels

Here are the lists of specialty content knowledge assessment choices by grade level.

  • Early Childhood PreK-3 and Elementary School K-5: 
    • (5001) Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects K-5 (all subtests)
    • (5002) Reading and Language Arts Subtest K-5
    • (5003) Mathematics Subtest K-5
    • (5004) Social Studies Subtest K-5
    • (5005) Science Subtest  K-5
    • (5205) Teaching Reading: Elementary 
    • (5024) Education of Young Children PreK-3
    • (5025) Early Childhood Education PreK-3
  • Middle School Education 6-8:
    • (5047) Middle School English Language Arts
    • (5164) Middle School Mathematics
    • (5442) Middle School Science 
    • (5089) Middle School Social Studies
    • (5205) Teaching Reading: Elementary 
  • Secondary Education 6-12: 
    • (5235) Biology: Content Knowledge
    • (5245) Chemistry: Content Knowledge
    • (5571) Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge
    • (5911) Economics
    • (5038) English Language Arts: Content Knowledge
    • (5921) Geography
    • (5931) Government/Political Science
    • (5941) World and US History: Content Knowledge
    • (5165) Mathematics
    • (5265) Physics: Content Knowledge
    • (5391) Psychology
    • (5952) Psychology
    • (5952) Sociology
    • (5221) Speech Communication: Content Knowledge
  • All Grades 
    • (0634) ASL Proficiency Interview 
    • (5135) Art: Content and Analysis
    • (5665) Chinese (Mandarin): World Language
    • (5652) Computer Science
    • (5174) French: World Language
    • (5183) German: World Language 
    • (5358) Gifted Education
    • (5601) Latin
    • (5114) Music: Content and Instruction
    • (5095) Physical Education: Content and Design
    • (5195) Spanish: World Language
    • (5641) Theatre
  • English as a Second Language
    • (5362) English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • Administrator/Instructional Leadership
    • (6990) School Leaders Licensure Assessment
  • Special Education
    • (5545) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications K-12
    • (5354) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications PreK-12
    • (5272) Special Education: Education of Deaf and Hearing Students PreK-12
    • (5543) Special Education Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications K-12
    • (5691) Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood PreK-3
    • (5331) Speech-Language Pathology PreK-12
    • (5282) Special Education: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments PreK-12
  • Instructional Support Personnel PreK-12
    • (5311) Library Media Specialist
    • (5302) Reading Specialist
    • (5421) Professional School Counselor
    • (5402) School Psychologist
  • Career and Technical Education 
    • (5701) Agriculture 6-12
    • (5101) Business Education: Content Knowledge 6-12
    • (5122) Family and Consumer Sciences 5-12
    • (5561) Marketing Education 6-12
  • Early Childhood Education/Special Education (Integrated Endorsement)
    • (5023) Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Birth-K

Renewing Your Teaching Certification

Once you obtain your Tennessee Teaching License, you must follow the renewal requirements dependent on which Tennessee license you to hold. To renew a professional license, educators must have completed 60 professional development points (PDPs). Complete these steps on the TNCompass website using the Licensure Renewal Application Checklist.

Teaching Job Outlook and Salary in Tennessee

The average base salary of a teacher in Tennessee was $38,000 in 2021-2022. The Tennessee State Board passed a 5.3% increase for a licensed personnel’s minimum salary to $40,000 in 2022-2023. Be sure to research district pay scales before filling out your job applications. These pay scales vary and will be on each district’s website.

Tennessee Districts With the Highest Average Salaries

According to the Tennessee Education Association, the following five school districts offered the top pay for Tennessee teachers in 2020-2021. The average pay for teachers in these school districts ranged from $62,00 to $63,000 annually.

TN School for the Blind- SS ($63,664)

Murfreesboro City Schools ($63,559)

Johnson City Schools ($63,327)

Kingsport City Schools ($63,304)

Oak Ridge Schools ($62,504)

Can You Be a Teacher Without a Degree in Tennessee?

The short answer is no. A bachelor’s degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program are required to be a fully-certified classroom teacher in Tennessee. However, you can become a teacher’s assistant by earning an associate’s degree or completing two years of college. A teacher’s assistant provides additional help and instruction to students. Another option for becoming a teacher’s assistant in Tennessee is to take and pass the Praxis ParaPro Exam.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching in Tennessee

Which teaching positions are in-demand?

The US Department of Education publishes a yearly list of Tennessee teacher shortage areas. Mathematics 6-12, Social Studies 6-12, Language Arts 6-12, Art and Music Education Pre-K-12, Science 6-12, Health and Physical Fitness Pre-K-12, Support Staff- Library and Media Pre-K-12, World Languages Pre-K-12, Early Childhood Pre-K-5, Special Education Pre-K-12, and English as a Second Language Pre-K-12 teachers were on the state-wide list for the greatest need for the 2022-2023 school-year. High-demand teacher needs can be accessed on the US Department of Education website.

What is the average salary for teachers in Tennessee?

According to salary.com, in 2023, the average Tennessee teacher made $51,180. However, most teachers typically fall between an average salary of $42,000 and $62,000. Depending on the criteria for averaging districts, the numbers will differ. Generally, teachers in rural areas make less, and teachers in urban or suburban areas make more.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Tennessee?

Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, which takes approximately four years, you will then need to complete a state-approved educator preparation program. When you finish your teacher preparation program, you will take your initial Tennessee licensure examinations and be recommended for a Tennessee teacher licensure. Then, you will be ready to teach in Tennessee!

How much does it cost to become a teacher in Tennessee?

Becoming a teacher in Tennessee requires a financial commitment. The main initial cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree will vary widely from person to person. If you are majoring in education or are going directly into the field upon graduation, look into grant and loan programs.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree, other costs associated with becoming a Tennessee teacher include the required teacher preparation program, state certification tests ($90-$200 per exam), and any other state application or fingerprinting fees. Plan for the financial costs, and your teaching career will be off to a great start.

What other certifications can teachers in Tennessee obtain?

The short answer is…many! After receiving certification, you can take additional certification tests and become certified in other teaching areas. Endorsements may be added by taking the Praxis exam(s). You can find a list of all Tennessee Assessment Requirements on the Praxis website.


Are you ready to become a Tennessee-certified teacher? 240 can help! 240Tutoring.com offers FREE Tennessee exam resources to help you master your certification tests. When you subscribe to 240 Tutoring, you will gain access to every 240 Praxis Study Guide for Tennessee for one monthly price. With the 240 Tutoring Pass Guarantee, it is no wonder so many are choosing 240 to pass their Tennessee exams. We wish you the best on your journey to becoming a Tennessee-certified teacher!

Interested in becoming a teacher in a different state? Check out these additional articles:

How to Become a Teacher in Texas
How To Become a Teacher in North Carolina
How To Become a Teacher in Florida
How to Become a Teacher in Ohio
How to Become a Teacher in Illinois
How to Become a Teacher in Virginia
How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin
How to Become a Teacher in Colorado
How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas