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Tennessee Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

Since the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), were introduced in Tennessee teachers are now seeking to work with their classes to go beyond typical art activities to meet a perceived higher expectation. The new push is to help educators in Tennessee take art and relate it to all other fields of study in an integrated approach to learning. Art makes the perfect partner to interdisciplinary study as a visual tool that lets students “see” all the other subjects in some manner. That in and of itself is just one reason why art is important in school according to the South East Center for Education in the Arts.

Another often-missed component of art is the benefit of creativity itself. In Tennessee schools, art is now being seen as a way to allow students to use their imaginations. When they are allowed to be creative, they are opening their minds and allowing communication to take place in a visual expression. As a new art teacher, you will have the opportunity to help students learn how to become more creative thinkers. To help get you started on your new career path, here are the steps to follow to become a teacher in Tennessee:

Earn a Degree and Teacher Preparation Program
Take Your Exams
Apply for Your State License
Continue Your Education

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Degree and Teacher Preparation Program

It’s a common pathway for many students who wish to become educators to go from high school into a four-year degree teacher preparation program. There are other ways as well, however. If you have been out of school for a while, have already had some college, or have been a professional practicing artist, Tennessee has other options on your pathway to becoming a teacher. The first step no matter which way you go will be a proper education.

The Office of Teacher Education and Accreditation is the official agency responsible for accrediting all colleges and universities in the state of Tennessee. Any school you choose must be approved by the OTEA in order for your program to qualify for licensing.

Bachelor Degree with Teacher Program

If you choose to enter a typical undergraduate teacher preparation program it will include both lower division general education courses as well as upper division general education courses in subjects covering math, English, science, history, political science, speech, and foreign language. Your will also need to take many courses in art — especially if you will teach at the junior high and high school levels. You will have a minimum of 124 semester hours.

Ready2Teach

Another option is the Tennessee Board of Regents Teacher Education Redesign Initiative or Reay2Teach. This is also an undergraduate degree program with a residency component teaching in K12 schools during your final year of the bachelor degree.

This program includes:

  • Methods courses.
  • Ninety or more hrs. Fieldwork including observation, assistance, etc. at the grade level you will teach.
  • Sixteen weeks of actual student teaching.

Alternative Master’s Program

If you already hold an undergraduate degree you may find school districts that will be able to offer you a job if you are enrolled to earn a master’s degree that has a teaching program. There are several possibilities for your mater’s degree. If you plan to teach secondary school, you will need to take at least 36 units in art as part of the major plus the pedagogy components. If you plan on teaching elementary education, you will have a broader general education in liberal studies or education. You will still need the teacher preparation program.

 


 

Step 2. Take Your Exams

After you have completed your schooling it will be time for your exams. You will need to take and pass several exams in order to qualify for your state license in Tennessee. Once you are ready to take the tests you may register here.

For the most part, when there is a math portion on the test, as a general rule, they will not allow you to take a calculator into the exam area (see Calculator Use). After you have completed your exams in the State of Tennessee your scores will be then be automatically forwarded to the Tennessee Department of Education. You will be tested in the following areas:

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Your State License

To be an art teacher in Tennessee, you will have to go through the state licensing process. There are several kinds of state licenses in Tennessee and two levels. Each path to licensure serves a specific purpose and situation. Once you know which pathway to licensure is appropriate for you, you will need to follow the application process. Here are your choices to the first stage of the licensing process:

Apprentice License – This license is issued during your educational preparation program. It is good for five years. It is the most common license most art teachers have once students have completed an undergraduate degree program and their teaching program

Interim B License – If you’ve been offered employment at a local public school in Tennessee, your principal may request an Interim B License. You must meet one of the following criteria in order to receive this license:

  • Pass the Core Academic Skills exams
  • Pass the Principles of Teaching and Learning exams
  • Pass the Art Content and Analysis Exam

JROTC Teaching License – If you are participating in the JROTC program you will be eligible for the JROTC Teaching License. You will have to supply your certificate, letter of employment, and all documentation of your education including transcripts.

Transitional License – This license is offered to you if you have been offered employment at a local Tennessee school. This is a temporary license valid for one year. The nature of this license is structured so that the applicant may teach while at the same time pursue the coursework needed to meet all the requirements of the teaching program. You must have an art degree or plan on taking at least 24 units in art if you apply for this license.

Stage 2- Professional License

After you have taught for three years and passed your local evaluation, you are ready to apply for your Professional License. In Tennessee the Professional License is good for ten years and as long as you have a Master’s degree, you will only need to pass your local evaluation; no continuing education will be required.

 


 

Step 4. Continue Education in Tennessee

Your Initial license is good for five years in Tennessee. After five years you will need to have documented 45 units of continued educational points in order to renew your license (if you only have a bachelor’s degree). If you have a master’s degree, you will not have to take any continuing education as long as you have completed your performance evaluation.

Considering the fact that you will not have to seek any further continuing education credits with a master’s degree, this may be worth considering as part of your initial education plan. A master’s degree may also offer other benefits as a beginning teacher as well. You may find that you will be perceived as a highly qualified teacher and you will enter the teaching field on the upper end of the pay scale for entry-level teachers.

 




 


Tennessee Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in Tennessee (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $34,098, slightly lower than the national average of $36,141.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data on art teacher salaries as a separate unit, but tracks salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers as larger categories. The department reports the following annual mean wages and employment numbers as of May 2013: 

Occupation Title Employment Mean Annual Salary
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 27,970 47,770
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 12,040 48,080
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 18,310 49,250

However, teacher salaries can vary significantly by location. A sample of the median salaries and employment figures as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some major cities appears below:

Occupation Title Employment Mean Annual Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 2,280 55,210
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 810 54,230
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 1,510 56,400
 

 

Clarksville, TN-KY
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 1,200 55,320
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 490 58,350
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 670 54,960
 

 

Cleveland, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 540 46,350
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 250 47,040
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 310 48,630
 

 

Jackson, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 510 44,400
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 290 *
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 410 45,870
 

 

Johnson City, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 1,000 44,280
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 220 47,110
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 560 45,320
 

 

Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 1,080 43,970
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 470 45,440
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 750 46,260
 

 

Knoxville, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 2,950 46,460
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 1,220 47,890
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 1,890 49,290
 

 

Memphis, TN-MS-AR
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 6,260 52,070
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 4,020 48,860
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 4,430 51,110
 

 

Morristown, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 500 42,260
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 360 43,980
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 150 45,640
 

 

Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 6,360 47,220
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 2,800 46,710
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 4,890 48,620

Salary schedules vary by school district and are developed after negotiations with the union. A list of public school salaries for each district is available here.

Information on postsecondary art, music, and drama teacher salaries in various areas of the state can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area Name
Employment
Annual Median Salary
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol TN-VA
40
53220
Knoxville TN
150
52280
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin TN
550
46830
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
160
58720
Eastern Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
70
42220

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