How to Become a Science Teacher in Tennessee

Oct 20, 2021

In Tennessee, science teachers tend to work as middle school science teachers or in high schools as specific-subject science teachers. Science is also part of the elementary teacher's duties. Here, we'll look at the steps needed to become a science teacher in Tennessee.

Requirements for Science Teachers in Tennessee

Average Salary for Teachers in Tennessee (2019)* $53,540 (Elementary School)
$53,880 (Middle School)
$55,060 (Secondary School)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Required Field Science education
Testing Requirements Core Academic Skills for Educators exams (math, reading, and writing)
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam
Praxis content knowledge exam(s)
Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (elementary and middle)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Education

If you'd like to become a science teacher in Tennessee, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. Consider a bachelor's degree in either the science you want to teach (chemistry, physics, etc.) with a teaching focus, or a degree in education that has a science focus. In either of these instances, you'll need to keep your GPA over 2.5 throughout your education. You'll also need to complete 15 weeks of student teaching. During this time, you'll work in two different grade levels. You'll need to be sure that the education portion of your degree is approved by the DOE as an educator preparation program, and then the head of that program will submit you for licensure.

Step 2: Complete Exam Requirements

There are at least three exams you'll need to take to become a science teacher in Tennessee, if not more. First, you'll sit for the Core Academic Skills for Educators assessment series. Available separately or as a combined test, each subtest will be graded individually anyway. You must earn the passing score on each test: 162 on writing, 156 on reading, and 150 on math.

After the core exams, you'll take the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam for the grade level you want to teach. Elementary candidates take the Grades K-6 PLT, middle school candidates take the Grades 5-9 PLT, and high school candidates take the Grades 7-12 PLT. Two hours are allotted for each exam to complete 70 multiple choice and four constructed response questions. To pass, you'll need to score 160 for the k-6 and 5-9 PLT or 157 for the 7-12 PLT.

Pass the Endorsement Exams

After these, you must pass your endorsement test(s). Elementary school teachers will need to take three exams to qualify for endorsement. Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and Elementary Education: Content Knowledge both feature science as a core test component. Scores of 153 and 163, respectively, are required. The Teaching Reading: Elementary Education is also required with a score of 162.

Middle grades (6-8) have only one exam each for science teachers: Middle School Science. Middle school teaching candidates must also take the Teaching Reading: Elementary Education exam. The middle school science exam must be passed with a score of 150, and the elementary reading exam must be passed with a score of 162.

High school science teachers qualify to teach grades 6-12 but must select the science(s) they wish to teach: physics, Earth science, biology, or chemistry. The four different content knowledge exams provide 2.5 hours for examinees, and all but biology have 125 multiple-choice questions (biology has 150 questions). To pass, you must have no less than 148 in biology, 152 in chemistry, 150 in Earth and space sciences, and 144 in physics.

Step 3: Get Fingerprinted

At, you can sign up for an account. On this account, you'll be able to set up an appointment for fingerprinting at a local location and pay the fingerprinting and background check fees. Once you have done this, you can print out your confirmation page to take to the fingerprinting appointment. You'll also need to bring along state identification. Once the fingerprints have been digitally taken, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will get to work on your criminal history.

Tennessee Science Teacher Certification Resources

Tennessee teachers spend plenty of time using study guides and preparing for the Praxis exams. These resource links can provide some additional guidance for your study sessions.

  • Prepare for the Praxis Exam
  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators - Combined Test (5751): Study Guide & Test Prep
  • Praxis Middle School Science (5440): Practice & Study Guide
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