Tennessee Teacher License

Tennessee Teacher License

In order to work as a teacher in Tennessee, you need to meet several requirements, and the first one is to get your Tennessee teacher license. There are various ways to get the certification, it only depends on your level of education and experience.

Here is a guide that will help you to understand which way is right for you at any level of your career. Whether you are just in the beginning and want to know about the teacher licensure process in Tennessee, or you’re an experienced teacher and want to get a teaching license in Tennessee or get an advanced certification. Continue reading and you will get all the information that you need.

Requirements for Tennessee Teachers

Teacher certifications are divided into two levels by The Tennessee Department of Education (DOE).

Practitioner License

This license is an initial or entry-level license. When you are a new or out-of-state teacher you first get this license. The practitioner license is provided for three years and you can renew it only one time, so altogether you will get this license for 6 years.
To be eligible to get this license, you need to be at least 18 years and have a bachelor’s degree.

Professional Teacher License

The most advanced teacher license in Tennessee is professional. After having a practitioner license and working as a teacher for three years, you can advance it by getting the professional one. But this is not the end, also you need to have the recommendation of the Director of Schools or earn 30 Professional Development Points (PDPs). You can get these points by taking continuing education credits․

Minimum Education Requirements for Tennessee Teachers

First of all, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. The degree major must be in the same subject that you want to teach or to be connected to the areas that you want to work. Additionally, you need to take a board-approved teacher training program. You can take it in a state other than Tennessee. And also, this program has to be in the same subject or an area where you want to work.

The Tennessee Department of Education issues a list of approved educator preparation programs based on school and program type.

Student Teaching

Before completing your training program you are required to get some students teaching experience. This experience will help you to practice your teaching skills under the supervision of an experienced teacher. Also, make sure that you get experience in a grade or in a subject in which you are planning to work.

Pass Tennessee Certification Exams

In order to get your Tennessee teaching license you need to pass two Praxis exams: the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and the Subject Area Assessment. Both exams have different testing options. You need to choose the one in the same subject as you are planning to teach.


This exam has different testing options, including early childhood, grades K-6, grades 5-9, grades 7-12.

The subjects for this exam are:

  • Students as Learners
  • Assessment
  • Instructional Process
  • Professional Development
  • Leadership
  • Community.

Depending on what is your specific teaching area the levels of the questions will be different. Also, be ready to pass the instructional scenarios that will be in the same subjects.

Subject Area Assessment

This exam has much more subject area assessment than the PLT. This test includes subjects from Elementary Education K-6, up to more specific subjects such as Economics 6-12. To find out which test is for you, check with your training program.

How to Apply for a teaching license in Tennessee?

If you take your teacher training program in Tennessee state, you don’t need to complete your application on your own. Instead of you, your training program will complete and submit it, via the TNCompass portal. With this application, you also need to submit a personal affirmation form.

But, if you take your training program outside of the state you must complete the application by yourself.

Before completing the application you need to provide all official transcripts and test scores, whether you are an in-state or out-state applicant.

Additional Requirements for Tennessee Teacher License

Before you will be able to get your license you need to provide fingerprints and undergo a state and federal criminal background check. To start this program you need to do a fingerprinting card registration at the Tennessee Department of Health.

Specialty Certifications

As it was mentioned early in the article, there are some basic requirements that you must meet before starting the application, but the exact testing assessments that you need to do are different and connecting with the license type.

Early Childhood Education

To get an Early childhood education (ECE) in Tennessee you need to pass the PLT for Early Childhood. And then take three subject assessments. The ECE include grade Pre-K-3.

  • Education of Young Children: This consists of 120 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-responses.
  • Elementary Education Content Knowledge: The exam includes the basic knowledge of your content.
  • Teaching Reading: Elementary Education: This one consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-response questions.

Elementary School Teacher

To get an elementary school teacher’s license you also need to take four exams. Two are the same as ECE the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge and Teaching Reading: Elementary Education.

Middle and Secondary School Teachers

In Middle school, there are specific subjects and for that subjects, there are specific teachers. That’s why middle school teachers have more options for licenses.
First of all, you need to take the PLT for grades 5-9 and the Teaching Reading: Elementary Education. After you need to pass the Middle School: Content Knowledge exam. This includes literature and language studies, mathematics, history/social studies, and science.
The fourth exam that you need to pass gives you more options. This exam covers the subjects that you are planning to teach.

  • English/Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

What states accept a Tennessee teaching license?

Tennessee State participates in both the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education which includes all states. So the Tennessee teaching license is accepted in all the states.

What is a transitional teaching license in TN?

The transitional teaching license is an alternative license type that allows the college graduates without professional preparation for teaching, to teach at the school system, but they need to be offered teaching positions in Tennessee.

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