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High School Teaching Requirements in Tennessee

High school teachers prepare students for life after high school, which includes preparing students to continue their education or to move on to the job market. Read on for a job description, the education and testing requirements for initial licensure, and license advancement information for teaching in Tennessee.

Becoming a Licensed High School Teacher in Tennessee

The initial teaching license in Tennessee is the 3-year Practitioner License. Those who want to teach high school in Tennessee will, depending upon the subject, become certified to teach grades 6-12, 9-12, PreK-12, or K-12. This article provides a brief job description, an overview of the requirements for the Practitioner License, and the requirements for advancement to the Professional License.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution;
State-approved educator preparation program
Exams Required ETS, NES, or Tennessee Language Center content assessment corresponding to endorsement area;
edTPA or Principles of Learning and Teaching pedagogical assessment corresponding to endorsement area
License Validity Period Practitioner License: 3 years; may be renewed once
Advancement Requirements Professional License: 3 years' teaching;
30 professional development points or recommendation from director of schools
Mean Salary for High School teachers in Tennessee (2018)* $53,620*
Job Growth for High School Teachers (2018-2028, nationwide)* 4%*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

High school teachers will generally teach grades 9-12. They usually teach in one subject area. High school teachers design lessons and course materials, instruct students, and assess student progress. Outside of class time, they meet with students to provide additional help and with parents to report on student progress. They also attend meetings, courses, and workshops. High school teachers may also coach a team or advise a club.


Those who want to become high school teachers in Tennessee must first complete a state-approved educator preparation program. Admission into such a program may require a passing score on a Praxis core academic test. Students will receive instruction in multiple content areas, the Tennessee Academic Standards, the teacher code of ethics, and the state-approved educator evaluation framework. Students will also complete coursework in their chosen teaching area. Programs will also include student teaching, an internship, or job-embedded clinical practice. In order to apply for initial licensure, students must receive a recommendation from the institution where they completed their educator preparation program.

Testing Requirements for the Practitioner License

Candidates must pass the content assessment and the pedagogical assessment which correspond to their teaching and endorsement area. Candidates must qualify for at least one area of endorsement. Depending upon their teaching area, candidates for secondary education licensure will take Praxis content assessments for grades 6-12 or grades 9-12. Candidates for 'all grades' (PreK-12 or K-12) licenses, such as physical education and music, will take the content exams corresponding to their teaching area and will be licensed to teach in all grades, including secondary grades. Some candidates may take content area exams through the National Evaluation Services (NES) or the Tennessee Language Center. Candidates must also pass a pedagogical assessment in their endorsement area. This will either be a subject-specific edTPA assessment or a Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) Praxis assessment.

Advancement and Renewal

Educators who have completed three years of teaching in Tennessee can advance to the Professional License. Advancement requires 30 professional development points and online verification of passing scores on the appropriate content and literacy assessments, as well as the completion of an educator preparation program. However, candidates who have a recommendation for advancement from the director of schools are not required to have the 30 professional development points for advancement. Educators who have not met these requirements may renew their Practitioner License once. Renewal requires verification of the completion of an educator preparation program and passing scores on the appropriate content and pedagogical assessments.