How To Become a Teacher In Tennessee

When investigating how to become a teacher in Tennessee, it is important to note there are three broad categories of teacher licensing: traditional, alternative and occupational.

Traditional and alternative licensing require a minimum of a bachelor degree, while the occupational license will require an associate degree and several years of recent work experience. To obtain a traditional license, applicants must complete a state-approved teacher-preparation program from a college or university, or via online degree programs. Prospective teachers in Tennessee also need to pass the Praxis series of tests. Read on for requirements of each certificate type.

Traditional License

There are two types of traditional licenses for teaching in Tennessee-apprentice and professional.

Apprentice License

Prospective teachers for Tennessee should note that initial teaching licenses in this state are not completed by the student. An apprentice license application is completed by the institution where the candidate completed the requirements. The form will list the program completed, Praxis scores and student teaching-experience. The apprentice license is valid for five years.

Professional License

To qualify for the professional license in Tennessee, applicants must teach in three out of the five years in which they hold an apprentice license. They must also have successful evaluations in three out of five years. The state bases evaluations on 50 percent observation, 35 percent student growth and 15 percent achievement test data. The test used is chosen by the educator and supervisor from a list of state-approved options.

Alternative License

Alternative licensing includes a transitional license. The superintendent of a Tennessee school system must request it on behalf of the prospective employee. Not a full teaching license, it can be used while the new employee completes all license requirements. It is granted year by year and may be issued two times within three years.

These are the requirements to qualify for a transitional certificate:

  • Bachelor degree from a regionally accredited university.
  • Intent-to-hire letter from a Tennessee school district.
  • Acceptable major in the field to be hired, or a minimum of 24 semester hours.
  • In lieu of the above requirement, the candidate can pass the Praxis II for that content area.
  • Attendance in a state-approved teacher-preparation program in the field hired with the intent to graduate.

Occupational License

An occupational license allows people to teach in Tennessee without completing a teacher-preparation program. Those with established careers in health science or trade and industry can qualify.

Apprentice Occupational Educator’s License

After determining if your career qualifies, you can apply for this license. You will need to have a four-year degree from a college or university, or from one of the online degree programs.

The prospective health science teacher must have three years of successful employment in the most recent five years. Qualifying jobs might include hospitals, medical offices and nursing homes. Candidates will need at least an associate degree and certification in the job area.

Candidates for the trade and industry teaching license must document five years of appropriate service in the most recent eight years. They must have a high school diploma or pass the general education development (GED) test.

The apprentice occupational education license will be valid for three years.

Professional Occupational Educator License

A professional occupational educator license can be obtained during the three-year apprenticeship. It will require an evaluation of skills by an approved university. This is done right away after becoming an apprentice educator. The university will then determine specific courses for advancement. After completing the required course work, applications for this 10-year license can be submitted.

Stats on Teaching in Tennessee

There are 137 school districts in the state of Tennessee. Average annual pay for teachers in Tennessee is $47,210, which is among the higher teacher salaries for the Southeast U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Tennessee had 1,803 schools in 2011, with 66,558 teachers educating 987,422 students. That equates to a student-to-teacher ratio of 14.84-to-1, which is below the national average of 15.97-to-1.