How to Become a Speech Teacher in Tennessee

One specific teaching specialty in the state of Tennessee is speech, but there are two very different types of speech teachers. To find out more about the paths and requirements for teaching speech in Tennessee, check out our article.

In Tennessee, there are two types of speech teachers, those who teach communication at the middle/high school level and those who work with speech-impaired special education students. This article covers both types of teachers and their unique requirements and paths.

Requirements for Speech Teachers in Tennessee

Speech Language (Special Education) Teachers Speech Communication Teachers
Average Salary for Teachers in Tennessee (2017)* $44,390 (Preschool)
$50,050 (Elementary School)
$50,650 (Middle School)
$51,060 (Secondary School)
$50,060 (Middle School)
$51,390 (Secondary School)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Required Field Special Education/Speech Language Pathology Speech Communication Education
Testing Requirements Core Academic Skills for Educators;
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching;
Special Education: Core Knowledge Exams (vary with initial certification);
Teaching Reading: Elementary Education;
Praxis Speech-Language Pathology
Core Academic Skills for Educators;
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching;
Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (middle school);
Speech Communication: Content Knowledge

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Your Education

Speech Language Teachers

Speech language teachers work under a speech pathologist and require a bachelor's degree. To prepare yourself as a speech language teacher, consider earning a bachelor's degree in special education since this is considered a special education endorsement. A special education program prepares you for work with students with disabilities. Candidates learn about diversity, learning disorders, and mild intervention practices. They take part in teaching real special education students.

Speech language teachers require 100 hours of supervised clinical practice and must complete an educator preparation program (EPP) approved by the Tennessee Department of Education. Fulfilling the requirements for the speech language endorsement may require enrolling in a speech-language pathology non-degree post-bacc program or the more commonly available master's degree program.

Speech Communication Teachers

Prospective speech communication teachers also require a bachelor's degree. Programs in speech communication with a teaching focus are available. Approved programs satisfy the state requirements to work as a speech communication teacher, including the required EEP and teaching clinical. Specifically, candidates in Tennessee participate in supervised teaching at two grade levels for 15 weeks.

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Step 2: Complete Exam Requirements

First, you'll need to take the 3-exam Core Academic Skills for Educators assessment. Each test is set up differently, with each taking a look at a specific subject - reading, writing, or math. Below are the minimum score requirement for passing these basic knowledge exams.

Subject Minimum Score
Math 150
Writing 162
Reading 156

All Tennessee teachers must also take the Principles of Learning and Teaching in the grade level they wish to teach. Speech communication teachers teach 6-12, so they take the Principles of Learning & Teaching 5-9 or 7-12. The speech language endorsement spans all grades, but special education teachers seeking initial licensure must decide if they prefer to work with older kids or young children. All four exams include four case study questions and 70 multiple choice questions. You'll be given two hours to complete whichever exam you want to take. Below is the minimum passable score for each exam.

PLT Exam Minimum Score
Early Childhood 157
K-6 160
5-9 160
7-12 157

There are also some exams specific to each type of teacher.

Speech Language Teachers

Teachers on the path to initial licensure in special education take the Teaching Reading: Elementary Education exam in addition to the core exams for their area of licensure. For example, certification in comprehensive k-12 special education requires passing the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications exam. Certification as a special education k-8 interventionist requires passing the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications.

The speech language endorsement requires the Praxis Speech-Language Pathology content exam with a score of 162. This test includes 132 multiple-choice questions in three content categories: professional practice, screening/assessment, and planning/implementation of treatment. You will have 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, to complete the exam.

Speech Communication Teachers

Speech communication teachers have one content exam to pass. Speech Communication: Content Knowledge requires a score of 144 and endorses the candidate for grades 6-12. There are 120 questions divided among topics such as group communication, public speaking, and performance studies.

Step 3: Get Fingerprinted

To work with children in Tennessee schools, you need to have a criminal background check run. First, register for an appointment and pay the fees at With the confirmation in hand, you can then go for the digital fingerprinting. Within 5-8 business days, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation should have the results back from your background check.

Tennessee Speech Teacher Certification Resources

Whether you want to be licensed in just one grade or seek multiple endorsements, you'll need to complete exams with Praxis. Here, we've compiled some easy-to-use study guides to help you.

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