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Teaching License Updated August 10, 2014

Tennessee Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Tennessee

By Room 241 Team August 10, 2014

Each state requires different criteria for teachers, but all of them require a teaching license. If you want to teach in Tennessee, there are several types of licenses you should be aware of. You will also need to understand how each license type works as well as the requirements for obtaining them.

Requirements for certified teachers in Tennessee

To obtain a teaching certification in Tennessee, you must complete a teacher preparation program from a state-accredited university. You will need to pick an area of interest during your education in which to specialize.

If you attend a school in a state other than Tennessee, you must fill out the out-of-state application and provide a certified copy of your transcript to prove that you meet the requirements of this state. Tennessee has what is known as an Interstate agreement. It also has a National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education agreement. These agreements cover all states, allowing those who have graduated from an accredited program or hold a teacher’s license in a different state to more easily qualify to teach in Tennessee. Some extra education may be required, which you will be notified about when you apply for your license.

If you want to teach in Tennessee, but have not attended an approved teacher preparation course, you may also qualify to teach under a transitional license.

All applicants seeking initial licensure or adding endorsements to become highly qualified must pass applicable PRAXIS exams. All initial applicants are required to pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exams.

Tennessee jobs for licensed teachers

Tennessee lists eight different licenses for teachers.

  1. Apprentice License (Traditional): You’re a first-time teacher with a degree in education. This license is valid for five years.
  2. Transitional License: You’re a first time teacher who does not have a degree in education, but has a bachelor’s degree or higher in the area you wish to teach. You have secured a teaching job with a Tennessee public school, and that school or district has applied for this license on your behalf. This license is valid for one year, and can be renewed twice only.
  3. Professional License: You have taught for three years under an Apprentice, Transitional, or Out-of-State License, and have submitted proof of a positive evaluation. This license has continuing education requirements (unless you have received a Master’s degree) and is valid for ten years.
  4. Occupational License: You are a professional who wishes to teach in school, and can provide proof of work experience and professional licenses.
  5. JROTC License: You are a retired or non-commissioned officer who wishes to teach JROTC at the high school level.
  6. Interim B License: You are still completing the required PRAXIS series exams, but have secured teaching employment, and your school or district has applied for this license on your behalf.
  7. Out-of-State License: You have a teaching license from another state, and wish to teach in Tennessee.
  8. Apprentice Special Group License: You want to work as a guidance counselor, social worker, psychologist, or speech pathologist within the school.
  9. Administrator License: You have completed a graduate program at an accredited institution, have a valid teaching license in Tennessee and have verifiable teaching experience.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Tennessee for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • English (Grades 7 -12)
  • English as a Second Language (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Mathematics (Grades 7 -12)
  • Science (Grades 7 -12)
  • Social Studies (Grades 7 -12)
  • Special Education (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • World Languages (Grades 7 – 12)

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Tennessee

Tennessee participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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